Archive for April 2006
April 10 is the last day of the exhibition by Nirmal Kulkarni and
Aasari, titled Hinterlands of Goa, at the Myriad Art Gallery, opposite
Hotel Venite in Panjim (near the GPO area). 10 am to 7 pm. Nirmal is
This issue has figured prominently in the national media. Is there
sufficient follow-up on the Goa angles? Reporting on the Navy has
tended to be a huge black home for the most… with by-invite-only
coverage obviously not doing justice to the issues on hand.
Niraj Naik’s DigitalGoa service said 6-Apr-2006 16:49:46: “CBI raided
plant in Verna over Navy war room leak case.”
Later, a report in the ET named the plant concerned. Below are some
reports that show up the Goa link, and name officers whom some of us
might have encountered in news conferences:
Navy war room leak case links
In particular, see
Navy war-room leak: CBI raids 17 places. It says:
NEW DELHI: Almost a year after the war-room leak rocked the Navy like
never before, and led to the sacking of four officers, the wheels of
justice finally seem to be turning now after a long delay….
The CBI case, registered under the Official Secrets Act and section
120-B of the Indian Penal Code, names nine persons for “conspiring to
trade off classified documents and information relating to the defence
ministry, the disclosure of which is likely to affect the country’s
sovereignty and integrity”.
CBI, in particular, is eager to arrest Ravi Shankaran, the alleged
“brain” behind the episode, who also happens to be the nephew of Navy
chief Admiral Arun Prakash.
Shankaran and Parashar, former naval officers who took premature
retirement to set up their own business, were the ones who allegedly
enticed Rana, Jha and the then director of naval operations Captain
Kashyap Kumar to “leak” classified information from the Navy war-room
in South Block for monetary and other gains.
The leaked information, primarily of commercial nature, was apparently
meant for international armament companies eager to bag lucrative
Indian defence contracts…..
The government had handed over the war-room leak case to CBI belatedly
in February only after allegations surfaced that middlemen were
involved in the Rs 18,798-crore Scorpene submarine project and that
the “recipients” in the war-room leak episode were also linked to
French firms involved in the submarine project.
With UPA coming under fire from NDA, defence minister Pranab Mukherjee
denied any wrongdoing in the Scorpene deal, saying it was completely
above board. He has stressed that the “leaked information” from the
war-room did not pertain to the submarine project.
* * * * *
CBI raids premises of Naval chief’s kinAdd to Clippings
Sources said that the CBI had filed the FIR over 15 days ago but had
been waiting for Parashar to return before starting arrests and
conducting raids. Raids were conducted in 17 locations in New Delhi,
Mumbai, Pune, Muzzafarpur, Chandigarh and Goa.
Another key accused in the case Lt Commander (Retd) Ravishankaran, the
nephew of Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash, is still in London and the
CBI is waiting for his return from London before proceeding against
him, He is also named in the CBI FIR.
The factory premises of Shanks Oceaneering belonging to Ravishankaran
in Mumbai and Goa were also raided. The CBI also raided the house of
Manish Vohra, the chartered accountant for Parashar and Ravi
The entire leak was discovered due to an illicit relationship between
Jaiswal and Indian Air Force ex-wing commander Sambhajee L Surve, who
is also named in the FIR. Surve’s wife had complained to the Air
During that investigation, the Air Force counter surveillance team
stumbled on to a pen drive in Surve’s possession that led them to the
entire war room deal. The Navy and the Air Force both conducted
inquiries and three naval officers were thrown out of the Navy. The
CBI was given the findings of both the inquiries….
The war room leak case has led to speculation that the
Scorpene deal is also linked somehow to the case. CBI spokesperson
Mohanty said that all aspects of the case are being investigated….
Scribe-bashing, when will it end?
[This article was published in the June-November 1991 issue
of NewsSpeak, the quarterly publication of the Goa Union of
[BY VIDYA HEBLE] An assault on a journalist is, at the most,
a nine-day wonder. If at all. Even the hue and cry raised
over the brutal beating-up of O Herald’s Anthony Fernandes on
March 22, 1991 — which actually brought to the fore the
whole issue of assaults on (and freedom of) the Press — has
died down to a mere memory.
This statement is justified because the long history of
attacks on journalists shows up precisely this. As a GUJ
pamphlet puts it, the list of those who have been attacked or
threatened down the years — even if one takes only recent
years — makes “frighteningly long reading”.
