Indian Express in its second lead on front page on Thursday have twisted itself into a tangle. Its’ murder of logic is something which Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes (or our own Col. Vinod) would utterly fail to solve.
Its’ Ayodhya story has so many loose ends that its multiple writers (the creditline is: Express News Service) could win world championship in “Fake News” but to pass them off as journalists is only possible in most creepy and insane mental asylum. And to think somebody actually cleared the copy and decorated the Front Page with it is Ripley’s textbook material. Such scripts can present the whodunit movie makers a guaranteed blockbuster.
The 1000-word gorilla of a story essentially tries to prove that Kapil Sibal was representing an individual client and not UP Sunni Waqf Board and the guy (Haji Mehboob) who snubbed Sibal on his unprompted remark “postpone-Ayodhya-hearing-till-July 2019” was not a member of the board.
Readers can read the entire Express story in this link and then most possibly would join me in posing a set of questions to the newspaper:
(a) Even if Sibal is representing this individual client Iqbal Ansari (this guy must be rich to afford Sibal), his remarks have been disowned by Ansari himself. So whose case is Mr Sibal fighting? (our guess is Congress. Express could’ve asked even “piddi” to get this answer).
(b) Express quotes a lawyer of the UP Sunni Waqf Board for claiming Haji Mehboob is not its member. It then quotes Mehboob for having met Sibal in Delhi three days ago. In what capacity? (for as per Express Sibal-Waqf Board-Haji Mehboob are all unrelated).
(c) Express states that Mehboob replaced his father as a defendant in the Ayodhya case. Who’s the father? Express doesn’t make an effort to clarify.
(d) Express brings All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to buttress its story with this quote in support of Sibal. “…it was not the right time to take up the matter for final hearing.” But who’s AIMPLB? Isn’t the body in question in UP Sunni Waqf Board? Why not speak to them and find out whether they had authorized Sibal’s views or not?
(e) For a moment, let’s admit AIMPLB is legitimate body to comment. Shouldn’t Express have asked them how they arrived at the conclusion that the “right time” has to be after July 2019?
(f) Could it be that Express wasn’t able to access Sunni Waqf Board? But then how was it able to lay hand on one of its Advocates-on-Record and quote him extensively without asking the primary question: What’s UP Sunni Waqf Board stance?
(g) What are readers supposed to make sense when it reads from other sources that UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Ahmed Farooqi has said: “none of the members supported the view that the case be deferred.” (Express can claim it couldn’t get Farooqi on record. But would it carry Sunni Waqf Board’s views next day?)
Express then states that Modi has “picked up” the Sibal quote and goes on extensively to quote the latter, allowing him to offer his defence.
Sibal predictably lays into BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing them of having no principle in politics. He outlines the virtues of Congress and how it wants unity in the country. His grouse against employment, exports, GDP situation in the country is allowed full vent.
But Express fails to ask Sibal a basic question: Who do you think you were representing? Neither UP Sunni Waqf Board nor your independent client has supported your comment. If indeed you are present in the hearing as a lawyer and not as a politician, why colour the legal proceedings with apprehensions on political fallout in 2019 General Elections?
Express doesn’t ask some basic questions in this story. All it does is to sweat and put Sibal and Sunni Waqf Board in separate pigeon holes and labours to make them appear in better light.
The attempt is a massive flop. And even its diehard fans are asking: How come “journalism of courage” has turned into “gutter of journalism?”