Skip to content Skip to navigation

Exposing corrupt journalists of our time

Corruption in journalism often makes news in Indian media. The creator of news also emerges as a matter of reporting in many parts of the country. The alienated Northeast too never ignored the trend. In fact, soon after the arrest of an Assamese scribe for his involvement in a bribery case with a seasoned politician, the issue comes to the center stage of Assam media.

While it was appalling news for the people of Assam, as one of its active state ministers was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials few weeks back in New Delhi with the charges of offering bribe to an officer (to get rid of a murder case), more shocking news waited for the media persons. The investigation agency also picked up the scribe accusing himto get involved in the episode. The arrest of Mukul Pathak, who was associated with an Assamese daily along with the then Education minister Ripun Bora (third prey was a Delhi-based businessman, Ramesh Maheswari), made huge media headlines for many days in Assam.

The immediate reaction of the people in general and media persons in particular was that Mukul got nothing but his dues. Meanwhile wild allegations were poured against the young scribe that he managed hundred thousand bucks with his unethical understanding and activities with the minister. Few journalists came out with more serious versions that Mukul destroyed the image of Assam media to the greatest extent. Those journalists even tried to create an atmosphere that after Mukul's arrest, everything became so crystal clear and the Assam media emerged as a place for holy cows only.

So there were hot debates and discussions about the punishments that could be pronounced to Mukul, who was then serving the term for judicial custody at Tihar jail. If the CBI can arrest him for his involvement in episode of bribing one of its officers with Rs 10,00,000 in cash by the minister, why not the journalists' body could condemn and expel him from the community-many journalists raised voices. There was however little voice in support of Mukul to explain his point of views. It was a general understanding that if Mukul was arrested by the CBI (which can never do wrong!), he must have been a criminal. And hence there were no point discussing his version of self defense and even not to wait for the final verdict of the court regarding the episode.

But a journalists' meeting at Guwahati Press Club on June 22 changed the face of anger against Mukul. Organized by the Journalists' Action Committee, Assam and the representative of National Federation of Newspaper Employees, the meeting insisted on providing space for Mukul to clarify his stand at the earliest. Presided over by a journalist Keshab Kalita, the meeting also decided to send a delegation of journalists to New Delhi to meet Mukul and pick up his explanation on the incident. The delegation was supposed to meet the concerned CBI officials as well.

Various speakers in the meeting were unanimous in asserting that Mukul could never be 'the only and the last tainted reporter', working in Assam for various media. It was observed that a section of journalists tried to establish it with their comments soon after the incident. Hence they urged the editors to keep a vigil on the working journalists of the respective media houses.

"If Mukul is proved to be involved in the episode, for which he was arrested by the CBI, the journalists' body would support appropriate actions against the reporter. He will also be expelled from the journalists' body," said in a resolution of the meeting.

In another resolution, the meeting demanded the minimum salary and other economic facilities to the working journalists of Assam. Speakers including Prakash Mahanta (a senior journalist and the secretary of Journalists Action Committee, Assam), Sabita Lahkar (editor of an Assamese monthly, Ajori), Mukul Kalita and Naresh Kalita (both are Guwahati based senior journalists) expressed resentment at the disappointing condition of the working journalists of the state, where over 60% of them were compelled to work without a proper appointment letter, salary structure, leave and other relevant facilities, which are recommended by various laws including the Indian Labour Act. The meeting was also addressed by Pankaj Dutta, Neetumoni Saikia, Samir Sandilya, Nayanjyoti Bhuyan (all are reporters associated with vernacular media) etc.

"This is very unfortunate that media persons in Assam have to work with a salary starting with even Rs. 2000 with absolutely no job security. Many times, the journalists (including the editors) are used by the proprietors of media groups for their business (other than media) interest. So in such a chaotic situation, we can hardly expect a fair journalism in the state," commented a Guwahati based senior citizen, Dimbeswar Talukder. He however added that it was not only the local and less paid scribes, who were engaged with some corrupt means, but a section of established journalists (belonged to news agencies and metro dailies) with adequate financial security too continued indulging with such kind of activities.

His comment was supported by a city based scribe, Haren Kalita, arguing that there were many journalists, who pursued unethical means for personal benefits, of course, in a different way. "Why are you making so much noise against the poor reporter (Mukul Pathak)? Do not you know that many so-called senior and responsible journalists were equally involved in corrupt practices? I know that they do it in a more polished manner. So nobody find it worth bothering," he commented.

