Journalist as hitman: maligning Najeeb wasn’t a first for Raj Shekhar Jha

Shahnawaz Malik

Rajasekhar Jha has been reporting crime in the Times of India for a long time. Since I was also a crime reporter in the Hindi newspaper Navbharat Times of the same institute, I got a chance to see and understand the exploits of Rajeshkhar Jha.

After seeing a few samples of his crime reporting, no one can come to the conclusion that this journalist of Bennett & Coleman Company is a sycophant of the police. Most of the so-called exclusive stories of Rajasekhar are written in reference to ‘Reliable Sources of Delhi Police’.

Undoubtedly it is the prerogative of a crime reporter to investigate all claims of the police but Rajasekhar’s journalism actually runs contrary to this. In his reports he extensively reproduces the claims of Delhi Police. In any high profile case, the Delhi Police conducts a press conference to share the information of the case with the journalists. But the game of Rajasekhar is ahead of it. Apart from the general information of the press conference he writes a few sensational things by quoting reliable sources of police which the Delhi Police cannot afford to tell in its press conference.

Most of Rajasekhar’s stories fail to critically take the claims of police. Occasionally in reports of some petty crime Rajeshekhar attempts to raise questions on the Delhi Police but it is a stupid attempt to keep its image neutral. While reporting terror cases he does not raise questions on the claims of Delhi Police. Rather writes making a case for those claims to be true.

Rajasekhar must be well-aware what prompted him to plant a fake story of the IS connection of JNU student Najeeb gone missing four months ago after an altercation with some ABVP members in JNU campus. But as we are seeing, there is constant pressure on the investigating agency to find Najeeb or bring an urgent lead related to this case. In such a case, the fake story of Najeeb’s IS connection could work as a relief for the investigating agency had the people closely following this case had taken a notice of it.

As I mentioned above, Rajshekhar is known for the delightful story of Delhi Police, it can be absolutely ascertained that his intention behind fabricating this story is to ease off the pressure on the investigating agency. If the response which his story has generated not been there then the police would have been happy. Rajashekhar is not known for such stories which could possibly be critical of the Delhi Police’s version of case. Had this fake story not been scrutinized seriously then the assaulters of the missing JNU students Najeeb and also co-students of the same university would have got momentary relief and the investigation agency. The pressure on the investigating agency has been mounting for proper interrogating the assaulters of Najeeb and several demonstrations by various student organisations have been organised in past months.

Since Najeeb’s case is a high-profile one. JNUSU and common students are closely monitoring the developments into it therefore this time the bluff of Rajasekhar has been scrutinized else he has been deliberately planting stories for long.

On the morning of August 19 2014 the special cell of Delhi Police had nabbed a prized criminal Firoz alias Fauji in Soniya Vihar area. I felt that the claims of police about the alleged encounter of Firoz must be verified in order to establish how reliable is their version. Or was it a case of a staged encounter?

I was leaving in a taxi from the transport department of the office for Loni from where hailed the slained fugitive Feroze. Incidentally, Rajeshwar was also preparing to leave somewhere with a taxi. I told him that they should also investigate this encounter. In response he said that the slain was a criminal and therefore no one should talk about their human rights being violated. Rajashekhar’s response didn’t come as a surprise to me and it was important to mention this incident here to make better sense of Rajeshkar’s journalism.
Similarly, in October 2014 when Delhi’s Trilokpuri area witnessed communal violence Rajshekhar always got a video from the Delhi Police sources. In which two or four boys wearing a skull-cap on their heads were seen firing bullets and an image of which was printed in the Times of India.

It is not that the video that was spreading violence was only of the Muslim boys with skullcaps on their heads. Rather many videos of the Trilokpuri violence were being circulated but what is important that Rajashekhar wrote a story making this particular video his basis. In order to restore peace in Trilokpuri many civil society organizations of Delhi who were working had expressed surprise and awe on this biased reporting.

To conclude it all such a reporter becomes a blot on the organisation itself. The Times of India should seriously take cognizance of the working methods of Rajshekhar.

(Shahnawaz Malik is a known young journalist)

Translated from Hindi by Areeb Rizwi, published first on MediaVigil.com

  • K SHESHU BABU

    Stories like these not only cause severe dent on the confidence on the newspaper but also, many reports may be viewed with suspicion. Ultimately, people will be devoid of good correct journalism