No response from HT?

IN Opinion | 04/12/2009
Letter to the Hoot: This inability of the newspaper to carry the response from the affected parties is tantamount to suppressing facts which are relevant to the issue raised by Neelesh Misra.
PUDR on Mishra’s accusations of fiction. Pix: Himanshu Kumar

Dear editor,

November 15th, 2009 The Hindustan Times carried an article by Neelesh Misra wherein he made some sweeping comments about the fact finding undertaken by a team headed by Himanshuji of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada. Since PUDR members were part of the team which interviewed the local people, and since questions were raised about the authenticity of the facts gathered as well as the manner in which these were gathered, our team members wrote to the newspaper on November 18th, 2009. Its been nearly two weeks since the letter was sent followed by a reminder sent on November 26th. This inability of the newspaper to carry the response from the affected parties is tantamount to suppressing facts which are relevant to the issue raised by Neelesh Misra. May i therefore request you to kindly consider carrying the article by Misra on November 15th along with our response in order that some public forum allows its readers to decide  for themselves between fiction and facts.

Moushumi Basu and Gautam Navlakha
(Secretaries PUDR)


1 December, 2009

 Neelesh Mishra's article:

 In Naxal battle, latest weapon is fiction


The PUDR letter to HT

Dear Sir,


Neelesh Misra in his article, In Naxal Land, latest weapon is fiction, (HT, 15/11/09), rubbishes claims made by our fact finding team which investigated atrocities in Chhattisgarh. We welcome any correction or information regarding our data. The team accepts what Gopal Menon showed in his film about Muchaki Deva and the young boy, Suresh. Obviously, if people make effort to go and find facts and are allowed to do so in the present circumstances, then more facts will emerge and revision of existing facts will happen. But it is worth recalling how difficult the task is for groups such as ours. The team was denied permission to travel to Nendra by SP of Dantewada. It was assurance given by the Union home secretary GK Pillai that enabled us to travel to Nendra and back. It was at Nendra that the team met villagers who gave information of atrocities. No newspaper or electronic news channels had given information (barring one small online news item quoting the SP Dantewada on what happened on 1st October) about the incidence of  deaths, torture, loot and arson. We asked for an independent inquiry into these incidents. Not only did  NM not read the report but his article is glaring in its omissions. 


While we were at wrong in alleging that Muchaki Deva was burnt in hot oil,  nowhere does NM mention that film maker Gopal Menon confirmed torture and his electrocution. It is also curious that NM relies on NHRC to damn us and yet nowhere acknowledges that almost all civil liberties and human rights groups in the country have rebutted NHRC claims and Tehelka carried eyewitness accounts which controvert NHRC claims. Besides, NHRC team comprised 16 police officials who investigated allegations of human rights abuses committed by security forces! Most importantly, NM does not ponder over the efficacy of using NHRC report which was placed last year for events that are unfolding now.


Besides, our report showed that on 17th September at Gachhapalli village, 7 people were killed and on 1st October at Gompad and at another village, 10 people were killed and  also gave account of many instances of arson, loot and torture. Where does NM stand vis-à-vis these 'facts'?


Finally, how did Mishra arrive at the 'truth' regarding the 'fiction' that is being churned out about Chhattisgarh by human right groups? Did he visit Onderpara and met Muchaki Deva (a fact that he uses against the fact-finding team)? Did he meet Himanshu Kumar and interviewed him? And why use an anonymous NGO to malign Himanshu? All this is based on hearsay, precisely what he accuses us of having done.   


Sharmila Purkayastha and Asish Gupta

(People's Union for Democratic Rights)



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