A Coincidence? BJP Files Defamation Notice Against Guha, Hindustan Times Says Goodbye to Editor
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: A Karnataka BJP Youth leader issued a legal notice to historian and writer Ramchandra Guha citing his interview in Scroll.in and his article in the Hindustan Times as defamtory to the BJP and the RSS. And within the day the Hindustan Times said goodbye to its editor Bobby Ghosh, in a totally unexpected move.
Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson, HT Media informed the staff of the same with a letter that does not say whether Ghosh, in place for just 14 months, had left of his own accord, or had been sacked, and why. And speaks of her “deep” disappointment that he would be returning to New York asking the staff to join her in wishing him the best in his next “adventure.”
I am deeply disappointed to share the news that Bobby Ghosh will be returning to New York, for personal reasons.
Bobby has only been with HT Digital Streams Ltd. for 14 months, but in that time he has engineered a dramatic transformation of our various news products. This is reflected not only in our traffic numbers, but in the sheer ambition of our journalism. Under his leadership, HT Newsroom has pursued bold ideas and has addressed some of the most pressing issues of our time. We have come to be recognized as the place for journalistic innovation and enterprise.
We will miss him, but I am confident that the newsroom leadership team he has nurtured will more than live up to the challenge.
At my request, Bobby has agreed to stay on for a while, to help in the transition and complete some projects he has already launched.
There will be time for proper farewells. For now, please join me in wishing Bobby the best in his next adventures.
The legal notice to Guha is a first of its kind against a prominent citizen for both an interview and an article. He has been very vocal and forthright in questioning the RSS and the BJP on various issues, the latest being the assassination of Gauri Lankesh. The notice reads:
Under instructions from our Client – Mr. Karunakar Khasale, State Secretary of BJP Yuva Morcha, Karnataka, R/a No.48, Jagannatha Bhavana, Temple Street, 11th Cross, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru – 560 003, Karnataka, this Legal Notice is being issued to you.
Our Client informs us that in an interview given by you to Scroll.in (a Media Company), on 6th September, 2017, you have uttered the following: “It is very likely that her murderers came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi came.” The said interview was given in the context of the unfortunate killing of Ms. Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on 05th September 2017. You have alleged that the perpetrators of the said crimes belong to our Client’s Organization.
Our Client further states that the said interview with Ms. Smitha Nair of the said Media Company – Scroll.in has been published on their website and same is available as on today in the following link: https://video.scroll.in/849779/ramachandra-guha- ruling-partys-bigotry-is-reinforced-by-tv-channels- spreading-hate-and-suspicion
Our Client states that you have also made similar statements / statements indicating the same in your article published in the Hindustan Times website: http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/gauri-lankesh-killing- undermining-democracy-one-writer-at-a-time/story- JX2WtGdprHotFRxfkgD98L.html.
Our Client states that the electronic link to your is found on https://twitter.com/Ram_Guha?ref_src=twsrc^google|twca mp^serp|twgr^author
First and foremost, in the back drop of the above our Client wishes to express that he is deeply shocked seeing and hearing such baseless allegations made against his organisation by you. Not just the said utterance, the whole of the interview given by you i.e your statements in the said interview are calculated to tarnish the image and reputation of our Client and the organisation he represents is undermined. The said utterances in the aforesaid interview have been made by you intentionally to bring disrepute to our Client and his organisation with an ulterior motive. The direct allegations, insinuations and innuendos made by you deliberately and with full knowledge impute criminal conduct on our Client and its members.
Our Client would like to hereby convey and to place on record that my client’s organisation, to which you impute criminal motives, is a group of highly reputed and well regarded nationalist organisations having members throughout the world, upholding the constitutional values of the country. While the RSS is the world’s largest voluntary socio-cultural organisation involved in humanitarian and service activities around the world, the BJP – the party in which our client is an office bearer – is the world’s largest democratic political party, currently in power in the Union Government. Our Client states that your deliberate, false and calculated statement against our client’s organisation has caused great anguish in the minds thousands of its members and sympathisers.
It is pertinent here to mention that investigations are being conducted and are still in progress into the deaths of late Mr. Dabholkar, Mr. Pansare, Mr. Kalburgi and Ms. Gauri Lankesh, by the jurisdictional investigating authorities. As on today, even as on the date of the aforesaid interview given by you, the investigations into the said incidents are still in progress and has not yet concluded. No trial has taken place against any person, much less any conviction. Under such circumstances, without any basis or proof, you have given false and mischievous statements clearly calculated to defame our Client’s organisation and its members.
Our Client states that you have also made similar statements / statements indicating the same in your article published in the Hindustan Times website: http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/gauri-lankesh-killing- undermining-democracy-one-writer-at-a-time/story- JX2WtGdprHotFRxfkgD98L.html , intentionally to bring disrepute to our Client’s organisation and its members. You have also tweeted / retweeted the link of the said article in https://twitter.com/Ram_Guha?ref_src=twsrc^goo gle|twcamp^serp|twgr^author
Our Client states that after seeing and hearing your statements made in the said interview and after reading the said article written by you in Hindustan Times, many people met the members of our Client’s organisation and enquired with them with regard to your statements. Our client’s organisation as well as its members also received numerous phone calls from its sympathisers as a fall out of your false statement. Of the numerous enquiries our client received, many were enquiries by men of reputable social standing like that of industrialist Mr. Shivalingayya of Peenya Industrial Area, Mr. DM Kiran, renowned entrepreneur from Banashankari, Prof. Hemanth Kumar, Professor at NMIT and Mr. Rajagopal, businessman from Dasarahalli, to name a few. Our clients states that on seeing, hearing and reading your statements contained in the said interview and article, which have been widely published and circulated by the aforesaid media houses, it would be clear to any reasonable person that they are clearly accusative and defamatory in nature. Our Clients states that your baseless utterances are also calculated to influence and mislead the on- going investigations of the said incidents. This amounts to illegal interference in the course of justice and is also a grave offence.
Our Client instructs us to call upon you to categorically and clearly apologize publicly and also to communicate your apology directly to our Client and his organisation for making such defamatory, baseless and false allegations. You are called upon to categorically issue your unconditional apology within three days from the date of receipt of this notice, which we are sending both by registered post and electronic mail. Further, you are also called upon to refrain from making any such similar or identical statements / allegations against our Client’s organisation and its members and also to refrain from making any kind of allegations or/ and defamatory statements against our Client’s organisation and its members. It is reiterated by our client that if you fail to comply with the aforesaid instructions, our Client has instructed us to inform you that he would be constrained to initiate civil and criminal prosecution against you, at your sole costs and consequences.