THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE
- S Pal
THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE



Newspaper says it has verified, Majithia not involved in any drug trade

Tribune apologises for damaging reports against Majithia; Not a single other politician has such a strong clean chit issued by any newspaper in any context 

In a rather abject apology, displayed on its front page today with an unprecedented prominence, The Tribune newspaper admitted that certain news stories that it carried "with prominent headlines” and which had suggested "involvement of Bikram Singh Majithia…with an illegal drug syndicate” have been found to be completely false.
 

In an "unconditional apology,” that virtually gave the most pristine clean chit anyone in politics can ever get after facing serious allegations of heinous links, the Tribune not only said its reporting was not based on complete facts, or that there were loopholes in the story, but informed its readers that it has verified and found that Majithia was completely innocent.

Instead, the newspaper vouched for the utter innocence of Mr Majithia, and even claimed that it has verified that Majithia was not found "in any drug trade.”

 
 Also Read: TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions

 
"On verification, it was found that Bikram Singh Majithia was not involved in any drug trade,” The Tribune wrote in its apology published alongside a huge photograph of Majithia, the former Revenue Minister.

The newspaper said it was apologising for the news reports published "with prominent headlines” on "25.11.2014 and 11.03.2015,” but did not say exactly which reports was it talking about. The said days carried a number of reports that dealt with the issue. (Please see pictures).

The newspaper also said it "deeply regrets the damage caused to Majithia’s esteem and prestige, and the anguish caused to his family and well-wishers.”

"An unconditional apology is offered by The Tribune for the same,” the newspaper wrote, its drafting very typical of the newspaper’s English where reporters often use the passive voice for inexplicable reasons.
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"On verification, it was found that Bikram Singh Majithia was not involved in any drug trade,” The Tribune wrote in its apology published alongside a huge photograph of Majithia, the former Revenue Minister.
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The tone and tenor of the apology, coupled with the fact that the newspaper did not even publish it as an apology but as a very important news item spread across three columns on the front page with a huge photograph in a size mostly reserved for celebrity pictures on gossip pages, is likely to mark a rather peculiar milestone in the history of the newspaper. That the newspaper published the apology under the watch of a fiercely independent editor like Harish Khare has left many questions in its wake. 

Instead of titling it as an apology or a retraction or a clarification or even gulping pride and recanting its earlier news reports, The Tribune preferred to publish it as a news report, titled: "No evidence of involvement of Bikram Singh Majithia in Drug Racket: All allegations unsubstantiated and incorrect.”

(Readers wondering why the phrase ‘drug racket’ has been used with first letters in upper case should know that there is little to understand about how headline writers in Tribune improvise font styles.)

Surprisingly, the newspaper did not specify whether the apology was a result of a mid-night divine revelation about three year old news reports published by the newspaper, or was prompted by the progress of a court case that it is fighting regarding the same reports. Some senior journalists speculated if the recent meeting of the Tribune Trust had something to do with the apology, or whether the issue was discussed at all in this meeting.
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That the newspaper published the apology under the watch of a fiercely independent editor like Harish Khare has left many questions in its wake.
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Some speculated if the apology was a part of an out of court settlement.

Incidentally, The Tribune saw some of its most edgy and aggressive coverage, often heavily critical of the Badals and focussing on their business interests, during the time when Kanwar Sandhu was its executive editor. The news reports from 2014 and 2015 now in question were published under Sandhu’s watch. 

During Sandhu’s editorial tutelage, the newspaper had gone hammer and tongs looking into some questionable deals of the Akali leadership. Sandhu had left the newspaper in less than savoury circumstances, and went on to join the Aam Aadmi Party. He won the election as an MLA and is widely seen as one of the most articulate and cerebral faces in the party who remains heavily underutilised.
 


AN APOLOGY THAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE TOO POLITICAL

Armed with a certificate – issued by none other than the venerable The Tribune –that screams Topper of the Batch, Meritorious Student, Most Honest Student, Unduly Victimised But Emerged With Flying Colours and every other epithet that a politician can ever hope for, Bikram Singh Majithia can now go to town snubbing his critics and shoving the Tribune apology in the face of anyone pointing an accusing finger.

Political pundits said the biggest gainer from the Tribune’s front page abject apology may not be even Majithia himself but Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who can now roll up the Sunday’s edition of The Tribune and spank every single one of the 40 MLAs of his party, starting with Sukhjinder Randhawa, who have been publicly asking him to take action against the Akali leader. 
  
Amarinder has often faced embarrassment with the 40 MLAs writing a letter to him and then leaking it to the media. For weeks now, the CM has not had a press conference where he was not asked about the 40 MLAs collective demand.
 

With Navjot Singh Sidhu positioning himself as the easiest choice if the Congress high command ever planned to replace Amarinder Singh, the CM’s position hardly seemed envious. Just a couple of days ago, rebel with a cause Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and some other Majha MLAs had put up a public show, with Sidhu sharing the stage and projecting himself as someone ready to throw Majithia into jail, in the process painting CM as a man who is at the helm but not able to call the shots.
 
Also Read: DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU: This is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken

With The Tribune’s verification that all such allegations against Majithia were either a figment of the newspaper’s reporters or that its editorial decision making processes and built-in institutional safeguards to prevent hearsay from masquerading as news headlines on its pages had gone for a toss, the biggest loser in the saga may turn out to be Navjot Singh Sidhu whose entire pitch was hinged on the stance that Majithia had links with the drug trade and Amarinder was not taking action against him. 

Media pundits said while politicians can live with an occasional egg on the face, a masthead’s loss of credibility in such a high-profile case leaves a dent in reputation that can’t be filled up easily, not even with lame explanations over cups of espresso brewed in a bialetti cup, kept next to the blue pencil.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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