For award-winning journalism, for exposing the truth, for standing up for the idea of India, NDTV's Ravish Kumar gets death threats. His family threatened with violence. At a time when the debate around intolerance and the threat to free speech is peaking, a special look at what journalists must risk to do their jobs everyday.
Here is the transcript of the video:
Vishnu Som: When did the death threats start coming?
Ravish Kumar: This incident took place between April 25-26, I had not been going to office. Suddenly, I started getting thousands of calls on my phone. When I used to block one number, I got calls from another and the kind of language used by all of them was derogatory. All of them seemed to have been inspired by a peculiar kind of ideology and they were so motivated by it that they were openly making such poisonous and daring statements and death threats. I couldn't record all the calls because I have an iPhone. Once we set up everything, you could see how that Bajrang Dal person was talking. They were talking as if they would just hit you, they kept abusing for 15-20 minutes. Vishnu, I used to think that I should not pay attention to these things. I don't and I don't care but it is important for the audience to know that this is an organized thing and there is no doubt in that. There is a news channel called Kashish News in Patna, an employee named Mr Santosh had investigated the concept there. He found out that over 80 Hindu organisations, cow protection organizations, Sanatan organisations had recently come up. Some of the members have been made into district incharges. These people are not anonymous trolls. We have to understand that these people have been given certain positions in different districts and you can't ignore this. The way they are talking, they can gather anywhere as a mob around you.
Vishnu Som: And they sent you WhatsApp messages identifying themselves
Ravish Kumar: Knowing this can be used as a legal proof, they are sending these kinds of videos. Where are they getting the courage from? This never used to happen earlier. We have done stories earlier too and we will do them in the future, we will do them after today and today night as well. The minsters who are doing push-ups, will tell them what happens when you do push-ups and not work.
Vishnu Som: What has the police told you... you filed an FIR. Is it possible for the police to track all these people?
Ravish Kumar: First when I had gone to the police, they did not do anything. This time they were receptive and said they would assess the incident. They turned my complaint into an FIR and told me that they would do a security assessment. But my security is not as important as the fact that the by-product that has developed from the political culture is still not being taken seriously.
They are thinking it's an individual issue but it's been instigating violence, creating mobs in various cities, beating people up. The female journalist would know better what is happening with her. The males have not been spared from their clutches. They all have funding; they all have weapons and ammunitions. They are playing a dual role. They take out processions carrying swords during Ram Navami and they also call you and say such things. How have I, in anyway, done anything to Hinduism.
Vishnu Som: Vikas Singh, come in at this stage. The threats he faces are not 1 or 2, there are literally hundreds of threats.
Ravish Kumar: Thousands...
Vishnu Som: There are thousands of threats over a period of years in fact.
Ravish Kumar: For the past ten days Vishnu, if you get calls 24 hours a day even after blocking. When you cannot even type a message...this is a new scale of launching attacks, that you take someone's number and keep calling them at 2 o'clock in the night, at quarter to 4 in the night.