Arnab Goswami and Republic TV have been ordered by the NBSA to accept their fault. Today, at 9pm, I will switch on Republic TV with the hope that they follow NBSA’s order and issue us a public apology. I am writing this to talk about what all we have, as a couple, gone through since that fateful day of Jignesh Mevani’s rally.
In the evening, while flipping through news channels, we chanced upon Arnab Goswami’s face. He was screaming, as usual, at some unsuspecting person or event. It took us a few moments to realise that he was actually talking about the same rally where my husband had gone during the day.
As a young person in India, my husband and I feel that we need to evaluate our political options well. What happened as an outcome of 2014 general elections, has repercussions on daily lives of each and every Indian. From mob-lynching to blatant lies and spectacularly failed promises, India has seen it all.
We keep a track of new faces in the political sphere. Jignesh Mevani is one such face. It was in January during his political rally that my husband chose to attend in an utterly honest spirit of a concerned citizen, who wishes to know. In fact, it was I who dropped him to Sansad Marg before proceeding for some other engagements.
As a curious citizen of the country, he stood there looking at the Republic TV journalist, who falsely accused the participating Bhim Sena members. My husband took a stand and said that her accusations were baseless. This angered her a great deal.
After all, as an honest law abiding citizen of the country, are we supposed to stand as mute spectators to wrong allegations being levelled against someone? Should we close our eyes against discrimination and social injustice, which is, sometimes, played against the typical ‘usual suspect’?
Men, it is unfortunately presumed, would have an instinct to hurt. But we all know that it is not always true. When my husband saw that a journalist was falsely accusing the boys of owing allegiance to Bhim Sena, he said, “Aap jhooth bol rahin hain!”
There could not have been a more well-mannered way of putting it and I must thank my husband’s Bihari background for that, for people in Bihar have a way of treating everyone with respect, never using familiar words like ‘Tu’ and rarely ‘tum’.
Our great fortune lies in the recordings which Republic TV’s cameraman was making and which have been produced in the NBSA hearings in which his words are very clear. The journalist was a smart woman who was doing her job on the field and we don’t hold her responsible for any of this.
She, even during the trial, underlined that my husband had not said anything lewd to her. Her accusation remained that he had spoken in between when she was trying to catch hold of alleged disturbing elements in the rally.
But, we are sensible people and when we saw Arnab Goswami calling my husband all those horrible words, we knew that something was wrong somewhere. We did not think we would be attacked irresponsibly. Since Goswami showed 6-7 people’s faces encircled in red dotted lines, we thought that they have randomly picked up people who stood there without verifying their claims.
We knew that it was not the fault of the female journalist in the video. We wrote a series of emails to Republic TV (having found their contact email from their website) over the next one week. Our email was a simple one: my husband identified himself as one of the people whose face had been wrongly marked and we had asked for a public apology for the same.
But, from from receiving an on-air apology, our innumerable mails went unanswered. We were forced to file a police complaint and the case in the NBSA, as suggested by many friends. The hearing was a long one and the judges were patient.
When they let me and my husband speak, I was relieved that we got a chance to tell our story. The Republic TV was represented by a lawyer, the journalist in question and Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor of the channel.
In a series of bad arguments, their lawyer went to the extent of commenting on my husband’s clothes. He said that typically, people who wear kurtas have affiliations with the Left ideology. He assumed that my husband had worn a kurta on the day of the rally.
While, we had, thankfully, decided that he should wear the same maroon shirt for the trial as he wore on the rally day. The only difference was that on the day of the rally, he was also wearing a nehru jacket on top of the shirt because it was January and slightly cold.
I was shocked at how cruelly they used stereotypes and remained stuck to them. After many arguments from both the sides, their young lawyer ended his argument by saying, “But My Lord, if you ask us to apologise to them, then it will set a trend and we will have to apologise to everyone!”
This was when I realised that we were facing the most illogical opponents. If you make a mistake a hundred times, you must apologise that many times. Is there any way around it? Should you be exempted from asking for forgiveness simply because you are a serial offender?
Well, tonight at 9 pm, we will wait for the apology. It must set a precedent for those who wish to highlight cases of irresponsible journalism on any news channel. In a world of fake news, we can bring a positive change by raising our voices against it. Jai Hind!
(Views expressed here are the author’s own)