Shoma Chaudhary’s Sudden Removal: Is The RSS Gagging CatchNews?

Courtesy: Media Vigil

The Editor-in-Chief of news website, Shoma Chaudhury , was denied an audience with the editorial staff today after she was asked to resign by the management on Saturday. In an unprecedented development, Ms. Chaudhary was asked to report at Jaipur headquarters on February 27th and told that, “since Catch has now been successfully created and stabilized”, Patrika no longer wants to keep her on as its editor-in-chief. She was asked to stop coming to work from Monday, 29 February.

After returning from Jaipur, she announced her resignation in an internal mail to her staff on Monday. Her resignation has been published on many websites. She has termed this decision as “real injustice” and said that she would be addressing the staff at 4 p.m. on Monday. When the staff of Hindi as well as English Catch reached Delhi’s Qutub Institutional area office around this time, they were informed thatthe meeting is cancelled because Shoma has been denied.

Gulab Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika with the RSS Chief
Gulab Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika with the RSS Chief

Rumours are abound about the real reasons behind her resignation but the news trending on twitter with hastag #CatchNews suggest some sort of political pressure. A senior journalist who ha worked with Patrika group responded: “When this website was launched, I had told some friends that that Patrika group could not continue with this for long and we should wait for a year to see what happens. The fall has begun”.

Journalists close to Patrika management are of the opinion that the group although criticises Vasundhara government in the state, it cannot go beyond that to take position against RSS. Catch News has consistently reported against BJP and RSS in the JNU row. Shoma’s fate linked to this cannot be denied.

Apart, the cozy relation between Patrika group’s chief Gulab Kothari and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is not a secret. It must be recalled that the controversial statement about review of reservation policy given by Mohan Bhagwat in the midst of Bihar elections was a result of long deliberation with Gulab Kothari on the issue after which the duo had released a joint statement also that was prominently published in Rajasthan Patrika in provocative language. Many organisations had expressed their displeasure at this statement. A three day program was organised by Patrika group in Delhi few days back ahere eminent members of Sangh parivar were present.
Below is the full text of Shoma Chaudhury’s mail to Catch staff:

Dear All,

It’s seven months since we started Catch and I’m very proud of the media platform we’ve collectively created. One of the greatest pleasures of this time has been to work with a wonderful, young, high-calibre team like you. A lot has been achieved. Yet, we’re only at the beginning of what I’d hoped would be a very fulfilling journey together.
The adrenalin of creating Catch was to push the boundaries; find ways to marry old values of journalism with new modes of story-telling; break the usual silos. There are so many ideas still waiting to be set into motion; stands to be taken; stories to be done.

However, I’m writing to tell you with great regret, it seems I will no longer be able to lead the team or share that journey with you.
In a completely unexpected development, on 27 February, I was called to Jaipur by the director of finance and told that, since Catch has now been successfully created and stabilized, Patrika no longer wants to keep me on as its editor-in-chief. I was asked to stop coming to work from Monday, 29 February.

To say I am stunned by this arbitrary behavior would be an understatement. Catch was not a functioning institution I walked into: it is something I helped create from scratch. To be abruptly divorced from it like this seems a real injustice, to say the least.

Financially, Catch belongs to Patrika. Terminating a contract is their prerogative. However, I would like to address the team at 4 pm today.

Despite the usual ups and downs of proprietor-editor dynamics, I’ve had very cordial dealings with Patrika, Siddharth, Nihar and their families and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to create something I’m proud of. I am, therefore, doubly saddened and shocked by this.

You’ve been an energizing, inspiring, livewire team to work with. You have incredible potential. I sincerely hope Patrika will back that all the way.

I know this will come as a shock to all of you. As it has been for me. I wish it was otherwise.


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