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The Naxals murdered Achyuta Nanda Sahu, but the Editors Guild killed him

Author: Nupur J Sharma
Publication: Opindia.com
Date: October 30, 2018
URL:      https://www.opindia.com/2018/10/the-naxals-murdered-achyuta-nanda-sahu-but-the-editors-guild-killed-him/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

“Do you know a man is not dead till his name is spoken?”

As journalists and content generators, we write about, talk about and report terrible tragedies every day. Every day, there is at least that one piece of news that makes us question humanity. One such incident today was when a team of Doordarshan news channel had gone to Dantewada to record a documentary film in the Naxal-affected area where elections are due to be held for the first time when the Maoists ambushed and attacked them. The slain Doordarshan cameraman was identified as Achyuta Nanda Sahu.

The Editors Guild of India, the body of journalists current chaired by Shekhar Gupta is meant to fight for journalists’ rights. Protect them when they can, and speak up for them when they can’t speak up for themselves.

After the news of Sahu’s murder surfaced, the Editors Guild released a “heartfelt” message.

They wrote:
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October 30, 2018

The Editors Guild of India is saddened to learn of the death of a camera person of Doordarshan and two policemen after they were attacked by Maoist insurgents in the Dantewada district of poll-bound Chhattisgarh. The Guild offers its condolences to the deceased and urges the law enforcement agencies in the state to provide necessary security and protection to the media professionals particularly when they are on election coverage duty. Creating a safe environment for media professionals to discharge their duties will be critical for ensuring freedom of the press

Shelchar Gupta
President

AK Bhattacharya
General Secretary

Sheela Bhatt
Treasurer
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When they tweeted this statement, the text of the tweet read:

“Editors Guild of India has issued a statement on the Dantewada Naxal attack that killed a Doordarshan camera person. You may also read the full statement here”.

Not once in the statement or the accompanying tweet was the name of the camera person mentioned.

Let us compare today’s statement to what the Editors Guild said when two journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison… in Myanmar. We know the two journalists were named Wa Lone and Kyaw Soeoo because Editors Guild named them in their statement. Their statement is as follows:
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Editos Guild of India

- Sep 03, 2018: Editors Guild condemns Myanmar court's verdict against two Reuters journalists

Editors Guild of India condemns a Myanmar court's verdict that has sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison after pronouncing them guilty of having breached the country's Official Secrets Act.

The Guild is opposed to the use of provisions under the Official Secrets Act in any country to throttle the voice of the media. The two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating the death of 10 Rohingya Muslims.

The Guild believes that the arrest and imprisonment of journalists are a big blow to democracy and demands their release from jail at the earliest.
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The Editors Guild released a long-winded statement when a communist mouthpiece was penalised for not adhering to the law of the land. The Registrar of Newspapers cancelled the registration of Desher Katha, which is a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India – Marxist for ‘unauthorised changed in ownership’. Their statement, in this case, is substantially longer than the one released today.. where they were talking about Achyuta Nanda Sahu being murdered by armed Naxals. Their full statement was:
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— Oct 03, 2018: The Editors Guild of India condemns the cancellation of registration of Daily Desher Katha

The Editors Guild of India condemns the decision of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) to cancel the registration of Daily Desher Katha, a daily newspaper published from Agartala.

According to media reports, the registration of Daily Desher Katha, a mouthpiece of the CPI-M in Tripura, was cancelled on the ground that there was "unauthorised change of ownership". According to the letter issued by the RNI to Daily Desher Katha, the registration was cancelled on the basis of a report from the sub-divisional magistrate. As a consequence, the daily suspended its publication on October 2 for the first time since its inception about four decades ago.

The Guild is of the view that cancellation of the registration of a publication on the mere finding that there was a mismatch between the information of the editor, printer and publisher is not only a gross overreaction but also a draconian step that throttles freedom of the media.

The Guild demands immediate revocation of the order on the cancellation of the registration of Daily Desher Katha, pending further inquiry into the charges of misinformation. It also demands that a thorough inquiry is instituted by the government to investigate whether the decision was politically motivated.
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Then there is the phraseology of today’s statement which was extremely interesting. “Attack that killed a camera person”. “Saddened”. “Death of camera person”. “Condolences”. “Urge for protection”.

Compare that with the terminology used in the other two statements. “Strongly condemns”. “Opposed to”. “Blow to democracy”. “Draconian step”. “Demands”, so on and so forth.

In the profession of journalism or any content generation, for that matter, the message that words convey is of paramount importance. A man (or woman) of the letter knows the value a slight change of wording holds. One ought to know the difference between “anger” and “rage”, “saddened” and “outraged”, “death and “murder”, “urges” and “demands”. One would assume that the difference is not lost on the Editors Guild, no less. What then could be the reason for the Editors Guild to issue a pussyfooting, vanilla statement when a journalist has been brutally murdered by armed Naxals while shooting word bullets when a communist mouthpiece’s registration is cancelled for not adhering to the law?

What inspired that Editors Guild to name the two journalists imprisoned in Myanmar under the law of their land, and condemn their arrest in the strongest possible terms, while treating Achyuta Nanda Sahu like a nameless, dispensible pawn?

It is said that a man is not dead till his name is spoken. Even in death, his spirit lives on. He lives on as his name echoes through the ages. The Editors Guild has seldom stood up for the ones who truly put their lives at risk bringing the readers stories from the most dangerous parts of the country. They ignore the very folks who risk their lives to report, so people like them can sit in their air-conditioned chambers and opine on the news they harvested.

The Editors Guild could not even bring themselves to name Achyuta Nanda Sahu. To honour his spirit. To honour his sacrifice. To news. To his job. To the Editors Guild, Achyuta Nanda Sahu was just a cameraman. A pawn that didn’t deserve a seat at the elite table. A pawn that is meant to serve and enable the opinions that the five-star journalists and agenda pushers pen down. He didn’t deserve to be named.

One is reminded of journalist Jagendra Singh, who was burnt alive in Uttar Pradesh allegedly because he posted some news reports about illegal mining and land grabbing by a local Samajwadi Party leader Ram Murti Verma, who was also a minister in Akhilesh Yadav cabinet. The silence of the five-star journalists in Singh’s case echoes till date.

One is forced to wonder if these journalists’ murders are met with a cold shrug and indifference because their work doesn’t cater to the perfumed elite. The champagne sipping circle to which the Editors Guild members and most of the Lutyen’s pen pushers belong.

For the Editors Guild, Achyuta Nanda Sahu didn’t serve their agenda. The communist mouthpiece and journalists covering Rohingya’s in Myanmar did. Democracy, freedom, liberty and rights don’t perish for lowly cameramen, they perish only for communist mouthpieces.

The Naxals murdered Achyuta Nanda Sahu but the Editors Guild killed him by erasing his name from their condolence. They killed him by disregarding his spirit. By denying him life in death by letting his name live on. The Editors Guild just proved that their outrage is reserved for those join their purpose, not the ones who serve the cause of journalism.
 
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