Shershaah, the cinematic retelling of the courage of Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra, has recently been released on popular OTT platform Amazon Prime Video.
The movie opened to mixed reactions, with many lavishing praises on the movie for showcasing on reel life the supreme sacrifice made by the Kargil War hero while others panning it for not doing justice to Captain Vikram Batra’s enduring legacy.
The movie once again brought under the spotlight the controversial role of journalist Barkha Dutt during the Kargil war as social media users highlighted her role in aiding the enemy forces with her questionable coverage of the war.
One of Twitter users posted a tweet stating that the movie Shershaah should have included the part of Barkha Dutt. “Watched #Shershaah yesterday it reminded me of what @BDUTT did at Kargil war. Filmmakers should have shown her part too. Capt Vikram Batra’s energy runs into our souls, few Humans are able to reach such a height, Bhavvpoorna Naman,” she tweeted.
Dutt, who thought the tweet to be an appreciation post for her work, responded by expressing her gratitude and stating that “Yeh Dil Maange More” was her interview and it is etched in her mind and heart forever.
But the Twitter user quickly disabused Barkha of her fanciful notion that she was being praised for her Kargil coverage. “Your welcome but I meant how you gave location access to Pakistani forces. You can block me to avoid any further embarrassment…” the user sharply responded.
Barkha Dutt’s questionable Kargil coverage had the Army spooked
Nevertheless, the conversation on Twitter has once again brought to fore the shenanigans of Barkha Dutt that had even the Army spooked at least once during the Kargil war.
In the book titled “Kargil: Turning the Tide”, author Lt Gen Mohinder Puri provided an account about Barkha Dutt’s irresponsible journalism. In his book, Puri narrated an incident when the Army was alarmed after Barkha was seen live telecasting a military operation that was supposed to be carried out in complete secrecy.
It is worth noting that the book does not prove that Barkha’s reporting caused casualties on the Indian side, however, her reporting was a “concern” for the Army, so much so that a senior army officer had to be called up and asked to take the matter seriously. Her reporting was threatening to hurt the secrecy of the operations, the book hints at that.
Barkha admits television channels’ role in endangering lives of civilians as well as security personnel during Mumbai siege
Similarly, almost a decade after the Kargil war, Barkha Dutt once again came into the crosshairs for her irresponsible journalism during the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks. On 26th November 2008, ten terrorists from Pakistan wrecked havoc in Mumbai. They held the country on ransom for almost three days as some of them holed up inside star hotels in Mumbai, holding hostages, many of them foreign nationals, as the ghastly scenes were telecast live in our living rooms.
In a 2012 interview with leftist media outlet Newslaundry, controversial journalist Barkha Dutt had admitted television channels’ role in endangering lives of civilians as well as security personnel by not restraining themselves during telecast.
Trehan asks Dutt about allegations that the latter called up someone whose relative was held hostage who inadvertently ended up disclosing location which was used by the terrorists after it was telecast on TV. Barkha denies the allegations by saying that she wasn’t the one who reported it. Another allegation was about her calling up the Oberoi hotel management which was under siege by the terrorists who confirmed that there were hostages in the hotel the terrorists weren’t aware of.
In her defence, Barkha says that like in Kargil war, during Mumbai attack, she became the ‘symbol’ for something every other journalist was doing. Barkha adds, “Chaitanya Kunte said I was responsible for Hemant Karkare’s death. Hemant Karkare died the first night, I was in Delhi. The Chambers’ conversation that you report, that happened with other set of journalists as well. There were other reporters. I know who they were, I am not going to name them. The Oberoi story, I do remember having said at some point… not the exact number but when they was confusion over the fact that the hotel has been cleared, I did say that no, we still have reasons to believe that there are people who are trapped as hostages. That I did say. I don’t believe I was the only one who said it. Journalists across the board said that.”
Barkha admits that perhaps in hindsight did journalists made mistakes during the Mumbai siege. However, she does add quickly that when they ‘realised’, from the second day they started deferring visuals of live coverage of the attacks by 15 minutes. She ups her defence by saying that media wasn’t aware that the handlers of the terrorists were monitoring news channels.