Two editors of Zee News network were arrested by the police. Zee News held a press conference regarding this arrest. It would probably have been better if they hadn’t held a press conference. There were two main points of this press conference. First, when the case is in the court, why were the editors arrested and second, why did the police apply section 385 — they should have applied section 384. Navin Jindal falls into those 500 people of the country for whom the Government, the Opposition party and the whole Parliament are working. In all the economic reforms that are taking place, Navin Jindal is a prominent name in the queue of benefit seekers from these reforms. No comments should be made on Navin Jindal, because it is Navin Jindal and the people of his fraternity who have made the entire system stand up against 75 per cent people of the country. This is the reason that this system arrested both the editors of Zee news at night — in the interest of Navin Jindal.
Zee News stating that this entire incident is an assault on journalism is wrong. Zee News is saying that their editors were doing a sting operation so that they could expose Navin Jindal. They are saying that Navin Jindal was putting pressure on them so that they do not show any information on their channel regarding the name of one of his companies which got a coal block. The two mentioned editors went to Navin Jindal and they had a chat with him, but they do not have the record of this. Neither of the mentioned editors is a novice. They must surely be knowing the meaning of ‘sting operation’. The meaning of sting operation is to keep documentary proof, audio record or video record of any incident occurring on hidden terms or of a conversation. Today so many sophisticated instruments have been invented — a person holding a conversation does not even come to know and the conversation is recorded from two kilometres away. There is a video in pens, a video in rings and video records in tie pins. There are hundreds of kinds of devices for audio recordings. If both the mentioned editors had gone for a sting operation then they must have had an audio or a video recording device with them – a lack of which tells that this was not a sting operation.
Today, when so many recording devices are available, what sort of sting operation the two ‘great’ editors of Zee News were conducting cannot be understood. The biggest stain on journalists credibility was made by the Nira Radia tapes : many ‘great’ journalists were heard making claims of ‘installing’ Ministers in the Government. And now, the second biggest stain has been made by the Navin Jindal related incident. Our own prestige has been demolished by our own people.
On the other hand, Navin Jindal recorded the entire conversation with both the mentioned editors and he made a part of the conversation public before the media and also made a complaint to the police. It was not known at first that the editors of Zee News had met Navin Jindal and his people several times, but Zee News themselves during the press conference revealed that these people had already met Navin Jindal and his officials several times. Zee News is speaking of making the compact disc of this conversation of many hours public, but they are not giving information or records of any kind of conversation of both their editors.
The second argument of Zee News is very dangerous. Zee News says that their people met Jindal, they asked for money, but they did not receive money. So why was section 385 applied to them, which is applied after there has been ‘give and take’ of money. They should have been charged under section 384, which is applied for extorting money and after threatening extortion of money. This means that Zee News wants to say that all those who extort money by threatening, may he be a don sitting in Dubai or criminals of Delhi and Mumbai, they should not be arrested for extorting money over the phone, but instead they should be charged with such sections so that they can be ‘bailed’ out in the ‘thana’ (police station ) itself.
Journalism is a profession which people consider more sacred than the medical profession. When hope is broken at all places, then people go to a journalist and expect that they will find a cure for their problems, but it will not be made into a deal. It used to be heard sometimes that there are a few such journalists in districts, who in lieu of reports demanded money from the officials. The people berate such journalists, but if such opinions start being made for the journalists of the national level sitting at Delhi then it can be said to be an irony of journalism. Journalism is a profession to which a certain saying is perfectly suited : ‘Ek Machli Saare Talab Ko Ganda Karti Hai,’ (‘One bad fish can pollute the entire pond’) but now it seems that many such fish have come inside the pond of journalism.
The way in which the Zee News organisation has given support to its editors is praiseworthy. The reason for this might be that the mentioned editors went to conduct a conversation with Navin Jindal only after getting the full support of Zee News or on the signal of Zee News. That the editor considers and looks at the interests of the organisation, this can be understood, but obtaining money for the organisation, this cannot be understood. I believe that Zee News has discovered a new ‘technique’ in journalism. It should be hoped that other organisations will not use this ‘technique’ and to safeguard the dignity of journalism, will fulfil their responsibilities. Sting operations used to take place when there were no facilities of video recording and sophisticated tape recorders were not available there used to be interviews, stories used to be broken and there used to be resignations of Ministers and Chief Ministers based on those reports. During those days, the courts used to take the notes written by the reporters as proof. Today, when so many recording devices are available, what sort of sting operation the two ‘great’ editors of Zee News were conducting cannot be understood. The biggest stain on journalists credibility was made by the Nira Radia tapes : many ‘great’ journalists were heard making claims of ‘installing’ Ministers in the Government. And now, the second biggest stain has been made by the Navin Jindal related incident. Our own prestige has been demolished by our own people. How to grieve over this – that defies understanding.