Open Letter To Rajdeep Sardesai
By Ravikiran Shinde
31 October, 2006
CNN-IBN and IBN 7
Do not get surprised by this
open letter written by one of your million viewers. Yes, I know it is
established Journalists like you who normally write open letters to
celebrities. But then two gigantic and yet contrasting incidents that
took place in last few weeks made me go for this exercise. I chose you
since you are the latest and perhaps youngest of the Media tycoons.
But then, this letter equally applies to others in the same business.
1. 2 Oct 2006: The Golden
Jubilee of conversion to Buddhism at Nagpur.
2. 29 Sep 2006: The gruesome
rape and killing of four Dalits in Bhandara, Maharashtra.
Both events that took place
in Vidharbha, Maharashtra were very critical to the entire Dalit-Buddhist
movement in India. While the former was a cause of major celebrations
for Dalits and Buddhists, the latter was a terrible shock to them. However,
they both exposed the grossly biased "Global Age" News medium
like yours. Here is how.
1. Ignoring the DhammaChakra
Every year Dalits and Buddhists
gather at Nagpur to remember 14th Oct 1956. They number anywhere from
800,000 to 10,00,000. According to solar calendar, this is the day when
Dr Ambedkar led the biggest conversion sans bloodshed or allurement
in the history of the world. On that day alone, around 500,000 Dalits
had converted to Buddhism leaving behind the cobwebs of caste ridden
But this year, an estimated
2 Million, yes, a whopping 20, 00,000 people gathered from across the
world to mark the 50th year of Dhamma Chakra Pravartan din on 2nd October!
According to local reports, some 200,000 Buddhist Bhikkhus (Monks) wearing
saffron clothes, forming a 6 Km long chain took the procession turning
the entire orange city into saffron and blue. The Celebrations lasted
for more than a week.
Now, for an Indian media-
that is always looking for something sensational- that's a huge gathering,
isn't it? And how many white collar Journalists holding Handy Cams from
the leading electronic media turn up, including your own? None! Reason?
Ignorance? No.It is what I call an absolute boycott!
Like the Upper caste villagers
boycott Dalits in Villages, their caste Hindu counterparts in the media
boycott almost everything that is related to Dalits. Otherwise, which
news channel in the world would ignore such a huge gathering, repeatedly?
Annual gathering of around a million people on 6th December at Chaityabhoomi,
Mumbai - where Dr Ambedkar's last rights were performed - is also never
reported. Since the people who gather at these two places are Dalits,
Adivasis and Buddhists, they get blocked. But a Hindu festivals like
Ganesh festival or Kumbh Mela gets not only full coverage by the Media
but discussions and special features running for hours. As I write,
your website www.ibnlive.com opens with a Happy Diwali page.
2. Ghatkopar, Seoni, Jajjhar,
Kherlanji..the shame continues!
On Sep 29, in one of the
most gruesome and dreadful incidents of Dalit atrocities, Bhaiyyalal
Bhootmange, a Dalit-Buddhist farmer in Kherlanji (Bhandara, Maharashtra)
witnessed his wife Surekha (44), daughter Priyanka (18), sons, Roshan,
23, and Sudhir, 21 being killed by the Landlords in front of the villagers.
Worst, the mother and daughter were first paraded naked; gang raped,
and then sticks were pushed into their private parts. The sons were
stabbed repeatedly and their private parts mutilated. And what was their
fault? Surekha had dared to fight for getting back a portion of their
farm, which was grabbed by the landlords.
The local police and doctors completely covered up this incident but
the Ambedkarites made sure the news of this cruelty spread like wild
fire amid the Golden Jubilee celebrations. DNA (Daily News and Analysis)
was the only English daily that published this news and that too after
18 days! Seeing the hue and cry, not among media but the people, some
VIP politicians including Dy. CM R.R. Patil visited this place after
weeks and made some arrest drama and suspension of local police officers.
But knowing the history of the Maharashtra government's handling of
Ramabai Case (Killing of 10 Dalits by Police in Mumbai in 1997), I do
not believe the culprits will be brought to book.
Just see the scale of atrocities
against Dalits. India's National Crime Records Bureau working under
the jurisdiction of Ministry of Home affairs has reported that in the
year 2005 alone, 26,127 crimes were committed against SC/ST's including
1172 rape against Dalit women and 669 cases of Murder (Reference: http://ncrb.nic.in).
To summarise, every day, while three Dalit women are raped and two Dalits
are murdered, two Dalit homes get torched. If you add to this the thousands
of unreported cases, the picture is abysmally inconceivable!
And how does the News media,
including your own medium, react to the above facts and figures? While
a soft atrocity news like "Dalit Entry banned in Hindu Temples"
gets a little space once in a while, graver issues like daily rape and
massacre of Dalits constituting about 1/4th of India's population are
literally ignored. As if this section of population means nothing to
you. Why no news channel, ever holds any discussions on "How to
stop atrocities on Dalits"? If this is not Media's discrimination
based on caste, what else it is? You, the news medium, is as responsible
for these inhuman crimes as the Kheranjali oppressors by just being
selective and dishonest.
Such is the intensity of
this inhuman caste-killing in Bhandara that the world media took the
cognizance of it. Some western Human Rights based organizations like
ACJP (Ambedkar Center for Justice and Peace) who take up atrocity cases
in India are going to publish a detailed report on this case soon. And
your continued blockage of such incidents will not only expose your
bias but also raise question on your ethics and compatibility.
What a Shame, Rajdeep! Having
shown a balanced opinion on the OBC quota issue by highlighting the
pro-reservation side too, you had us believe that you were going to
be a moral and diversified media face. But now it is clearer that such
tactics were aimed at merely adding some extra spice for your politics
loving class. I had always believed in power of the Media but I am realizing
now that if it is run by an upper caste establishment then it is not
more than a 'Money-Machine'. And this is where the now famous proverbial
label "Manuwadi" fits best.
If you feel you have been
at fault, then better be late than never. Cover the Kherlanji case and
its legal proceedings. Awake the people on the gruesome caste realities
in India. Telecast a half and hour program dedicated specially to Dalit
atrocities every week. Send your stylist English speaking field reporters
to the remotest part where Dalits are suffering and order them to cover
unbiased news and help the due process of Justice. Will you?
Remember Media is one of
strongest pillars of democracy. Strengthen it.
Only then you would be doing
your true duty! And then Dalits would forgive you, since they believe
in Buddha's teaching of forgiveness.
There is still time, Rajdeep!
With Metta Bhavana (Loving
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