Headlines Today’s Unethical Journalism: Advocate Mukul Sinha

Mukul Sinha

Mukul Sinha
Eminent lawyer and civil rights activist. The post is taken from his recent facebook update.

I have been in communication with Mr Rahul Kanwal, the Managing Editor of Headlines Today, since June 17th 2004 and we have exchanged 3 emails and 2 phone calls since then. I first initiated contact with him by sending him an email on June 17th 2004 (Email 1, attached image). This was in regards to the televised show on Headlines Today on June 13th 2013 where Mr Rahul Kanwal and Mr Prabal Pratap Singh had claimed that they had exclusive access to certain recorded phone conversations which were allegedly between Javed, Salim and Muzammil (the LET Commander). Since I’m the lawyer of Javed Sheikh’s father, Mr Gopinath Pillai and my client is directly affected by the aforesaid revelations, I emailed Mr Rahul Kanwal in order to get access to the telephone call details including time, date, phone numbers of the parties involved in the recorded phone calls as well as the letter that was allegedly given to CBI Director by IB Director.

Mukul Sinha's letterSince I did not get a response for a few days, I sent him an email reminder (Email 2, attached image) on June 23rd 2004.

In response to my email reminder, Mr Rahul Kanwal called me on my cell phone a few days after the email reminder and stated apologetically that he was very busy covering Uttarakhand and was himself in Uttarakhand for sometime and hence could not respond to my first email. And thereafter he inquired as to what information I needed from him. In response, I told him that I wanted copies of the letter which he claimed to have access to and was sent by the IB Director to CBI Director. More importantly I wanted the time, date, duration, location and phone numbers of the recorded phone conversations that were played on Headlines today on June 13th 2004. Mr Rahul Kanwal responded to this by stating that my second query is legitimate, but so far as the first request to give the copy of the letter, he cannot since it will be unethical for a journalist to give the documents which had been given to him in confidence by some person, especially to the opposite party. In response, I stated that I respect his journalistic privilege and I don’t want the letter but I would like the information regarding the recorded conversation. To this he responded positively and assured me that he will find out the details that I wanted regarding the recorded conversation and send it to me.

Since I still hadn’t received any information by June 27th, I sent Mr Rahul Kanwal another reminder email (Email 3, attached image).

In response to that email he called me on my cell phone in the evening hours of June 28th and stated that he had spoken to his IB sources and that they were unwilling to part with the information I had requested and that IB would prove the authenticity of the recording in the court. I reacted to this by asking if that means that he played a conversation which he didn’t know when and how it was recorded and the details of the phone calls and that he did not care to verify even the authenticity of it.

To that he responded by saying that IB had given the tape to him, and hence he did not ask for any information and it is for the IB to prove the authenticity of the conversation. To that I responded by saying that I totally disagreed with his conjecture, since he doesn’t know and realize what damage he has caused to my client Mr Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh. That people in his village are talking about his son being a terrorist. To this he responded by saying that as a journalist he has to show whatever he gets and it is for the source to prove the authenticity of it. That was the end of the conversation.

I state that I found the attitude of Mr Rahul Kanwal as both shocking and irresponsible, since as the Managing Editor of Headlines today and the anchor of the program he occupies a very responsible position and his publication of such highly sensitive information are a matter of national security if the tapes are authentic, but if they aren’t authentic, it tantamounts to branding of an innocent as a terrorist. His act of playing these tapes on a national channel without as much as verifying the authenticity of it is a gross abuse of his position as well as against all journalistic norms and ethics. The purpose of my queries to Mr Kanwal were not only to verify the authenticity of the recorded tape but also to protect the character of a deceased person who has no means of defending himself in the eyes of his fellow people.

I further add that I also suspect that the recorded conversation is not authentic, but deliberately planted by the IB to profile Javed as a terrorist and justify the action of IB officer Rajinder Kumar in participating in the killing of Javed. The response of Mr Rahul Kanwal has only strengthened my suspicion and it appears that certain important persons in IB are trying to fabricate evidence to prove that Javed was a terrorist.

Mr Rahul Kanwal failed to do his research as an investigative journalist. He overlooked the fact that this same Mr Rajinder Kumar is involved in the encounter of my client, Sadiq Jamal where in he had given multiple false intelligence inputs to profile Sadik as a terrorist and kill him in a fake encounter. CBI through its chargesheet has already deemed this encounter to be fake.

Mr Rahul Kanwal has been used here as a tool to plant false evidence and brand my client Javed Sheikh as a terrorist. The fact that the Managing Editor of a national channel like Headlines Today can so easily be manipulated into broadcasting slanderous material is appalling.

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