Letter to PTI – Distorted reporting of Arundhati Roy’s speech

June 7, 2010

To

Samir Mishra,
Regional Manager
Press Trust of India (PTI)
Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai

Re: Your report of Arundhati Roy’s talk in Mumbai:

The PTI report of the speech made by Arundhati Roy in Mumbai at a meeting organised by the CPDR (Committee for the protection of Democratic Rights) on June 2nd in Mumbai, was in many respects false. The report has ripped sentences and phrases from her presentation and re-arranged them in a way as to completely misrepresent what she said. The report also contains statements attributed to her which were in many material respects, false.

At the meeting Roy went on record to say she was against the killing of innocents and as correctly reported in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, June 3, 2010, that “she was not here to defend killing by any side”. She said that the Maoists were the most militant end of a spectrum of resistance movements all of who are protesting corporate landgrab and that the government deals with all of them with antagonism and repression. Contrary to the PTI report, she did NOT say that “… she will continue to back the Maoists’ armed struggle even if she is put behind bars.” She did NOT call upon the government to put her in jail for supporting Maoists, nor did she offer support to the Maoists. In fact, the Times of India, Mumbai edition, June 3, 2010, reports that she stated that “Maoists have revolutionary methods but not a revolutionary vision” and “their mining policy is not very different from that of the state. They too would mine the bauxite instead of leaving it in the hills, which is what the people they are fighting for want”. The Times further correctly records that she said “We need a vision outside of capitalism as also communism” Thus, in fact, she posed many serious questions to the Maoists. Roy said that the huge mining contracts in the heart of the tribal areas in central India pose a threat not only to tribals but to entire humanity, given the damage they will do to the environment. All these, which were the most significant part and the real gist of her talk, have been completely and blithely ignored by your staff reporter.

She did try to analyse the reasons why people take arms, why in particular tribal people are forced to take arms and she refused to support the military solution of the Home Ministry. Contrary to what has been set out in the PTI report, Roy did not say that “It ought (emphasis added) to be an armed movement”. We are not aware of her having “saluted the “people of Dantewada” after 76 CRPF and police personnel were mowed down by Maoists in the deadliest attack targeting security forces”. At the meeting she most certainly did NOT do so.

It is worth mentioning that the Hindu too did an accurate story on June 3 and interestingly PTI came up with this false and concocted version the next day, which was then picked up by Indian Express. TOI Delhi, NDTV, IBN Live, Economic Times and several Hindi and other language papers on June 4th who published this even though many of them had their own reporters present at the event.

It is unfortunate that the PTI has stooped to the level that it has done, disregarding all the rules of ethical reporting.

-sd-

Rahul Bose, Datta Iswalkar, Dr. Anand Teltumbde, P K Das (24308877), Anand Patwardhan (24143782), Meena Menon (98210 38474)

June 6, 2010