Dexter Filkins’ anti-Modi report for The New Yorker requires the reader to engage in a suspension of disbelief. Unless the reader is willing to enthusiastically endorse the ridiculous proposition that every single institution in India has been compromised, from the Police to the bureaucracy, from the smallest of courts to the highest court of the country, the report would be perceived as a monumental exercise in peddling rabid conspiracy theories akin to the Russian Collusion Delusion, which is exactly what it is.
It is a testament to the report’s lack of journalistic rigour that throughout its gigantic length of nearly ten thousand words, possibly more, it is nearly impossible to read through a couple of sentences without stumbling across a factual inaccuracy. Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker regurgitates crazy conspiracy theories, that have been spoonfed to him by Rana Ayyub, with an air of authority that only a toxic combination of arrogance, ignorance could and unbridled anti-Modi hate ever hope to provide.
In this report, we shall take a look at the major canards he has spread in The New Yorker. However, we have to say from the very outset that we might have missed a few because there’s simply too many of them in one place.
1. Pakistan was created because ‘Muslims were scared’
Dexter displayed obnoxious levels of insensitivity when he writes, “As the British Empire prepared to withdraw, in 1947, Muslims were so fearful of Hindu domination that they clamoured for a separate state, which became Pakistan.” It is not merely a spark of insanity, it is a deliberate attempt at genocide denial.
Was the call for Direct Action Day by Muslims of the time an indication of fear? Was the genocide they perpetrated against Hindus during partition an indication of fear? What does Pakistan represent now? Does it demonstrate any fear? Is the organized persecution and rapes of Hindus that occur to this day in Pakistan indication of the same fear that gripped their ancestors in 1947? Only a fool or a sociopath would say such a thing, it’s obvious to everyone with a two-digit IQ that it’s motivated by xenophobia and religious hatred. Pakistan is a terror state founded by genocidal maniacs in 1947 but here we have Filkins engaging in a blatant distortion of history. That sentence alone should serve to explain the kind of biases that are embedded in the report which sinks further downhill from there.
2. ‘RSS believes many Muslims were descended from Hindus’
Insinuations and loony lies abound in the report. At one point, he says, “Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity.” These are facts, Mr Filkins, not mere beliefs harboured by the RSS. These are not even debatable.
3. ‘Legend of Ram Janmabhoomi began after independence’
Dexter Filkins says, “After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.”
The ‘legend’ did not grow after independence. If Filkins had only bothered to read the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict delivered by the Supreme Court, he would have known that Ram Janmabhoomi has always been held sacred by the Hindus and Rama has been cherished by Hindus since eternity. But Filkins does not trust the highest court of India, he only trusts Rana Ayyub for reasons known best to himself.
4. ‘Psychology says Modi is a fascist’ ft. Ashish Nandy
Another individual who Filkins appears to trust greatly is Ashish Nandy, another discredited partisan hack. Describing Nandy as a ‘trained psychologist’ who wanted to study the psychology of Hindu Nationalists, he wrote, “Nandy interviewed Modi for several hours, and came away shaken. His subject, Nandy told me, exhibited all the traits of an authoritarian personality: puritanical rigidity, a constricted emotional life, fear of his own passions, and an enormous ego that protected a gnawing insecurity.”
“Modi was a fascist in every sense,” Nandy is quoted as saying in The New Yorker article, “I don’t mean this as a term of abuse. It’s a diagnostic category.” This is precisely why nobody should trust psychologists, and I say this as a person who holds a Masters Degree in the subject. Psychologists, too often, cloak their political agendas under the garb of ‘science’ and use their positions to achieve political objectives.
People would remember that psychologists in the United States have also issued public sermons against Donald Trump, clearly motivated by their personal political biases. If professionals in the subject had an ounce of integrity, they would have come out and slammed the psychologists for using the subject to peddle their political agendas. Donald Trump was mentally unfit for the presidency, ’eminent psychologists’ said, without ever having the opportunity to examine him.
5. The Godhra Carnage lies
Dexter Filkins in his The New Yorker article fails to inform his readers about what really happened in Godhra when the CM of the state was Narendra Modi. He says that the coach of the Sabarmati Express was ‘possibly’ set on fire by a Muslim when there’s incontrovertible evidence on record that it was definitely, not possible, set on fire by a Muslim mob. The guilty have even been convicted by the Judiciary of this country and yet, The New Yorker journalist does not believe this is a relevant piece of information his readers should know.
Dexter Filkins wrote, “While the train sat at the station, Hindu travellers and Muslims on the platform began to heckle one another. As the train pulled away, it stalled, and the taunting escalated. At some point, someone—possibly a Muslim vender with a stove—threw something on fire into one of the cars. The flame spread, and the passengers were trapped inside; when the door was finally pushed open, the rush of oxygen sparked a fireball. Some fifty-eight people suffocated or burned to death.”
