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Bombay HC and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace: Another embarrassing chapter in the inglorious history of Indian mainstream media

The judge also clarified that he was merely reading out the list of materials seized by police, and it does not mean that all of them are incriminating.

On Wednesday, a certain piece of news spread like wildfire. Numerous media outlets told Indians that a certain Bombay High Court judge had inquired Vernon Gonsalves, an ‘activist’ who had been arrested in connection with the ‘Urban Naxal’ case, why he had Leo Tolstoy’s literary classic, War and Peace, in his home.

Along expected lines, numerous people, including journalists, of a particular political dispensation rushed to pontificate about prevailing circumstances in the country. Now, it turns out, the judge hadn’t referred to the Classic at all. He was referring to an entirely different book.

Editor of Mumbai Mirror, Meenal Baghel, admitted on Twitter that the entire media fraternity goofed up big time on the matter. She informed people that the Judge, in fact, was referring to ‘War and Peace in Junglemahal: People, State and Maoists’ by one Biswajit Roy.

India Today confirmed Meena Baghel’s clarification. It quoted Yug Chaudhry, an advocate representing one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, as saying, “The book found in the punchnama of accused Vernon Gonsalves is War and Peace in Junglemahal: People, State and Maoists by Biswajit Roy. Not War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.”

The Judge, as per reports, was “shocked” to see the reportage on the matter. Justice Kotwal said, “You have made your point about the books not being banned. Besides, yesterday, I was reading the whole list from the chargesheet. It was written in such poor handwriting. I know War and Peace (by Leo Tolstoy). I was making a query on the entire list that police has mentioned (as evidence).”

Significantly, the judge also clarified that he was merely reading out the list of materials seized by police, and it does not mean that all of them are incriminating.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsThus, it appears another sensationalist bit of reporting by the mainstream media has bitten the dust. It only goes on to show that far too often, journalists are not skeptical enough of outrageous claims when it conforms with their political biases. Ignoring the media’s monumental biases for a moment, that it did not consider necessary to recheck the news to make sure that they had gotten it absolutely correct given the bizarre nature of the words in question only goes on to demonstrate their monumental incompetence.

What does it tell about the media that journalists cannot even do the one thing that’s their primary job? Some of the statements made by journalists and politicians alike on the fiasco are quite hilarious to read.

Sagarika Ghose, whose tweets are hilarious even under normal circumstances, said that “We are all in the grip of collective delusional insanity”. Well, we can partly agree with her remark. Some people are suffering from ‘collective delusional insanity’ and fortunately for the OpIndia team and our readers, it’s not us.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh used the occasion to welcome us all to New India. Well, it certainly is New India. The media corrects its mistakes in a day, earlier they didn’t even bother themselves with such ‘minor’ indiscrepancy.

Part-time Fact-Checker and full-time propagandist, Pratik Sinha, had to delete one of his tweets in embarrassment. Meanwhile, astrologers are surprised because they didn’t foresee an occasion when Sinha will be capable of feeling that emotion in his entire lifetime.

Sinha’s comrade, Zubair, co-founder of AltNews, thought it would be funny to tweet an image of Narendra Modi reading Tolstoy’s book. Well, the tweet is funny now, but for entirely different reasons.

Swara Bhasker, however, hasn’t yet found the time to delete her embarrassing tweet yet. But the tweet Swara Bhasker quoted in hers has been deleted.

It seems recent developments haven’t yet reached the ears of ‘Youth ki Awaaz’, which is basically Far-Left Youth ki Awaaz. Long after it became common knowledge that the Bombay High Court judge wasn’t referring to Leo Tolstoy’s classic, this is what the media portal tweeted:

But the award for the most embarrassing statement on the matter, no doubt, goes to The News Minute. It published a report on the matter titled “After Bombay HC’s ‘War and Peace’ remark, time to check your anti-national bookshelves’. The report has since then been updated after recent developments.

The first couple of paragraphs are those rare few things that get funnier every time you read them. If anyone were curious about how it feels to have eggs thrown at your face, it might be a good idea to ask the editors of The News Minute.

In the end, it was another embarrassing chapter in the inglorious history of the Indian mainstream media. Journalists were more concerned about portraying current circumstances in the country in poor light than reporting accurately on facts and events. It again demonstrates that the primary allegiance of the mainstream media is towards political biases and not the truth.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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