Disdain for media has spread to the villages: Ex-ABP News scribe who quit in protest

08 April 2021
Shahid Tantray for The Caravan
Shahid Tantray for The Caravan

On 27 February, Rakshit Singh, a senior reporter with ABP News, gave his resignation from the channel in a dramatic announcement from the stage of a mahapanchayat. The mahapanchayat, being held in Bhausa village in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district, was part of the ongoing gatherings across north India in support of the farmers’ protests. Singh, who had gone to cover the protests, ended up becoming the story himself, as a video of his speech went viral. In the video, Singh says, “My parents spent their hard earned money to educate me, and I chose this profession … Because I wanted to show the truth.” He said that the channel did not want him “to show the truth,” and that he had been asked to show that the number of people at the mahapanchayat were far lesser than the actual attendance. The channel denied his allegations in a subsequent statement.

In late March, The Caravan’s Sunil Kashyap, a reporting fellow, and Shahid Tantray, a multimedia reporter, spoke to Singh about his reasons for quitting. Singh said that the overall media environment in the country had been vitiated by the actions of a few media houses who “have an agenda.” An edited excerpt from the conversation is reproduced below.

I started working as a journalist around fifteen years ago—first with a newspaper in Dehradun, and then I worked for a year with a newspaper of the Rajasthan Patrika. I also worked with News Today. My graduation degree was Bachelors of Commerce, so I reported on business. After about a year there, the Dainik Bhaskar group launched a business newspaper, Business Bhaskar. I joined that and reported for them for five years. I covered the telecommunications and automobiles beat there, and continued to cover business and economy news. After that, I worked in a news channel, and there also my focus was primarily on business news. I covered Uttar Pradesh for around two years. I even covered the assembly elections of some states. I was a special correspondent.

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    Sunil Kashyap is an independent journalist. He was formerly a reporting fellow at The Caravan.

    Shahid Tantray is a multimedia reporter at The Caravan. He tweets at @shahidtantray

    Keywords: Farmers' Protest