Vohra’s Version

NDTV journalist Anchal Vohra responds to India Resists’ “critique” of her report on Niyamgiri.

WrittenBy:Anchal Vohra
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On September 3, 2013, a blog entry called the “Untold story of NDTV’s Niyamgiri Special” appeared on India Resists.

For several days since, I have been trying to get a response published on the same platform which levelled allegations against me and my report. I have not yet received any response from the website. But I did from Newslaundry.

The author of the above mentioned blog or “critique” is Abhishek Srivastav. Given below is the effusive mail I received from Abhishek Srivastav, a few days before his piece appeared. We had met in Niyamgiri on August 18, 2013 where I was reporting on the gram sabhas for NDTV 24×7. He introduced himself to me as a photographer.

Subject: Your awesome pics with Dongrias in Jarpa

From: Abhishek Srivastava

Sent: Sunday, August 25, 2013 9:39 AM

To: Anchal Vohra

Subject: Your awesome pics with Dongrias in Jarpa

Hi Anchal,


Here are your pics that I clicked in Jarpa. I was busy writing reports after returning to Delhi so could not send earlier.

There is a reportage today in Prabhat Khabar (http://prabhatkhabar.com/news/37895-story.html) on Jarpa hearing. Take time

to read. You may also appreciate a piece on Jansatta’s edit page that will be published tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I came across your twitter handle and was glad to know that you interviewed Sabyasachi Panda too. I am writing two different coverstories [sic] on this trip. If you could mail me the interview excerpts, I may use some relevant quotes (courtesy you/NDTV, as you suggest) in that. If you have filed the interview, you may send in the text otherwise telecasted video will also suffice.

Waiting for reply.


Abhishek Srivastava

Abhishek Srivastav also sent me a Facebook friend request. Caught up at work I failed to thank him for his pictures, nor did I accept the Facebook friend request. Eight days later I found myself at the receiving end of a vicious attack from him, on both the personal and professional front. I was transformed from being “awesome” to a “heftly paid byte collector” with “superficial compassion and in built hatred for poor indigenous people”.

It was baffling. One minute Mr Srivastav wants me to go through his work and is keen to use my work for his report and the next minute he brands me unethical. And then he wants to befriend an unethical “madam”.

When I first saw his offensive blog I decided not to react. I did not want to get into a back-and-forth exchange of You said-I said. But since then I have been repeatedly asked why I am letting Mr Srivastav’s view go unquestioned or unchallenged. Also, the online world demands that balance. If he has been given the space for his views, mine too must be stated.

I wonder if all those who are commenting on his blog have seen my report. I urge all of you to please watch it.

The charges in the blog are as follows:

My pronunciation of Odisha. Guilty as charged. My Punjabi-ness compromises my pronunciation of several words in several languages, including English.

Were there ten or eleven huts? I said ten, he says 11.

I was accused of not eating with our tribal hosts. That I was served merely for the camera and off camera I ate biscuits. As a matter of fact I did eat with the tribal community. The biscuits were shared earlier in the evening with all present, including Mr Srivastav.

I was booed by the tribals. As the “critique” claims, I wasn’t booed by the tribals. The NDTV team filmed everyone from a distance and didn’t enter a single hut. In the report there is not a single shot taken from inside a hut. In the show I can be seen having a light-hearted chat with a Dongria girl. An adivasi boy, Badrinath, calls me every four days to have a chat. If they found my behaviour so abhorrent, as suggested by Mr Srivastav, why would they keep in touch?

Mr Srivatsava suggests I had some sort of shady gang with me who are referred to as my “men on prowl”. They were my cameraman and assistant, which is normally the crew that accompanies a TV reporter since video reports require a camera, sound, batteries etc.

The “critique” claims the report says, “the adivasis greeted us with a Lal Salaam”. The adivasis greeted the Communist activists present with a Lal Salaam, not us. That too is clear in the report.

That I requested for a bonfire to be light. Yes, I requested for the bonfire to be lit. I did so because of the lack of any light. In situations when power isn’t available, we are taught to create light through natural sources. The adivasis were practising and were filmed by all including the author of the blog.

I am neither an activist nor a PR agent. I am a reporter and report what I see on the ground. As a journalist it is important for me to share these details.

You can judge the story, comment on it and expect me to write back. As far as the India Resists blog is concerned, this is all I have to say.

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