This is the video footage of the press conference we held at Press Club, Ernakulam on September 23rd. This press conference was in news for many reasons and a hate campaign was unleashed on us by the right wing media. When you see this you will be able to decide for yourself who was attacked by whom. In any case, some things must be said.
It was a reporter from Janam TV (An openly right wing news and media channel in Kerala. It was denied permission to launch itself twice due to RSS links and got approval as soon as Modi government came to power.) who asked us if we were connected to Popular Front of India. NIA report was to come on 3rd October. So how was it that this reporter on 23rd September, spoke about the reports Asokan, Women’s Commission and Human Rights Commission had given NIA? You can see this part around 2:56 minutes.)
In the present context, I would like to draw your attention to how similar the Janam TV reporter and mediaperson from Open magazine, Shahina K K are, in their arguments on social media and other platforms. Hope you know the difference between Sreekanth from Janam TV saying such things and a privileged senior mediaperson like Shahina with all her clout and influence saying the same.
Both of them ask the same questions regarding Hadiya’s name. Sreekanth’s very first question was regarding that. (2: 55-) In her post in which she completely demonised Hadiya’s husband, Shafin Jahan, a Muslim man with no privileges, she says the same thing. She argues that Shafin Jahan is lying when he says that those were spelling mistakes. Both Sreekanth and Shahina quote the same portion of the High Court verdict and say that you can’t call that what’s on an affidavit, a spelling mistake. There is nothing wrong in two people thinking the same way. That’s how ideologies are formed. But I think this should be put on record.
Sreekanth then spoke about the NIA report. (2: 56 -) Shahina says that Open magazine’s Delhi bureau got access to the NIA report. What secrecy does NIA maintain with reports that can be accessed by Open magazine and Janam TV alike? A right wing Hindu activist told me that he was 99.0% certain that the NIA report was going to say that ‘love jihad’ existed.
Shahina says that NIA report can be accessed by making a few calls. So why is it that other media did not get access to it? Please don’t say that it is because they didn’t make those calls. When Hindu right wingers and Shahina K K (her Delhi bureau) claim in the same manner that they have access to the NIA report and that they know that it establishes that ‘love jihad’ exists, why should it be ignored?
On top of this, people are speaking on social media about the NIA report. One person said that our mouths will be shut when it comes because he worked for the NIA. Hadiya’s father, Asokan says, exuding confidence, that he will happily read out the report to her. Who read out the report to Asokan?
When did Human Rights Commission and Women’s Commission visit Hadiya? When people went there Asokan allowed no one (except Rahul Easwer, Sasikala and Kummanam) So these documents that Sreekanth claimed they gave the NIA – whom did they examine and visit to make these?
From 4:56 Sreekanth started mentioning Media One (Jamaate-Islami affiliated) reporter Shabna. He was talking of a writ petition that was made in High Court. Shabna was the first journalist to intervene when Sreekanth’s questions started getting aggressive. (6: 09) She then told him that she was the Media One reporter who approached the High Court. Sreekanth said that he didn’t know that.
At 7: 07 Mrudula (one of the 6 women who visited Hadiya) said firmly, that we were questioning the verdict of the High Court. Later all of us reiterated that. This was after he yelled if we (a few women) were questioning the court verdict. At the same time, Shahina gives free advice on social media that ‘you can say these on social media but not in court.’ Who is she representing or speaking for when she says that? The women she called ‘immature’ and ‘cheer girls’ were sincere enough to state that publicly. She wasn’t.
In the argument that followed this, Sreekanth again spoke in a one sided manner and Media One reporter intervened again. 7: 58. Later when he started asking us about Popular Front, she was the one who asked ‘why are you asking these girls that?’ (14: 30) We asked him to go ahead with the question.
At 12: 43 you can see this reporter stating the most favourite narrative of Shahina. The one about how Hadiya’s father Asokan is a naïve victim. She has written a long article just to state that Asokan needed help and was being abused by RSS. Keep in mind that Shahina is doing this in a space that these six women created by going there and shifting the entire discourse from only religion to that of human rights also. Everyone knows that a rapist also needs help. Which feminist or human doesn’t know that even then the victim has to be freed from the abuse and even the presence of the abuser? Yet she weaved a narrative in which Hadiya, her parents Asokan and Ponnamma were all victims of the same abuse by RSS. The Janam TV reporter who told us that Asokan was kind enough to let Hadiya do namaaz was saying the same thing without beating around the bush.
It is at 13: 12 that Media One reporter left the conference room. You can see the Janam TV reporter saying ‘I can now speak freely’ right after that. Around 15: 52, another argument happens. You can see the Media One reporter standing up and questioning him regarding something she thought he said about her. Other mediapersons intervened following this. I wish that Shahina figured out to express her right wing journalism the way the Janam TV reporter expressed his Islamophobia.
Note: I edited together two separate clips I had recorded on my phone. The uncut versions of both the clips are available. The lip sync has been compromised in many places because the phone was acting up due to calls and messages that interrupted the recording. I have tried to sync it as much as possible but didn’t get time to perfect it. We made a complaint to the secretary of Ernakulam Press Club regarding Sreekanth. We got to know that he made a complaint about Shabna from Media One. I intend to write more about Shahina K K’s journalism because it has a pattern (like how NIA said that the marriage had a pattern in Supreme Court J which was rejected ruthlessly) and has happened in various other issues. This is because I cannot unsee the damage her narrative and journalism did to Hadiya and Shafin Jehan. It was cruel and misleading to say the least.)