Devashish Bhattacharjee, another city based reporter raised a vital point, "Take an example. We have a number journalist cum documentary film makers (employed with professional media houses) in the city, who works for the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India). There may be nothing wrong to produce documentaries for Doordarshan, but when one does it on some government departments, it might turn sour. Suppose, one proposes for productions related to the state forest department and take all possible advantages (conveyance to lodging in forest guest houses) from the department while on shooting, is not it a wring way? Because the producers had already received (or will receive) the money against all relevant expenditures from Prasar Bharati, then why he should go begging the unethical support from the department? Will he be able to raise voice (to file news) against the department in future in a credible way?"

Bhattacharjee wrapped up with a final say, "Was not exactly it a cause, why many journalists in Assam ignored the public resentment against the state forest department during the last few months for its failure to protect the endangered one horn rhinos in various national preserves? One can go for record that those journalists remained silent while the conscious people of the state came to the streets condemning the state forest minister for his negligence in duties, but they were too quick to report when the minister or the forest officials made some statements (though many times those were proved useless). Is not it a matter of corruption in different shape and sizes?
Author info

Nava Thakuria's picture

Senior journalist based in Guwahati.


Pallavi Barua's picture

Is Devashish Bhattacharjee talking of Mrinal Kumar Talukdar who works with UNI ? Indeed, the plight of the Rhino has never been focussed.
Nanda Kirati Dewan's picture

Indeed a matter of Concern...... Assamese media industry will take another 10yrs minimum to make a secured establishment for its employees of all grades. Anyways, Let us join hands together to build a corruption Free Independent Media in Assam and let this be the last episode.
Pallavi Barua's picture

Last Episode! This is a Pandora's Box.... more and more virus will crop up.....Assamese Media is rotten.... from top to bottom.... NO EXPLANATIONS PLEASE..... I know the reality, inside out...
Devashish Bhattacharjee's picture

may be Pallavi, you guess. Mrinal works for UNI, makes time to produce documentary for Prasar Bharati. Guwahati UNI was silent on public resentment against forest department.
raktim baruah's picture

Nava-da, your article clearly visualises the derogatory situation of Assamese media. It is unquestionable that Assamese media become ally of hegemonic political-leaders.thereby the hopes and aspirations of Assamese people began evaporating.thanks.


Add new comment

Random Stories

Witch-hunting rattles Kokrajhar; 2 killed

27 Oct 2014 - 10:35pm | Hantigiri Narzary
Yet another witch-hunting incident sends no less shock and anger across the state where villagers in Kokrajhar district killed a couple on Monday wee hours. Police, however, arrested three persons in...

Self help week starts at ADBU

26 Jan 2016 - 9:20pm | CM Paul
The Vice-Chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU) Dr Stephen Mavely and Prof. D.K. Bhattacharjee of Computer Science Department Tezpur University inaugurated Community Self Help Week, 25th...

Mammoth security for NRC draft

31 Dec 2017 - 10:51am | AT News
  GUWAHATI: An unprecedented security arrangement is in place in the nook and corner of the state in view of the brisk preparedness to publish the first NRC draft. Security forces are fanning...

Senior leaders back Gogoi

21 Jul 2014 - 11:20am | AT News
A section of senior leaders is believed to have taken the side f Tarun Gogoi as chief minister who is set to meet the dissident ministers and ministers on Monday evening. Sources told Assam Times...

