There is generally a perception or belief that a journalist is of course, impartial, because he or she has to play the role of a judge or doctor, and this is not just a role, it is also the duty of a journalist. It is also expected of a journalist that those things which are ‘buried’ or suppressed, the truth that is hidden, he/she should uncover or expose that and in doing so should put in his or her entire capacity, entire force. This is the ‘religion’ of journalism that in reporting or in searching for its scope, he/she should not allow personal enmity or jealousy to come in between. The basic ‘religion’ of a journalist is also that he/she should not flatter or indulge in sycophancy while writing and should not allow personal relations, individual friendship to dominate the report.
Three types of journalists are found. First, those who practice ‘committed’ journalism. They link themselves with some political party and become a mouthpiece and publicise its policies in abundant measure and by writing in newspapers and magazines try and establish those policies in which the political party believes. The second kind of category of journalists is that of PR journalists. They use journalism in power establishment, which includes creating relations with the party in power, the Opposition and the entire bureaucracy, and work to advance their interests, with which their own interests are advanced. The third kind of journalists are those who, believing in the poet-saint’s Kabir’s balanced approach as their ideal – ‘Na Kahu Se Dosti Na Kahu Se Bair’ — practice journalism on behalf or in support of people or the public. When we talk of ‘journalism on behalf or in support of people or the public’ it is not journalism of an ideology, but it means ‘raising’ the pen in favour of the tyrannised, tormented, suppressed and suffering people.
Using the Ved Pratap Vaidik happening as a pretext, after several days politicians began making insinuations that journalists should be sent to jail. This was not just a demand to send only Vaidik to jail, but it was a demand to send every journalist to jail who the power establishment does not like, whom the Opposition is also against and so is the ruling party and the entire bureaucracy as well. After all, what did Vaidik do? Vaidik went to Pakistan and since he had already been to Pakistan several times, he did not get one month’s visa independently as a member of some delegation, but it was given to him by the Pakistan High Commission. There, he left his Indian friends and stayed on to meet Pakistani friends. Let me tell readers that in India there are many such journalists who have friends in Pakistan. When they come here, they accept our hospitality as our guests and when one of us goes there, he/she stays there similarly, because the fragrance of both the countries, the smell of the soil of both the countries are totally alike.
I am not Ved Pratap Vaidik’s advocate, but if on Vaidik’s pretext, even journalists, like politicians, become part of a conspiracy to end the rights of journalists, then I want to oppose that conspiracy with all my strength.
According to the Ved Pratap Vaidik, when he mentioned India’s position, the action against terrorists and the Mumbai attacks at the Lahore Press Club, two journalists there asked ‘have you ever met Hafiz Saeed’? Vaidik said ‘no’, so those journalists asked, ‘would you like to meet him’? The journalist within Vaidik spoke up and he answered ‘yes, I would like to meet him’. Perhaps he did not believe that the meeting would take place, but within two days, those Pakistani journalists arranged Vaidik’s meeting. Let me also clarify that those who are good journalists have relations and connections everywhere, and those who are not good, keep floating on the outer edge and by fiddling around or monkeying around or manipulating words, confuse people.
Vaidik met Hafiz. What conversation Vaidik had with Hafiz Saeed, he was about to write it in the form of an interview, but he could not write the interview, because he remembered the essence of the talks, but could not remember the words. And, in the interview, if the correct words are not there, anybody can refute or disclaim it. Therefore, for the newspapers for which Vaidik wrote, he wanted to write a column in them. Vaidik came to India and says he held talks with several newspapers where he wrote columns. Those newspapers told Vaidik not to take up this subject. Then Vaidik took the support of the social media and by contacting the owner of a Hindi news channel, Rajat Sharma, talked about the meeting with Hafiz Saeed.
And from here started the Congress conspiracy against Vaidik. No journalist had so far raised any question on this, but as soon as the leaders of the Congress, chief amongst whom was Digvijay Singh, demanded action against Vaidik, saying that he had met the enemy of the country, Hafiz Saeed, he had gone there on a mission for Narendra Modi, therefore not only should immediate action be taken against him, but he should also be arrested, simultaneously the people of our community unleashed a ‘campaign’ on television against Ved Pratap Vaidik. We have a grievance against those journalists who waged this ‘campaign’, because we do not want to complain to Digvijay Singh or other politicians as they do not even know what is journalism. For them, journalism is only a method of sycophancy, of flattery. If they are not flattered, journalism for them is useless and they consider that journalism to be yellow journalism.
The reality is that generally and mostly politicians want to see writing praising them not only in the papers, but also want to listen to it on television. But what can one say to one’s fellow journalists? Journalists who toss up questions like why did Vaidik go, why did he meet him, by our understanding the meeting must have been fixed by the ISI, he (Hafiz Saeed) lives in such a cordon, etc., etc. actually know nothing, because they never watch Pakistan or world TV channels. Hafiz Saeed is regularly interviewed there, he lectures every Friday in mosques, defends himself in court and roams more or less freely and openly in Pakistan. For a man who gives a speech or lectures every Friday in a mosque, goes to court and does advocacy for himself, and can be seen roaming around in any function, it is foolishness to say that he stays in Pakistan in the midst of ten security cordons.
