Caravan Editor Replies to Allegations of ‘Anti-India Speech’ in UK
Jose has articulated his response in an article titled, ‘Government and RSS branding dissenters as public enemies’.
A recent speech by Dr Vinod Jose, the Executive Editor of The Caravan magazine, at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, irked Prasar Bharati chief A Surya Prakash, who spoke from the audience at the same event and accused Jose of spreading misinformation and showing India in a bad light.
Subsequently, several Indian media houses published articles on Prakash’s retort to Jose, and each of their headlines had a variation of the phrase “Prasar Bharati chief slams Caravan editor” with some publications even terming Jose’s talk an “anti-India presentation.”
Now, in a strongly-worded letter to the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as to the organisers of the event in London, Jose has articulated his response, published by The Caravan in an article headlined, ‘Government and RSS branding dissenters as public enemies.’
The Caravan has described Jose’s presentation as follows, “On a panel discussing religion and media, Jose discussed how a long history of religious intolerance has fuelled violence against India’s minorities – as most recently evidenced by the rising number of lynchings of Muslims and Dalits. He noted that hatred for these minorities owed in good part to the teachings of Hindutva ideologues, including the founders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”
In the letter addressed to UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and the conference organisers, Jose wrote, “Irony of ironies, my act of speaking truly and freely at a conference on media freedom was met, at the conference itself, by an attempt to discredit and intimidate me by representatives of the Indian government.”
“I wish to highlight that this is but a minor instance of an alarming trend: India’s government, as well as the parent organisation of the country’s Hindu-nationalist ruling party, is straining to brand prominent dissenters as public enemies, as a means of legitimising their harassment and even possible violence against them.”Vinod Jose, Executive Editor of The Caravan
Jose adds that after seeing Prakash’s response to his speech, “The conference organisers insisted on providing me with security for the duration of my stay in London. A senior UN official told me that such conduct at an international forum by the chairman of India’s public broadcast corporation was a practical demonstration of the growing intolerance and hatred I had highlighted.”
About the media reports that had been published in which Prakash was stated to have “slammed” him, Jose replied, “The report falsely claimed that I had said that the RSS was behind the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984; what I had actually said in London, with a firm grounding in fact, was that members of the Congress party and also members of the RSS played their roles in the killings of Sikhs. The intention was to tar me, falsely, as an agent of the Congress, which is now a party of the opposition. The writers of the report did not bother to contact me for comment, or even to check their version of events against publicly available recordings of the event in London.”
“The state-owned news broadcaster, which Mr Prakash himself heads, aired a two-episode programme in the same vein attacking what I highlighted in London. I was not overly concerned with these efforts, though I was disappointed by the lack of journalistic rigour and fairness shown by the organisations involved, and made this clear in letters to them.”Vinod Jose
A Surya Prakash has so far not responded to the publication of Jose’s letter. This article will be updated with his response if he does.
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