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 SrivastavaPUCL
Rushda SiddiquiNational Federation of Indian Women
Harsh ManderHuman rights and peace worker
N VenugopalVeekshanam, Hyderabad
AjeetJournalist
Komal SrivastavaWorks with homeless people and in the area of Education and People’s Science
Shweta DamlePlatform for Social Justice
Vivek SundaraSocial Activist
Arundhati DhuruNAPM
Lara JesaniPUCL
Kavita KrishnanAIPWA
Koninika RayNational Federation of Indian Women
Dolphy DsouzaPolice Reforms Watch
UttamVisual artist
Aruna SinhaNFIW
Salim Hamza SaboowallaSocial Activist
Nisha Biswas (convenor)Women against sexual violence and state repression (WSS)
Feminists in ResistanceFIR
Anuradha TalwarPaschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity
PriyanshuAcademic, Azim Premji University (in personal capacity)
Meena Saraswathi SeshuSocial Scientist
Nandini NayakAcademic
Nachiket UdupaConcerned individual
Rakhi SehgalNew Delhi
Tinku KhannaSocial Worker
Bittu KIndependent
Dr Frazer Mascarenhss S. JAcademic Administrator and Sociologist
Koel ChatterjiFeminists In Resistance
Apar GuptaAdvocate
SharanyaRangmatipadar Adivasi Commune, Koraput, Odissa
RajaramanIndependent Researcher
Priyanka ShuklaAdvocate
Smita GuptaEconomist and Activist
Teesta SetalvadCitizens for Justice and Eace
DeviIIM Calcutta
Sho/SohiniJan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
MadhuriMadhya Pradesh
Moutuli Nag SarkarAPDR
Bolan GangopadhyayFreelance journalist
Shalini GeraAdvocate
Sankar DasAssociation for Protection of Democratic Rights
Ammu AbrahamForum Against Oppression of Women
Sandhya GokhaleForum Against Oppression of Women
Geeta SeshuCo-Editor, Free Speech Collective
Sitaram ShelarCenter for promoting Democracy
A.J. JawadLawyer
Aquila KhanFreelancer
Sujata GothoskarResearch / Activism
Sunil Kumar MandiwalDyal Singh College, Delhi University
NagasailaAdvocate
Hasina khanBebaak Collective
Meena GopalMumbai
Vani SubramanianIndependent Filmmaker
Vahida NainarIndependent
Hamza ShaikhStudent
ShadabAstitwa
Pamela PhiliposeSenior Journalist
Bilal KhanGBGBA / NAPM
Simantini DhuruFilmmaker and educationist
Amita josephAdvocate
DevikaAdvocate
Poushali BasakFeminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
S.S.VasudevanLawyer
Rosamma ThomasFreelance journalist
Dr Sanjay Mangala GopalNational Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
sumita hazarikaLawyer
Amrita JohriSatark Nari Sangathan
Anjali BhardwajSatark Nari Sangathan
Brinelle D’souzaaAcademic and activist
Ayesha KidwaiProfessor, JNU
Kamayani Bali MahabalJan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
Afaque AzadBharat bachao andolan
Kasim SaitBusinessman
Saheli Women’s Resource CentreWorking on women’s issues
VikashNAPM
Khan ShamimBebaak collective
Surendra BhanotRTIFED & HRD
Padmaja ShawOsmania University
Sabu GeorgeResearcher
Rachana Joshi IssarLawyer
Amita josephAdvocate
DevikaAdvocate
Poushali BasakFeminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
Bilal khanGBGBA
S.S.VasudevanLawyer
Rosamma ThomasFreelance journalist
Dr Sanjay Mangala GopalNational Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
sumita hazarikaLawyer
Bittu K RWSS
Brinelle D’souzaaAcademic and activist
Ayesha KidwaiProfessor, JNU
Kamayani Bali MahabalJan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
Afaque AzadBharat bachao andolan
Kasim SaitBusinessman
Saheli Women’s Resource CentreWorking on women’s issues
VikashNAPM
Khan ShamimBebaak collective
Surendra BhanotRTIFED & HRD
Padmaja ShawOsmania University
Sabu GeorgeResearcher
Rachana Joshi IssarLawyer
Amod ShahPhD Researcher


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