Visual Connect

To,

Mr. Sitaraman Shankar,

Acting CEO, TPML,

Editor, Deccan Herald

CC: Mr B.S Arun, Deputy Editor

15 July 2021

We would like to draw your attention to the State page (Page 5) of E-Paper/Newspaper, released on 15 July 2021. The Deccan Herald’s (DH) Visual Connect ad on the page is not just factually incorrect, but also in appalling taste. Advertising and holding contests based on falsities is not only indicative of the creator’s prejudice, but also of bad journalism. How did the editorial staff not see the dangerous falsehoods inherent in this advertisement? If this is an oversight, it is indicative of unprofessionalism, and if done deliberately smacks of malicious bias.

We are dismayed at the concept of making a game of a person’s death. It is a shame that a newspaper of repute had to resort to making a prize-winning puzzle about a human rights activist, who was incarcerated and abused by a system that is being globally condemned for being draconian. To mock the dead or abuse the living, is not the sign of a civilized person or publication.

The clues used are even more shameful. It is a deliberate attempt to vilify Bhima Koregaon and a 200 year old monument, to vilify human rights activist Sudha Bhardwaj, the late Fr. Stan Swamy and the Communists. Point of fact: Neither Sudha Bhardwaj nor the late Fr. Stan have had any affiliation to any Communist party. Moreover, the usage of the Hammer and Sickle image by DH serves to connect every Left symbol with the bogey of ‘Maoism’ as defined by the State, and gives credence to the false allegations of association with banned ‘Maoist’ outfits against Sudha Bhardwaj and the late Fr. Stan Swamy.

At a time when there is widespread acknowledgment and critique of misuse of draconian laws by government against human rights workers and dissenters, and there are reports that much of the evidence in the Bhima Koregaon case appears to be planted, it is unconscionable for DH to use the state’s malicious allegations as ‘facts’ to run a contest for commercial gains. DH is supposed to be a house of reputed journalists and researchers, and no one bothered to correct these false linkages, which are apparent to any educated lay person?

The timing of the advertisement indicates mal-intent. What exactly was DH trying to achieve by running the advertisement/contest a day prior to the hearing of the Bhima Koregaon case? Does it want its readers to develop a bias against the victims of a flawed and draconian state policy? At a time when the case against Sudha Bhardwaj and others is being decided by the courts, this would add credence to the false narrative around her. This could subliminally influence the readers, jury and others connected with the case. Creating misleading perceptions through the media is dangerous for justice, and an extremely irresponsible act by your newspaper.

We demand that you withdraw this false and malicious content immediately, and issue an apology for the same. We would like the apology to be published in the same space in tomorrow’s 16th July’s newspaper in all editions. The published apology should take up the same amount of space and prominence as this visual content.

In case there is no apology and withdrawal, we will be left with no option but take the matter to court.

We are,

Kavita Srivastava PUCL
Rushda Siddiqui National Federation of Indian Women
Harsh Mander Human rights and peace worker
N Venugopal Veekshanam, Hyderabad
Ajeet Journalist
Komal Srivastava Works with homeless people and in the area of Education and People’s Science
Shweta Damle Platform for Social Justice
Vivek Sundara Social Activist
Arundhati Dhuru NAPM
Lara Jesani PUCL
Kavita Krishnan AIPWA
Koninika Ray National Federation of Indian Women
Dolphy Dsouza Police Reforms Watch
Uttam Visual artist
Aruna Sinha NFIW
Salim Hamza Saboowalla Social Activist
Nisha Biswas (convenor) Women against sexual violence and state repression (WSS)
Feminists in Resistance FIR
Anuradha Talwar Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity
Priyanshu Academic, Azim Premji University (in personal capacity)
Meena Saraswathi Seshu Social Scientist
Nandini Nayak Academic
Nachiket Udupa Concerned individual
Rakhi Sehgal New Delhi
Tinku Khanna Social Worker
Bittu K Independent
Dr Frazer Mascarenhss S. J Academic Administrator and Sociologist
Koel Chatterji Feminists In Resistance
Apar Gupta Advocate
Sharanya Rangmatipadar Adivasi Commune, Koraput, Odissa
Rajaraman Independent Researcher
Priyanka Shukla Advocate
Smita Gupta Economist and Activist
Teesta Setalvad Citizens for Justice and Eace
Devi IIM Calcutta
Sho/Sohini Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
Madhuri Madhya Pradesh
Moutuli Nag Sarkar APDR
Bolan Gangopadhyay Freelance journalist
Shalini Gera Advocate
Sankar Das Association for Protection of Democratic Rights
Ammu Abraham Forum Against Oppression of Women
Sandhya Gokhale Forum Against Oppression of Women
Geeta Seshu Co-Editor, Free Speech Collective
Sitaram Shelar Center for promoting Democracy
A.J. Jawad Lawyer
Aquila Khan Freelancer
Sujata Gothoskar Research / Activism
Sunil Kumar Mandiwal Dyal Singh College, Delhi University
Nagasaila Advocate
Hasina khan Bebaak Collective
Meena Gopal Mumbai
Vani Subramanian Independent Filmmaker
Vahida Nainar Independent
Hamza Shaikh Student
Shadab Astitwa
Pamela Philipose Senior Journalist
Bilal Khan GBGBA / NAPM
Simantini Dhuru Filmmaker and educationist
Amita joseph Advocate
Devika Advocate
Poushali Basak Feminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
S.S.Vasudevan Lawyer
Rosamma Thomas Freelance journalist
Dr Sanjay Mangala Gopal National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
sumita hazarika Lawyer
Amrita Johri Satark Nari Sangathan
Anjali Bhardwaj Satark Nari Sangathan
Brinelle D’souzaa Academic and activist
Ayesha Kidwai Professor, JNU
Kamayani Bali Mahabal Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
Afaque Azad Bharat bachao andolan
Kasim Sait Businessman
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre Working on women’s issues
Vikash NAPM
Khan Shamim Bebaak collective
Surendra Bhanot RTIFED & HRD
Padmaja Shaw Osmania University
Sabu George Researcher
Rachana Joshi Issar Lawyer
Amita joseph Advocate
Devika Advocate
Poushali Basak Feminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
Bilal khan GBGBA
S.S.Vasudevan Lawyer
Rosamma Thomas Freelance journalist
Dr Sanjay Mangala Gopal National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
sumita hazarika Lawyer
Bittu K R WSS
Brinelle D’souzaa Academic and activist
Ayesha Kidwai Professor, JNU
Kamayani Bali Mahabal Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
Afaque Azad Bharat bachao andolan
Kasim Sait Businessman
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre Working on women’s issues
Vikash NAPM
Khan Shamim Bebaak collective
Surendra Bhanot RTIFED & HRD
Padmaja Shaw Osmania University
Sabu George Researcher
Rachana Joshi Issar Lawyer
Amod Shah PhD Researcher


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