Mamata questions media’s silence on Rajdeep Sardesai concern

Shubhadeep Choudhury                                                                       

Tribune News Service                                                                         

New Delhi, January 29

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress head Mamata Banerjee has questioned the media’s silence on the action initiated by the India Today TV channel against its consulting editor-and-senior anchor Rajdeep Sardesai for tweeting and broadcasting that the farmer killed during the protest demonstration in Delhi on January 26 was shot by police.

It was later found that the farmer Navneet Singh died of head injury suffered when his tractor toppled sideways.

On Thursday, the India Today group took  Sardesai off-air for two weeks and deducted his salary for a month as part of disciplinary action over the incorrect tweet. Rajdesai had also announced on live television, that the man who had died during the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi on January 26, had been “shot.”

Sardesai, later, deleted his tweet and mentioned on air that the farmer had been killed in an accident after his tractor overturned.

In a tweet, Mamata said she was “shocked at what is happening to senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai”

“It is also surprising how most in the media are silent on this issue. In our democratic system we must raise our voice. The media is an important pillar of our democracy”, Banerjee further wrote in the tweet.

Sardesai had earlier wrongly tweeted that Pranab Mukherjee was dead when the former President was still in coma in the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi. Sardesai later apologised “for falling for fake news being circulated on Pranab Mukherjee passing away”.

“I am deeply distraught for falling for this fake news. It was unprofessional of me to not reconfirm it before tweeting. Apologies to all.. and prayers with the family”, Sardesai had then tweeted.

Sardesai has not yet reacted on the latest episode involving him.

Meanwhile, Editors Guild of India, of which Sardesai had remained President, defended him, albeit in a different context.

In a press statement on Friday, the Guild condemned the filing of FIRs against journalists including Sardesai and Mrinal Pande (National Herald) for sharing “unverified” news during the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi on January 26. 

“The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the intimidating manner in the way in which the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh Police have registered FIRs against senior editors and journalists  for reporting on the farmers’ protest rallies and the ensuing violence that took place in the national capital on 26th January”, the guild said in a statement.

“The journalists have been specifically targeted for reporting the accounts pertaining to the death of one of the protestors on their personal social media handles as well as those of the publications they lead and represent. It must be noted that on the day of the protest and high action, several reports were emerging from eyewitnesses on the ground as well as from the police, and therefore it was only natural for journalists to report all the details as they emerged. This is in line with established norms of journalistic practice”, the statement by the guild added.

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