6. The Gujarat Riots lies
Writing on the Gujarat riots, Filkins says, “According to eyewitnesses, rioters cut open the bellies of pregnant women and killed their babies”. While violence was committed during the riots which were indeed unfortunate, this particular bit is sheer fantasy. None of this happened.
He writes further down the line, “The Chief Minister of the Gujarati government was Narendra Modi, who had been appointed to the position five months before. As the riots accelerated, Modi became invisible; he summoned the Indian Army but held the soldiers in their barracks as the violence spun out of control.” Filkins, presumably, borrowed this from the series of allegations levelled by Naseeruddin Shah’s brother, Zameer Uddin Shah, which does not hold any water and has been debunked on several occasions previously.
Noted political hack Harsh Mander, who is a prominent member of a foreign-funded NGO and was part of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council on the Communal Violence Bill, also found mention in the anti-Modi New Yorker report. “No sectarian riot ever happens in India unless the government wants it to,” Mander is quoted as saying. “This was a state-sponsored massacre.” Harsh Mander is the kind of person who will never blame the Congress party for the hundreds and thousands of riots that have occurred under its watch or ‘secular parties’ such as Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party for the numerous riots that have occurred in Uttar Pradesh under their watch.
7. Persecution of Political Opponents Conspiracy Theory ft. Sanjiv Bhatt, Haren Pandya
Perennial hatemonger Sanjiv Bhatt, who is contemptible on his best days, was also used by Filkins to peddle his agenda. He wrote, “After Bhatt made his accusation, he was charged in the death of a suspect in police custody—a case that had sat dormant for more than two decades—and sentenced to life in prison.” What is this if not a conspiracy theory? Filkins wants his readers to believe that every institution in India is corrupt, including the Judiciary. He will clearly not trust anyone or any institution apart from Rana Ayyub, an utterly discredited ‘journalist’ who sympathizes with terrorists. Filkins appears to be the kind of person who genuinely believes Jeffery Epstein killed himself and at the same, dismisses the credibility of institutions when it suits himself.
During the course of the report, Filkins used every conspiracy theory that has been used to target Narendra Modi over the years. The death of Haren Pandya, the Sohrabuddin encounter, both of which have been utterly discredited by the highest court of the county feature prominently in the report. Again, he does not trust the institutions of the country but he does trust Rana Ayyub.
8. Great Reliance on Rana Ayyub’s fiction novel The Gujarat Files
Filkins in his The New Yorker article also places great trust in Rana Ayyub’s book ‘The Gujarat Files’ which was trashed by the Supreme Court itself and was a lie-laden attempt to tarnish the then CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. The Court observed while dismissing a review petition filed in the Haren Pandya murder case, “The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value”. It added, “The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence.”
The Court also observed while hearing the petitioners, “The way in which the things have moved in Gujarat post-Godhra incident, such allegations and counter-allegations are not uncommon and had been raised a number of times and have been found to be untenable and afterthought.”
Filkins quotes Tarun Tejpal, the editor of Tehelka at the time, who also believes that Rana Ayyub’s ‘stings’ did not pass the necessary journalistic standards despite being a rabid political hack himself. However, The New Yorker journalist continues to place immense trust in one single person. “The fundamental ethics of the sting is that a sting is no good if a person doesn’t indict oneself,” Tejpal told Filkins. “If you come to me and say, ‘I had a conversation with someone, and he told me that Tom, Dick, and Harry are fuckers, and he knows that Tom is taking money from So-and-So, and Harry really fucked So-and-So,’ it means nothing. That’s just cheap gossip.” So, according to Tarun Tejpal of all people, Rana Ayyub’s book amounted to cheap gossip. And yet, it does not cause Filkins to reevaluate his assumptions about Ayyub.
9. The Judge Loya Conspiracy Theory ft. The Caravan
When all crazy conspiracy theories gathered under one umbrella, how could Judge Loya’s death be far behind? He wrote about the deceased judge, “He told his family and friends that he was under “great pressure” to dismiss the case, and that the chief justice of the Bombay High Court had offered him sixteen million dollars to scuttle it. (The chief justice could not be reached for comment.) Loya died not long after, in mysterious circumstances. The coroner’s report said that he had suffered a heart attack, but, according to The Caravan, a leading Indian news magazine, details in the report appeared to have been falsified.”
Filkins conveniently forgot to mention that Judge Loya’s own family members came out at the peak of the controversy to state firmly that they do not believe that his death was a consequence of foul play and appealed to NGOs and politicians to not harass them. The journalist also did not mention that Loya’s sister whose statement formed the basis of the current spate of allegations accused the Caravan Magazine of misquoting her and claimed that she was deceived into doubting the circumstances of her brother’s death. These are important facts that Filkins conveniently ignored.