Going by available records alone, it started as far back as
around 1979. Then Gomantak correspondent Kalidas Kanekar was
assaulted by the Police during the Collem teachers’
It has now come to the most recent assault on Anthony
Fernandes by goondas. In between, there have been many cases,
involving unknown elements, mobs and even the Police as those
responsible. Which, in parenthesis, leads one to wonder
whether the only difference between goondas and policemen is
that the latter are in uniform.
Among the other victims of assaults who suffered as a direct
result of discharging their journalistic duties have been
Gomantak correspondents Vishal Kalangutkar and Ramnath
Dessai, O Herald photographer Menino Afonso (in two different
cases), Rashtramat executive editor Sitaram Tengse, Gomantak
Times correspondents Freddy Dias and Edmund Antao,
Maharashtra Times correspondent Suresh Kankonkar, Tarun
Bharat correspondent Sunil Fatarpekar, O Heraldo photographer
Joe D’Souza, O Heraldo editor Rajan Narayan and the Navhind
Times photographer Joy Vaz.
Besides, PTI, Gomantak and Gomantak Times have also received
threatening anonymous telephone calls in the course of their
publishing reports on various issues.
In all these cases, there has either been absolutely no
action or the action taken has been so half-hearted and
diluted that it has been of no practical use.
For instance, in the Joy Vaz case, the Collector of North Goa
held an inquiry into the assault of the young photographer by
a senior Police officer and other police personnel, in the
presence of eye-witnesses. The Collector’s report however
concluded that there was insufficient evidence to press the
charges, and the case was dropped.
After Menino Afonso was attacked, once again by policemen,
GUJ tied up with the Department of Information and Publicity
to issue armbands, for identification, to field journalists.
This however, as inevitably it would when a careless
bureaucracy is involved, backfired when armbands were sported
by all and sundry, even departmental peons.
In the other cases, there has been no action taken to
apprehend the culprits, and the only tangible official action
noticed has been the provision of Police protection to Rajan
Narayan and the offices of O Heraldo and Gomantak/Gomantak
Why is this so?
GUJ (the Goa Union of Journalists) on its part has tried
varied measures to tackle these cases, whenever it has
received complaints to the effect.
In fact, the Joy Vaz case saw an impressive morcha and a
dharna before the Police headquarters, with the
Inspector-General of Police even agreeing to suspend the
Police officer concerned, pending the enquiry.
And the GUJ action in the Anthony Fernandes case has been
perhaps unprecedented, with public meetings held in Panaji,
Margao and Vasco, morchas in Panaji and Margao, and a
week-long chain hunger strike at the Panaji ferry point,
besides memoranda and meetings with the Goa Governor, the
Chief Minister and others.
The net result? Zero, it would seem.
Action had to be forthcoming from the Government. But what
the Government actually did was to promulgate the National
Security Act (NSA). This was never a demand of the Goa Union
of Journalists, for the NSA is, as we are only painfully
aware, much more often than not, misused; and the GUJ itself
was criticised for this act of the Government.
But the men who brutally assaulted Anthony Fernandes are
still free. And there is no guarantee that another Anthony
Fernandes somewhere else will not be beaten near-unconscious
at any time for penning the truth.
The reason for the Government’s action — nay, its hesitation
– to make even a definite statement on the whole case is
clear. The people about whom Anthony Fernandes wrote, the
people who then hit him with swords and iron rods, themselves
enjoy political patronage. Immense money power is also wielded
by this section, which makes politicians reluctant to
What then must GUJ do to secure justice to its members?
Drastic action seems to be the answer. What form should this
take and how drastic should it be? The main weapon
journalists have is their pen — the power of their words. In
order to use this weapon, GUJ needs the backing of newspaper
editors and managements.
This is essential.
O Heraldo, Gomantak and Gomantak Times have been cooperative
in sticking-up for journalists assaulted. But photographer
Joy Vaz found himself in dire straits when his editor claimed
that he had never been sent on the assignment at which he was
Cooperation in this kind of a case is difficult to expect.
And cooperation is essential to prevent field staff from
being assaulted while covering agitations, morchas and the
like, the newspaper could at least provide armbands stating
clearly the newspaper’s name, and this could be given to the
staffer assigned to cover the event.
