Attacking the messenger will not kill the story. What happened with Doordarshan Crew states that Naxals want only their version of the story to be published or be broadcasted. They want to be surrounded by “embedded journalism”.
I still remember the article published in Outlook magazine a few years back. It featured the Naxals, their daily routines, their challenges, struggles, and all aspects of their day to day life. The story comprehensively raised questions on the government’s commitment, how human rights and dignity of local tribals and residents were sidelined, how big corporates were awarded everything they wanted, how local people were compelled to make numerous sacrifices for their generations, how they’re not taken care of anyone, how government, police, and politicians exploited them and ultimately justified all acts of the Naxals. Such stories have never been rare; apart from the print media, some electronic media have been doing stories in their tone exclusive stories in the Naxal areas. The Naxals have always been familiar with these journalists but what happened on November 30 in Dantewada district with Doordarshan crew was shocking and unprecedented.
In fact, the Naxals want to be covered by embedded journalists. They give free access to those journalists who translate their version of the story and publish or broadcast. It’s just like PR journalism where a PR representative makes you a call, invites you in an event, offers you a good breakfast, lunch or dinner, gives you a good gift and send you a press release with an expectation to get it published as it is. It’s very easy to get reactions of the Naxals. You just need to activate your source and the source will ensure your safe journey to their area and will provide you with all logistic support also.
Similarly, it’s also very easy to take reactions of the politicians and bureaucrats from these areas. The Politicians would ensure you get good accommodation and their men will arrange everything for you. Moreover, bureaucrats will also be more than happy to explain their efforts, works, and success stories with you. So, ultimately, it’s very easy to approach the Naxals, Netas, and the Babus in the Naxal affected areas but when it comes to common people, it costs heavy risk.
If no journalists were killed before by the Naxals in a direct attack, it was because they were invited by the Naxals and their entire trip was planned under the security cover of these extremists. The Doordarshan Team was neither accompanied by the government officials nor by the Naxals’ men. They’re simply given protection by the police as a precautionary measure. The DD Team deserves special appreciation and recognition for their daring to interact with the people at ground level without any PR exercise with either Naxals or Netas. This kind of journalism must be encouraged and promoted because the ultimate objective of journalism is to discuss all aspects of a story and the Doordarshan Team was doing the same by reaching out to the common people. The Editors Guild of India is right when they say that these people don’t deserve any mercy at all!
By Yogesh Sheetal
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)