10. ‘Media Under Attack’ Trope ft. NDTV
The familiar trope of the ‘media under attack’ was also used abundantly in the report. Filkins relied greatly on the plight of NDTV to further the narrative that every institution in India has been compromised. He says, “In 2016, his administration began moving to crush the television news network NDTV.” He continued, “According to two people familiar with the situation, Modi’s administration has pulled nearly all government advertising from the network—one of its primary sources of revenue—and members of his Cabinet have pressured private companies to stop buying ads. NDTV recently laid off some four hundred employees, a quarter of its staff. The journalists who remain say that they don’t know how long they can persist. “These are dark times,” one told me.”
The ’eminent’ The New Yorker journalist again, very conveniently, fails to inform his readers in his anti-Modi propaganda article that NDTV and its founders are accused of corruption. Not too long ago, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) had upheld two orders of SEBI imposing a penalty of ₹2 crores on NDTV and ₹20 lakh on the company and its directors Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and Vikramaditya Chandra. It has become extremely commonplace for journalists to hide behind the cloak of ‘freedom of the press’ every time they are accused of corruption or some crime. Journalists want everyone to believe that they are somehow morally superior to every one of us and they are incapable of committing any crime. In case they are accused of misconduct, we should never fall prey to the assumption that they might have committed some wrongdoing because of their moral fibre, obviously, is made of pristine material.
Propaganda websites such as The Caravan and The Wire and characters of questionable repute such as Pratik Sinha received thumping endorsements from The New Yorker. It is not unexpected since Filkins’ journalistic aptitude greatly resembles that of the two propaganda websites mentioned. In the report, he also claims that Republic T.V. was founded with support from the BJP, another piece of fiction in the report.
11. Lies on The Balakot Airstrikes ft. Pratik Sinha
As is to be expected, the Balakot Strikes conducted by the Indian Army was questioned as well. Filkins wrote, “On February 26th, Modi ordered airstrikes against what he claimed was a training camp for militants in the town of Balakot. Sympathetic outlets described a momentous victory: they pumped out images of a devastated landscape, and, citing official sources, claimed that three hundred militants had been killed. But Western reporters visiting the site found no evidence of any deaths; there were only a handful of craters, a slightly damaged house, and some fallen trees.”
Conveniently enough, Filkins in The New Yorker propaganda article ignored the plethora of evidence that confirmed the success of the attack which was authorised by Prime Minister Modi. He also ignores the reports of various observers that the airstrikes were a success. Even the residents of the area confirmed it. Moreover, the conduct of Pakistan was a sufficient indication of the consequences of the strikes. Over time, the Indian government has released numerous evidence that confirmed it. However, as he demonstrates throughout the course of the report, Filkins ignores facts that do not suit his narrative.
Again, Dexter Filkins places a great deal of trust on another individual of questionable repute, Pratik Sinha of AltNews. Given the manner in which Dexter Filkins has lied throughout the article, it’s no surprise that Pratik Sinha is the kind of person he finds trustworthy. He received generous assistance from the AltNews founder in his initiative. We have published a detailed report on the matter that can be read here.
12. The Kashmir and the NRC lies
The New Yorker report began with the abrogation of Article 370 and naturally, it also included the NRC, the two agendas of the PM Modi led Indian government. The author, quite clearly, does not understand the difference between citizens and illegal immigrants. It is not surprising considering the fact that in the USA, Democrats can’t distinguish between the two either. If one reads the report, one would assume that Kashmir was paradise until the Indian government decided to abrogate Article 370. However, as every ordinary Indian knows, Jammu & Kashmir was basically an Islamic state within the Secular State of India. Any country should naturally obliterate such an anomaly. However, the Indian government tolerated it for years.
Kashmir was no paradise before the abrogation of Article 370. Terrorism was rampant, numerous Jihadist organizations were operating in the valley, even ISIS had begun baring its fangs, child marriage was legal, homosexuality was still criminal and an Islamic constitution operated in the state. India is under no obligation whatsoever to tolerate such a monstrosity within its territory. Surely, Filkins will not demand that White Supremacist states be allowed to exist within the United States, why does he then expect India to tolerate an Islamic State within its own territory?
The report by Dexter Filkins for The New Yorker is an exquisite work of propaganda against India and Prime Minister Modi. The sole purposive of it appears to be the documentation of all the myriad of conspiracy theories and ridiculous lies under one umbrella. The New Yorker article is a disingenuous attempt at undermining the current Indian government led by PM Modi. This is clearly an organized effort that was assisted by all the usual suspects. The great length of the report, which is nearly 10,000 words long, possibly more, only confirms the number of lies that have been spread against Narendra Modi and the Indian government since the NDA alliance came to power in 2014.
Editorial team of OpIndia.com