And when a case like this comes up, the newspaper has to
support its employees, because it is while working for the
newspaper that the employee suffers, and so it is as much an
attack on the publication as on the individual.
It is desirable that the Goa Union of Journalists and the Goa
Editors’ Guild discuss this issue and work out a strategy, or
at least, a loose plan, for concerted action in cases of such
For such cases will perhaps continue. As the people are more
and more dissatisfied with the way things stand, as
anti-social elements become bolder, as the Press beleaguered
by competition grows increasingly vocal, lathis and iron rods
will be wielded only more often and more forcefully.
We must be prepared.
Vidya Heble worked for the Gomantak Times in its early days,
and after both reporting and editing for a number of
different publications, is now based in Singapore.
Supreme Court lawyer and human rights campaigner Nandita Haksar’s (et
al) just-released report ‘Broken Peace: Fact finding report on the
first communal violence in Goa’ is now available online, for those
PDF version (with annexures):
Plain-text version (without annexures)
Incidentally, the report makes some references to the media. It seems
to have however overlooked the role of a section of the media in
fuelling rumours that could have aggravated the violence.
Some of its references:
Page 2 of the Introduction: Thanks Preetu Nair for introducing the
team to people who proved valuable in its investigations. Thanks Sujay
Gupta of the Gomantak Times for inviting Nandita Haksar to participate
in the discussion on communal violence.
Page 3: Subhash Velingker … has a regular column in the only Konkani
daily, Sonarprant (sic). Unfortunately, the editor of Sonaprant claims
he is both secular and leftist. But many Goans, including Ramesh G
Naik and Dr Pratap Naik SJ have expressed their concern about the
growing communalization of their society because of the language issue
(and) have expressed their anger at the Editor for publishing the
vicious anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim articles by Subhash Verlingker.
Father Pratap Naik, a linguist and in-charge of the Thomas Stephens
Konknni Kendr wrote to Ms Sonia Gandhi informing her that the
Sonaprant which is owned by Dattaraj Salgaoncar, mine owner and
staunch Congress supporter, was sowing seeds of communalism and linked
it to the violence in Sanvordem-Curchorem….
Page 20: The next day the newspapers reported that an illegal mosque
had been demolished by some miscreants. Niraj Naik’s SMS-based news
service reported on March 2, 2006 at 10.29.07 IST: “Miscreants
demolish disputed masjid at Goddemol, Sanvordem last night. Five
arrested. The masjid was declared illegal. But court had stayed its
The language of this short cryptic message needs to be analyzed. The
word “disputed” seems to suggest that it was a dispute between Hindus
and Muslims which there is none. No one has disputed that the
structure belonged to the Muslim community. Everyone agrees that the
land on which it was built was government land. And that the structure
had been there for more than three decades. It is true that the
structure was illegal in so far as the land still belonged to the
government on record. However, in addition to the mosque which was
demolished there are on the same land a temple, hotel, a house
constructed by the Sarpanch Baptist Fernandes within 150 metres of the
madarsa-mosque that was demolished….
Page 48: The arrest of the Kashmiri “terrorist”: When we asked how
come the police told the media within minutes of arresting a man that
he was a “terrorist” and subjected him to a trial by media, the SP
(South) said that the media “happened to be present at the railway
station” when the arrest took place.
The man arrested was not given an opportunity to call a lawyer and the
media presumed him guilty even without any evidence. The media
reporting and the attitude of the police had the direct result of
putting fear into the Hindu minds in Curchorem. They became victims of
politics of fear. The Hindu professional who had initiated this peace
initiative told us he lost five friends who called him pro-Muslim and
have stopped talking to him.
The challenge before the Goan civil society is to first acknowledge
the ugly reality that the Sangh Parivar along with the Congress party
are using the war against terror for their own electoral politics and
communalizing the society and state machinery. This has resulted in
the large part of the media to become party to this insidious
politics, leaving very little democratic space for open discussions
and debate. The only way to save Goa is to fight the politics of fear
and speak out against all those who are responsible for trying to turn
Goa into another Gujarat….
Here’s the new site created for the Goa Union of Journalists in early-April 2006. You’ll find some photos to the years gone by, and a link to an e-book called ‘The Net for Journalists: A practical guide to the internet. There’s also another useful link to an e-book on covering labour issues and reports by past general secretaries to the GUJ taking stock of the years gone by. Do check it out…