UNCOVERING A CASE OF SUPARI JOURNALISM IN INDIA

“The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value. The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence. There is a likelihood of the same being politically motivated, cannot be ruled out. The way in which 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.”

Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr. Vs. Mohd. Parvez Abdul kayuum Etc.
Page. No. 215, Criminal Appeal Nos. 140-151, 2012
The Supreme Court of India

With every passing day Indian journalism is touching new depths of low and impartial journalism has become a rare moment of sight in India. The triggering factor behind this phenomenon comes from the fact that in the recent decade several young Indian journalists figured out a shortcut of achieving popularity in the news media business. The formula is simple, they have to target issues and individuals with unfounded allegations that have the potential of tricking the mind of Indian audiences. The nature of such allegations must be in the form of “deep fakes” which on the surface appears to be true but could not stand a minute in the scrutiny on facts and merits. Once that is done, regardless of good or bad publicity, that journalist will overnight becomes a “star” in the name of free speech, right to dissent and what not.  

Notorious Indian journalist, Rana Ayyub is no more in exceptions, especially after the publication of her book, Gujarat Files (as the name suggests it is based on 2002, Gujarat Riots), a textbook reference to understand the concept of “supari journalism” in India. The term “supari journalism” is basically an Indian variant of “vendetta  journalism” which implies broadcast of biassed news by an individual journalist or news group against any person or organisation for some personal gains. In Rana Ayyub’s case monetary gains could or could not be the end motive but certainly after this bogus hit-job the required attention in terms of publicity was surely achieved by her.

Initially, the calculated attempt of Rana Ayyub gathered huge success in achieving the heights of publicity, her book sold out in record numbers, her popularity was sky-rocketing. She was invited to several international forums and channels as guest speaker to deliver talks on her findings on Gujrarat riots. But the whole facade fell down to its knees when the content of Rana Ayyub’s book came under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court of India in the case of Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr. Vs. Mohd. Parvez Abdul kayuum Etc.

The case basically deals with the murder of Mr. Haren Padeya, Ex Home Minister of Gujarat State. The evidence collected during the investigation in the cases revealed that it was a well-designed criminal conspiracy and the motive behind this murder was to spread terror amongst the Hindus. Four accused in this case were absconding hence no charges could be framed against them. The trial court proceeded with the trial of 12 accused persons, in which 122 witnesses examined and plethora of documentary evidence was taken into consideration. Convictions were also secured. The matter eventually went to the highest court challenging those convictions.

In the Appeal before the Supreme Court, Rana Ayyub’s book was cited as documentary evidence by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the NGO which had filed the PIL challenging conviction of the accused. The Apex Court after pursuing the content of her book made the following observation :

“The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value. The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence. There is a likelihood of the same being politically motivated, cannot be ruled out. The way in which things have moved in Gujarat post Godhra incident, such allegations and counter-allegations are not uncommon and have been raised a number of times and have been found to be untenable and afterthought.”

The observations of the Supreme Court on her book are so staggering and harsh that a person of any moral standing would take a step back and re-think about his/her position on the issue. But since there is an absence of proper legal framework on the accountability of media, Rana Ayyub took full advantage of the moment and continued to spew venom and misinformation on the issue, till date. Infact the kind of stature and recognition Rana Ayyub enjoyed after writing this piece of intellectual-fraud, it would be very difficult for common citizens to even question her intentions, had the Supreme Court not commented upon her book.

In the present context, this entire case of intellectual fraud and verbal jugglery holds relevance on two counts, first it leaves us with a message that information coming from media circles should be accepted on the face value of a journalist. Secondly, this case brings back the issue of fixing accountability of the media for spreading misinformation in public, especially on matters that have the potential of endangering public peace and order. Rana Ayyub’s book and her several lectures were published when the matter was sub-judice in the court and therefore it surprises many amongst us that why her concoctions in the form of a book should not be regarded as a malicious attempt to influence the court decision.  

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