The people of India do not know that in Pakistan the condition of security is so bad because of terrorists that every individual there with a name and standing stays with a double-triple security shield or cover. When I had gone to Pakistan, I saw that around every house private security personnel with sophisticated weapons stand guard as if an attack is about to take place. In India, checking at the gates at hotels started much later, in Pakistan it had begun around 2002. If you want to enter a hotel, you cannot enter until the full checking is complete. I am talking here of five star hotels. Pakistan’s internal situation is so bad that any person, to escape from looting, from being murdered remains in the cordon of private security agencies. And in Pakistan, the private security agencies have almost the same rights which our police have got. When I talk of the same kind of rights for the police and for private security agencies, then it does not mean that catching a criminal or offender is within the ambit of private security personnel, but if anyone attacks, it is legally within their ambit to retaliate. Those weapons which the police there does not possess, those weapons are there with the private security employees. Our journalists in India are questioning that Ved Pratap Vaidik should reveal the source through whom he went to meet Saeed. Television journalists are screaming and demanding that Vaidik should be given punishment. But these great journalists, of whom most have links with India’s Intelligence Bureau, with the Ministry of External Affairs and also with Pakistan’s journalists, why do they not bring proof that Ved Pratap Vaidik met Hafiz Saeed through the ISI, and why do they not bring proof that what Ved Pratap Vaidik is saying is a lie ? After all, should we not go by a journalist’s face value?
But it seems that there is jealousy within us for two reasons, first that why were we not able to do it and secondly, there is jealousy in the minds of English journalists over how a Hindi wallah could pull it off. A ‘Hindi wallah’ journalist does not consider anyone else to be higher than himself. I am underlining this and saying that till today I have not seen that Hindi journalists have ever praised any other living journalist. In memory of dead journalists, we have seen people reading embroidered, complimentary words, but the Hindi wallah does not praise the reports of living journalists. He can praise the work of English journalists, but I have not heard from the mouth of any Hindi journalist praise for Hindi journalists or linguistic journalists. The demand for action against Ved Pratap Vaidik was made the most by those TV journalists who could not become Senior Executives in a corporate house and strolling along, came into journalism. There is no report in their account, no wonderful feat is entered in their account. They are known by people as journalists only because they appear on television. If their face is removed from television, nobody will ask about them.
Journalism is a different thing, a different, separate ideal or model. This country has seen journalists fighting for the interest of the general public, seen them fighting for their lives and there is respect for them too. But those journalists who go to America and give speeches from platforms of institutions linked with the ISI, against them no Hindi journalist opens his mouth, because they are English journalists. I am not supporting Vaidik. I am supporting that principle which says that a journalist can go and can bring a report from anywhere, on condition that the report is not refuted or denied. He/she can interview anywhere, regardless of whether the person is in hiding or in the midst of people. I am not Ved Pratap Vaidik’s advocate, but if on Vaidik’s pretext, even journalists, like politicians, become part of a conspiracy to end the rights of journalists, then I want to oppose that conspiracy with all my strength. I have no hesitation in modestly saying that those journalists who are currently campaigning against the rights of journalists, they are in the pockets of politicians, who want to end the real cutting edge of journalism.
Until what Ved Pratap Vaidik is saying is proved wrong, I shall continue to consider it to be correct. I have always opposed the kind of journalism that ‘….by my understanding, this is my belief …’ — who are you that this is my belief? In journalism it is not my belief that counts, in journalism it is the facts that count, the truth that counts. Therefore, we would like that these fake faces of journalism are identified and these faces tell what their credibility is, except for coming on the television screen and asking questions of great foolishness. They should tell what report they have done. The age of many out of them is not even half that of Ved Pratap Vaidik’s journalism. Ved Pratap Vaidik’s shortcomings are there in their own place, his hyperbole is a shortcoming, presenting himself as the highest is a shortcoming, but inspite of these shortcomings Ved Pratap Vaidik is not a villain in Indian journalism. In India’s journalism, he is as honest as journalists should be. So, ‘I understand what Ved Pratap Vaidik’s talk is’ or ‘in my view….’ – move away from that kind of language and factually prove him wrong, otherwise history at least will write about the offense of tarnishing and disgracing the profession of journalism.
New journalists, who are a gift of the market economy, who have faith in a pro market economy, they are writing a new definition of journalism. According to this new definition of journalism, journalists should be police informers, should be informers of IB and should be informers of the Government. Wherever they go, they should report about it to the police, the IB, and the Government with whom they have a link. If this is new journalism, we are not in agreement with such journalism. There is a pro market economy in the country, Governments will be in its favour and the people will be against it. The public is not in favour of a pro market economy, but it has not understood whether the people who are making promises will be able to fulfill them or not, because they are the same policies which have been continuing from earlier on. Similarly, pro market journalists or market oriented journalists want to make all journalism a lackey of politics and the Government. This new journalism is dangerous, it will bring fascism in the country and will take the country to the level of civil war. These journalists do not consider the difficulties and suffering of the people to be their subject. For them the superficial things of politics are the biggest happenings in the country, the spectacle of which we are constantly and continuously watching on television.