Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) tweeted at 3:28 PM on Tue, Jun 28, 2022:
For everyone talking of #KetakiChitale here’s my interview with her @themojostory outright condemning what happened with her; now Will you condemn the arrest of #Zubair or find more ifs and buts ? Tragically many of them from within news media.
It is perhaps a necessary characteristic of being a senior member of the Khan Market Gang is to think only in terms of transaction. I will do this, if you do this. No need to look at the issues from the merit point of view. And actually think that one is being very, very clever.
Ketaki Chitale was jailed for a WhatsApp post that was deemed to be against Sharad Pawar, a supposed senior politician in Maharashtra. And she was in jail for more than forty days before Dutt suddenly realised that she was in jail for no reason at all. And the realisation came only on the basis of a member of her Gang was jailed for a tweet that was very disrespectful to a Hindu god (not a politician).
It is very clear that Ketakiji would have been no concern for Dutt, as was the situation for the forty days of the former’s incarceration, had action was not taken against her Gang member.
Tragedy is that such transactional Gang members become interlocutors for so many who wish to genuinely understand what is happening in India. The tragedy for the Gang members is that they no longer have a clear field to undertake their agenda, given the advent of social media which has democratised discussion.
So my answer to Dutt is: I do not see the equivalence of the two cases. Ketakiji has forwarded a post whose messages I relate to, and it is well within the realm of free speech. Her Gang member has abused a Hindu god, Hanuman in his case, and hence I will not condemn his arrest.
About the author: Ashok Chowgule is Vice President at Vishwa Hindu Parishad.