Everybody loves a martyr in India. And the intensity of love is so great that if some group finds no suitable candidate in sight, they invent one. The beatification of Harish Khare, who recently resigned as editor-in-chief of The Tribune, is a typical case of martyr- and myth-making by Left-liberals. No prizes for guessing his tormentor right: it is the usual suspect, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Now, Khare is a grandee of the Left-liberal establishment, having won his spurs by castigating communalists in no uncertain terms and serving as media adviser to former prime minister Manmohan Singh. He joined The Tribune in June 2015 as the big boss on a standard, three-year contract. That is, his term was about to expire in less than three months—something that would have been bland. His resignation, even though it didn’t ascribe any reasons for it, offered our professional revolutionaries an opportunity to give the halo of martyrdom to their hero.
So, one of their biggest platforms, the news portal called thewire.in does a special report (https://thewire.in/media/tribune-editor-harish-khare-puts-in-his-papers) insinuating that the great editor was eased out because, among other things, the expose about the privacy and security lapses of Aadhaar. This, as we know, did cause a lot of embarrassment to the government.
“The trust is currently headed by N.N. Vohra, governor of Jammu and Kashmir,” thewire.in story says. “Vohra took charge after the former head, Justice S.S. Sodhi quit in the face of a revolt within the staff at the manner in which he forced The Tribune to publish an apology to a senior Akali politician, Bikram Singh Majithia, for running a series of stories on his alleged involvement in the drug trade in the state. The apology was carried, but when Khare and the employees’ union pushed back, Sodhi resigned and was replaced by Vohra as president of the trust.”
In short, we are presented a familiar scenario: a champion of liberty upholding the highest standards of journalism fighting against authoritarianism and crime, constantly fretted and chafed by the powers that be.
In another website (http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/newsdetail/index/4/13314/harish-khare-forced-out-again-exit-casts-shadow-over-the-tribunes-independence), a prominent liberal Mohan Guruswamy praised Khare “for his integrity, forthrightness, analytic abilities and, simple and powerful prose.” Guruswamy was equally unambiguous about the identity of the villain: “In N.N. Vohra, the Modi regime has a person who can be counted to do its bidding. N.N. Vohra is from Delhi’s breed of the perennial darbaris. After the demise of Naresh Chandra last year, he must now be the dean of that elite and exclusive club.”
Look who is talking. Having begun with the Janata Party, then associating with the Jan Morcha and Janata Dal, this rolling stone of a social climber wormed his way to the office of adviser to the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha. But that proved to be brief because of Guruswamy’s untoward conduct; he was out in 1999. So, this is what Mohan Guruswamy is—a failed darbari masquerading as a radical.
The eulogizing, however, can’t kill a couple of facts. First, Khare is not the only journalist who has been critical of Modi. The Telegraph of Calcutta and several news channels, including the ones called bhakta channels, regularly do stories critical of the government. Arnab Goswami has trashed Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on several occasions. But one has to be a covenanted member of the Left-liberal establishment to qualify for beatification.
Second, Khare was appointed in June 2015—that is, when Modi was firmly in the saddle. That Khare was a quintessential intellectual was also a well-known fact. So, Had Modi been so fearful of the intrepid journalist, he would have got the very appointment aborted.
But then facts are no longer sacred, neither for liberals nor for saffronites; only opinions are hallowed, not to be trifled with. Opinions have to be shielded from the assault of facts. And myths have to be created in spite of facts.