Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Karan Thapar the un-intellectual

Mr. Arun Jaitley was the recent guest on Mr. Karan Thapar’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’. This particular debate is a good example of how self styled ‘secular’ journalists fare when faced with a worthy opponent.

Mr. Thapar brought out the issue of economic blockade of Kashmir –

Figures released by the Jammu and Kashmir horticultural department, which is a
part of the official government, prove that between the first of August and the
17th of August this year, only 890 trucks bearing fruit came from Srinagar to
the Banihal pass where as last year during the same dates, the figure was
2,148—a fall of nearly sixty per cent.

Mr. Jaitley countered this claim as a mere propaganda by the separatists in the valley with no real basis to it –
Let’s be very clear. If there is a bandh and a curfew in Jammu for 50 days, if
you have a curfew in the Valley for 30 days plus, business is bound to go

To support his claim he quoted this –

We asked the Army and the district administration as to what is the position.
They gave us the daily figures. This was not the apple season.
They said, we
have nothing lying in the stocks and today we have 90 trucks waiting at the
sabzi mandis, and there is nothing to be loaded on it. It was a false

Mr. Thapar had similar questions of shortage of medicines in the valley which were countered effectively by Mr. Jaitley by referring to clarifications by the relevant officials and the army who denied charges of economic blockade and attributed the fall in traffic and business to the bandh and curfew in the state –

The Army’s position is that there is no blockade; the
government’s position is that there is no blockade and the Sanghash Samiti told
us that there never was a blockade and there won’t be a blockade.

But that did not satisfy Mr. Thapar, he kept repeating that there in fact was a bandh in the valley and that the BJP was exacerbating the situation. Apparently Mr. Thapar seems to hold the separatist’s claims in high regard and not believe the state officials or the army or even the union government that denied any economic blockade in the valley. Not surprising when you cite your sources as ‘The Indian Express’ or ‘The Times of India’ who themselves cite only the separatists and have total disregard for any official that denied such claims.

Now, agreed that he was playing the devil’s advocate, but Mr. Thapar was not being responsible in quoting such luminaries (sic) as Mobin Shah, the president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce (who incidentally is a part of the Hurriat), the information secretary of the Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba (really? The LeT Mr. Thapar?). And if indeed he was serious about debating the issue, he would not have restricted it to supporting the separatist’s claims, but would have talked about what really is at the core. But that may be uncomfortable for Mr. Thapar and the others, when they seek to legitimise the separatists. Hearts that bleed for the Jihadists and separatists do not care about it. Mr. Jaitley got it exactly right when he said –

As far as Jammu is concerned, it is crying due to
discrimination and this is a strong ground of discrimination and you want to
shut a popular debate out on this discrimination?

But when you suffer from myopia all you can see is the evil ‘communal forces’ (which comprises of only the BJP and the sangh parivar and no Muslim, Jihadi group) and you have to bring them down. Mr. Thapar gets it completely wrong when he said –

It is not a popular debate. It is that BJP deliberately
exploiting a political situation to gain electoral benefits.

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