Veteran journalist and Padma Shri awardee Vinod Dua passed away on Saturday, 4 December, after battling for his life in Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
Vinod Dua, who was born on 11 March 1954, leaves behind elder daughter Bakul Dua, a clinical psychologist, and younger daughter and actor-comic Mallika Dua.
His death comes just months after his wife, radiologist Padmavati Dua, succumbed to COVID-19 after a long battle in Gurugram's Medanta Hospital, during the second wave in India.
The senior journalist too had contracted COVID-19 at the same time as his wife. He recovered eventually, but his health had deteriorated rapidly since April, causing him to be in and out of hospitals. According to Mallika, he had also taken the demise of his wife – fondly known as 'Chinna' – hard, and was "unable to come to terms with losing the light of his life."
A Long, Bright Journalistic Career
A noted Hindi television presenter, Dua had started off his bright journalistic career with Doordarshan in 1974 and went on to anchor election analysis programmes with veteran journalist Prannoy Roy on the channel and elsewhere.
Dua also produced Parakh, a weekly current affairs magazine telecast on Doordarshan, as well as other popular news shows like Tasveer-e-Hind, Chunav Chunauti, Pratidin, Parakh, and Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri.
In 1985, he began anchoring Janvani, a landmark show which offered a platform to citizens to ask questions to ministers about their policies. Two years later, in 1987, he joined TV Today, a venture of the India Today Group, as its chief producer. Soon after, he began editing Newstrack, the first video magazine in the country.
He has also worked with NDTV as a part-time editor and news website The Wire, where as a consulting editor, he hosted a show titled Jan Gan Man ki Baat.
An alumnus of Delhi University's Hans Raj College, Dua, in 1996, was awarded with the esteemed Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award. Thereafter, in 2008, he was bestowed with the Padma Shri for Journalism in 2008 by the Government of India.
In June 2017, he won the RedInk Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism for 2017, which was handed over to him by then Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Dua's Fight Against Sedition Charges
In June 2020, Dua was accused of having made certain ‘objectionable statements’ on his YouTube programme, 'Vinod Dua show'. The First Information Report (FIR) was registered against him based on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ajay Shyam.
In his complaint, Shyam had alleged that Dua's statements were capable of inciting communal hatred and led to breach of peace and communal disharmony. The BJP leader alleged that Dua had blamed the government for its lack of COVID-19 preparedness and made personal allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Consequently, Dua was charged with grave offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including sedition (section 124A), public nuisance (section 268), printing defamatory matter (section 501), and intent to cause public mischief (section 505).
The veteran journalist was also charged with offences under the Disaster Management Act, including those of spreading misinformation and false claims.
Reacting to this, Dua had approached the Supreme Court to quash the FIR against him, arguing that fair criticism does not amount to sedition, according to The Hindu. His advocate also referred to the apex court's 1962 judgment, which stated that “in a democratic setup a citizen is entitled to criticise the government with a view to change it.”
He also stated in court that the FIR had completely distorted what was said in the show.
Almost a year after a team of Himachal Pradesh Police had appeared at his residence with regard to the complaint, the Supreme Court on 6 June finally quashed the sedition charges against Dua.
#MeToo Allegations and Support From Mallika
In October 2018, Dua found himself in the middle of a #MeToo controversy, as filmmaker Nishtha Jain accused him of stalking and sexually harassing her over 30 years ago.
Jain said Dua, who she had met in 1989 for a job interview, allegedly told her “a lewd sexual joke” and later stalked her, and even “slobbered” over her face once.
In a Facebook post, Jain talked about Vinod Dua lashing out at Akshay Kumar for his sexist remarks about his daughter Mallika.
In a Facebook post, Jain said: “When I read about his outrage against Akshay Kumar’s sexist words to his daughter Mallika Dua, I said to myself he’s obviously forgotten that he was no less sexist, no less misogynist, no less creepy a sexual harasser, potential rapist.”
Dua, who was at the time a consultant editor with The Wire, denied all charges, according to a statement put out by the news website. Later, he also issued a statement, calling the allegation a "figment of someone's imagination."
His daughter Mallika had also issued a statement, addressing the allegation and said that though it was not her "battle to fight," she would stand by her father.
(With inputs from The Hindu.)