Other Contents by Author

It’s shocking to report that a number of Guwahati-based scribes and RTI (right to information) activists have been facing interrogation and even arrest by Assam chief minister’s special vigilance cell following the allegations of Sewali Devi Sharma, the prime accused in Rs 105 crore State council of educational research and training (SCERT) scam, as being blackmailers to her in different occasions. The arrestees include a female reporter (identified as Pujamoni Das alias Honey Kashyap, who reportedly took a large volume of money from Ms Sharma) along with a satellite news channel reporter named Bhaskarjoti Hazarika.  RTI activists namely Rabijit Gogoi (who pretended to be a...
Can we imagine a world of zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero carbon emissions with a new approach in post-corona economics! Ask Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and he will answer in the affirmative. The university professor turned revolutionary banker believes that the human race should not only dream about a safer world by reducing global warming, wealth concentration and unemployment, but also work in that direction with personal and collective capacities. In his latest book titled ‘A World of Three Zeros’, Prof Yunus proposes a new economic system focusing on every human being as an entrepreneur in the making. He believes that humans are not born to work only for...
Guwahati: Assam is all set to host first sustainable financial working group (SFWG) meeting and Youth 20 inception meeting as part of India's year-long G20 presidency, where it is meticulously chalked out various tour programs that would help in promoting the State’s rich biodiversity and socio-cultural heritage in international arena. The authorities have completed the preparation to welcome the foreign delegates to the State. Guwahati is adorned with digital wall painting, thematic gates, flags of G 20 countries, LED cut-outs, standees, hoarding, etc as part of branding and beautification. The government has also completed the arrangement for the visiting delegates to places of...
Guwahati: India observes National Press Day on 16 November with an aim to pay tributes to everyone who contributed to the growth of print media along with its mentor & watchdog the Press Council of India (PCI). Moreover, it’s also an occasion for the practicing media persons to introspect seriously over their noble profession where it has been heading in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era. Since its inception and functioning, the PCI continues to symbolize a free and responsible press in the largest democracy in the world. Among all press or media councils, functioning in various countries, the PCI is recognised as a unique entity that exercises authority over the media and also safeguards...
Participating in a debate on satellite television or digital channels needs some homeworks to make the deliberations short and clear. Unless you face an arrogant anchor and unruly participants, the experience in talk shows normally emerges as an intriguing one. It happened to me, as I had recently participated in a digital media discussion on the pertinent issue of National Register of Citizens  (NRC) in Assam, where the prime guest was none other than the immediate past State NRC coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma. The talk show host Dikshit Sharma put the questions in a clever way so that the issue comes alive and my part was just to interpret Dev Sarma’s version for clarity to the valued...
Guwahati: It was an amazing experience to attend the foundation day of a 25 year old press club in central Assam on a lazy Sunday, where a number of senior citizens along with rural scribes and novice journalists were waiting to listen to my speech. It’s easier to address a journalist’s meet- where we can discuss many issues with liberties, but while the audience includes respected senior citizens and young people, it becomes a difficult task to speak to them together. First, the question that arises, how much should I highlight the eroding credibility of the mainstream media around India in general and Assam in particular and secondly what may be the role of social (alternate/digital)...
Guwahati: A year-long celebration of 100 years of sports journalism in Assam begins coinciding on the day while the first ever news related to a football competition is published in Asomiya (a weekly news magazine mentored by Chandra Kumar Agarwala) on 1  July 1923. Assam Sports Journalists Association (ASJA), which is affiliated with the Sports Journalists Federation of India (a national affiliate of the International Sports Press Association), has taken the lead in celebrating the occasion that will culminate on 1  July next year. On Saturday, flags for ASJA and the centenary celebration were hoisted by ASJA’s founder president Balendra Mohan Chakraborty and his successor...
Reactions from the public (sensitive readers) against a news item in any newspaper (also news channel) are usual in India, but outrages against the mainstream media outlets in digital platforms for not covering a particular issue is definitely an unusual phenomenon. The north-eastern state of Assam witnessed such public fury against some of the editor-journalists for avoiding press conferences by opposition political parties where they targeted the state chief minister for his family’s alleged land scam. The organized public uproar in the alternate media was so intense that the celebrity editor-journalists of Assam did not dare to clarify their positions. They preferred to avoid the...
Hyderabad: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has strongly condemned the incident of assault on a Manipur journalist and urged the state chief minister, N. Biren Singh, to book the culprits under the law. The National Union of Subscribes also wished for an early recovery of Elangbam Rameshwar, who works as a Thoubal correspondent for the Naharolgi Thoudang regional daily newspaper, which is published from Imphal. Local media hinted that the handiwork was masterminded by some Congress workers in the Thoubal locality of the north-eastern state, who were attacked by a group of 20 to 25 masked men in the morning hours on 24 October. The rural reporter faced assault at his residence in the...
Hyderabad: The national executive committee meeting of Indian Journalists Union (IJU), which concluded on Sunday in the capital city of Telangana, discussed various burning issues concerning the practitioners of journalism across India and emphasized on effective safety & security to journalists, reforms in Press Council of India (PCI) and basic minimum facilities to the media fraternity sustaining the spirit under freedom of the press to serve the largest democracy on the globe. Chaired by IJU president K Sreenivas Reddy, the two-day meeting held at Tourism Plaza in Begumpet locality expressed serious concern over killings of journalists by anti-social elements and filing of cases...