Barkha Dutt - a new controversy!

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I love getting comments but the reaction I got from one of my journalist friends, who was with ‘The Hindu’ for 5 years, came as a surprise to me.
‘I won't say a word about your review. But I have to take you up on your statement that some soldiers were killed saving Barkha Dutt's life. Nothing of that sort ever happened. Your review is your opinion. You are entitled to it. But that statement passes off as information, as absolute truth, and you do not attempt to back it.'
Lots of people, especially Barkha, NDTV and news baiters, would take that sort of statement to be true. I don't care about Barkha, but this surely insults the soldiers who thought they were dying for a nobler cause.’

Feroze

People have slowly started forgetting the 1999 Kargil war between Indian and Pakistan and the episode has got into the history books. Lots of soldiers were killed in the war, and many were maimed for life.

Indian filmmakers didn’t find any other cashable story idea other than the Kargil war that could help them make some quick money. Several movies were made based on the war, and most of them were hits at the box office. It also gave an opportunity for our countrymen to prove their patriotism by sitting in an air conditioned hall, munching a pack of pop corn, and to watch the turmoil and agony Indian soldiers went through at the borders.

Recently I happened to review the latest Farhan Akhtar’s movie Lakshya, and in the write up I had mentioned…

‘Preity Zinta breaks her engagement (this seems to be her prime job in Akhtar’s movie), as she finds career more important than personal life. If so, why she gets busy in gaining Hrithik’s attention at Kargil when audience expect some dare devil reporting stuff from her is quite debatable. Barkha Dutt of NDTV, who did an amazing job of reporting from Kargil in 1999, inspires Preity’s character - not to forget that few soldiers were killed in saving Barkha’s life.’

I love getting comments but the reaction I got from one of my journalist friends, who was with ‘The Hindu’ for 5 years, came as a surprise to me.

‘I won't say a word about your review. But I have to take you up on your statement that some soldiers were killed saving Barkha Dutt's life. Nothing of that sort ever happened.

Your review is your opinion. You are entitled to it. But that statement passes off as information, as absolute truth, and you do not attempt to back it.

Lots of people, especially Barkha, NDTV and news baiters, would take that sort of statement to be true. I don't care about Barkha, but this surely insults the soldiers who thought they were dying for a nobler cause.’

Feroze

I remembered reading a story about few soldiers who got killed saving Barkha Dutt. The only reply I could give my friend was…

‘Thanks for your comment. I remember reading a report on the same long back. Will confirm on the same, if it was yes..i won't remove the sentence, and if it was otherwise..i would surely remove it with a sincere apology note.’

I asked God - I mean Google to give me the necessary information to substantiate my stance. I didn’t get a single website that talked about this controversy, which probably was suppressed by the media. All the sites were all ga ga about Barkha’s achievement as a journalist and her dare devil attitude in the world of journalism.

Failing to find a report, I got in touch with another journalist friend of mine and thankfully he supported me. He said, “signals emitted by the wireless devices used by Barkha were easily tracked by the Pakistanis and it helped them bomb Indian spots which in turn killed few Indian soldiers.”

I wanted some more information. And thankfully Feroz came back with his 2nd comment…

‘My apologies Kennedy. Barkha Dutt did get some soldiers killed during the Kargil war. However, they did not die attempting to save her. They were killed by her disgustingly irresponsible manner of reportage. I blame the army too for giving in to her; their allegiance lies with the country and not NDTV, and they simply did not have to listen to Barkha Dutt.’

Here's a clarification I got from a journalists group on the incident:

‘Dear Feroze,

What I understand is that Barkha Dutt wanted a PTC -- I think, Person to Camera -- shot of soldiers during an interview at dead of night. The soldiers did not want flashlight on as the enemy can detect and fire but she insisted. Finally, the expected happened and a few soldiers lost their lives but not Barkha Dutt. This is controversial reporting, despite given her Columbia school training.
Best, Arul’

The aim of this blog isn’t to put down Barkha or to doubt her guts she had in the reporting war from the location where it took place. It is just an attempt to tell that what we come to know through media need not be true always.

If you have more details about this controversy, please post them as comments.

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