Ranjona Banerji: Shhh! No names please

24 Sep,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji

 

Social media is always quick to pick up on discrepancies and failures and then spread them far and wide. But are these “fact checks” by the public or those on social media necessarily correct and to be taken seriously? Through the week, allegations ran fast and free that India’s media refused or omitted to make clear that the massive cache of heroin discovered at an Indian port in Gujarat was a port owned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite business tycoon, Gautam Adani.

 

A quick look through headlines will tell you that social media is partially right: the word “Adani” did not always make it to headlines or to the first paragraphs of this incredible catch of almost 3000 kg of heroin, disguised as talcum powder, worth also Rs 21,000 crore. We knew in the first two paragraphs of most newspaper reports that the firm in Vijaywada, owned by a couple in Chennai who live in Delhi. That the drugs came via a port in Iran from Afghanistan. That the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had a tip off.

 

But the fact that the Mundra port is owned by APSEZ (Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone)? Hmm, there was a fair bit of powdering over you might argue – that fact was either left out altogether or hiding somewhere in the bottom of the story. The only time Adani was mentioned prominently was when the company issued a clarification that it had no control or jurisdiction over the goods shipped into the port.

 

That much is true. Adani is not culpable or responsible.

 

But as ever, there are broader implications. And a fascinating absence of lack of insinuation in the mainstream media. Comparisons were made, and naturally so, on social media about how a mere matter of 49 gm of marijuana mentioned in a WhatsApp chat made it to national TV and put a young woman in jail. Imagine if you will: any other state, any other government and any other company being involved, however elliptically, in such a massive drugs haul. Imagine what the sensationalist mainstream media, especially television, would have done with this story then.

 

What conclusion can we reach then? That more and more social media is correct in its insinuations because even if people get the details wrong, they know when the media is taking them for a ride. And this is clearly one of those times. The only possible reason one can find is the immense fear of legal threats and retribution to anyone who mentions some names in India, especially those that begin with A, JS and so on.

 

However, for India, the world and the media this drug haul is no small matter. What is the incidence of drug smuggling on the Gujarat coast? How many such shipments have slipped past the Adani-owned Mundra and other ports? Why has this possible point of entry been ignored by the authorities and the Indian media? Indeed, is there a more insidious reason why drug-smuggling through Gujarat has been ignored?

 

Neither, as far as one can tell, have the sensationalist media nor the “source-based” media picked up on this angle. It has taken one of the biggest drug hauls in recent times for anyone to pay any attention to the matter. Can we look forward to more on drug smuggling through Gujarat’s ports including Mundra, no matter who the ports are owned by? How many good jokes have you heard so far today?

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal

 

Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories
Videos