ब्राडकास्ट एडिटर्स एसोसिएशन की तरफ से गठित सात सदस्यीय फैक्ट फाइंडिंग कमेटी के अध्यक्ष आज तक न्यूज चैनल के धीमंत पुरोहित हैं. टीम के अन्य सदस्य हैं- ब्रजेश कुमार सिंह स्टार न्यूज, निर्णय कपूर इंडिया टीवी, भार्गव पारीख जी न्यूज, राजीव पाठक एनडीटीवी इंडिया, अभिषेक कपूर टाइम्स नाऊ और जनक दवे आईबीएन7.
इस टीम के दो लोग अभिषेक कपूर और जनक दवे निजी कारणों के चलते जांच के काम में शिरकत नहीं कर सके. सात सदस्यीय जांच समिति ने अपनी रिपोर्ट में गुजरात के मेहसाणा जिले के ऊंझ में युवक के आत्मदाह के लिए जर्नलिस्टों पर उकसाने के आरोप को झूठा माना है. इसे पुलिस द्वारा अपनी खाल बचाने की साजिश करार दिया है. समिति की रिपोर्ट के बारे में आज दिल्ली के इंपीरियल होटल में पत्रकारों को विस्तार से जानकारी बीईए के पदाधिकारियों ने दी. हम यहां बीईए फैक्ट फाइंडिंग कमेटी की पूरी रिपोर्ट को प्रकाशित कर रहे हैं. -एडिटर, भड़ास4मीडिया
UNJHA – GUJARAT SELF IMMOLATION CASE : BROADCAST EDITORS’ ASSOCIATION’S FACT FINDING COMMITTEE REPORT, AHMEDABAD : AUGUST – 2010
01. Fact finding Committee appointed by BEA
02. Fact finding Team
03. Place visited
05. Media Persons involved
06. Dying Declaration
08. Investigation Process
09. Observations and Findings
Fact Finding Committee appointed by BEA
Taking serious view of the self immolation incident happened at Unjha, Mehsana in Gujarat on 13th August, 2010 and allegation of role of media persons, Broadcast Editors’ Association – BEA decided to form a fact finding committee to go into the details of the said incident and report the facts to BEA. BEA formed a team of Gujarat based senior TV journalists, headed by Gujarat Bureau Chief of AAJ TAK, Dhimant Purohit. As per BEA directive following team was formed.
Fact Finding Team
Dhimant Purohit (Aaj Tak)………….Head of the team.
Brajesh Kumar Singh (STAR News)….Member.
Nirnay Kapoor (India TV)……………Member.
Bhargav Parikh (Zee News)………….Member.
Rajiv Pathak (NDTV India)………….Member.
Abhishek Kapoor (Times Now)………Member.
Janak Dave (IBN7)……………………Member.
(Note: Abhishek Kapoor – Times Now and Janak Dave – IBN 7 did not participate into the whole proceeding due to their personal reasons.)
Places visited (As mutually decided by all the team members) on 25th August 2010
Unjha police station (where the incident took place)
Kamli village, Taluka- Unjha, District- Mehsana (the native village of the deceased, his relatives still stay there)
Mehsana District Court – where the relatives of victim were present to seek legal recourse.
SP office, Mehsana
Gujarat News office in Ahmedabad
TV9 office in Ahmedabad
On 13th of August, at around 1:30 pm Kalpesh Mistry – a 29-year-old youth immolated himself inside the police station campus of Unjha police station in Mehsana district of Gujarat. Same evening at 4:20 pm the person died. Two days later on 15th august, a FIR was filed in the Unjha police station alleging that two media persons instigated a person to commit suicide and the media persons were charged with abetment.
Media Persons involved
Kamlesh Rawal, Reporter (staffer) TV9, Mehsana (Treated as accused in the FIR)
Mayur Rawal, Stringer, Gujarat News a 24-hour cable news channel (news channel of GTPL cable networks) (Treated as accused in the FIR)
Chandresh Patel, local (Unjha based) reporter of a regional newspaper Sandesh. (Not treated as accused in the FIR but being considered to be as witness so far)
Bhaskar Patel, reporter (Unjha based) of a regional newspaper Sandesh. (Not treated as accused in the FIR)
Dying declaration recorded on 13th August, 2010.
DD is given before the Executive magistrate of Mehsana by Kalpesh Mistry in more than 90% burnt condition. He died just 10 minutes after his declaration got recorded. It says he is victimized by his step mother and Unjha police who arrested him on 12th August 2010 on the basis of a complaint filed by his step mother Chandrika ben. He got released on bail and took this extreme step on 13th afternoon as he got distressed by the attitude of police. There is no reason other than this.
FIR filed on 15th August, 2010
FIR is filed by one tea-vendor Bhuraji Thakore, who caters to the needs of the police station officials for last 15 years. This includes making tea and serving them water, and cleaning the police station. Even his tea shop is in a corner of the police station campus.
The gist: The accused persons wanted to show visuals of burning person in their television channels and to execute that they instigated the deceased person to pour kerosene on himself and try to enact immolation.
Around 1 pm the two local media persons from Mehsana city reached the Unjha police station, around 30 kms from Mehsana, in their car and they were carrying their cameras and sat inside the campus of the police station. Chandresh, a local reporter, Unjha based, of a regional newspaper Sandesh reached there on his motorbike and met them. The media persons wanted to take the visuals of a person setting himself blaze.
Around 1:30 pm the deceased came on a motorbike with his uncle and he was carrying a stove and a bottle filled with kerosene. As soon as he reached, he poured kerosene on himself and lit a flame on the bottom of his pants. But the fire could not be controlled and the man burnt severely despite the tea vendor and some policemen trying to save him. The allegation on the media person is that they just kept on shooting the whole episode of self immolation without taking any measure to save the life of Kalpesh Mistry. It is further alleged in the FIR that the TV reporters knew well in advance that such an incident was going to take place. Also it is further alleged that they (the reporters) had instigated that man to enact the drama of self immolation but the fire could not be controlled and eventually it resulted into the death of the person.
Investigation process of fact finding team constituted by BEA:
The team visited the scene of offence at Unjha at 9.00am in the morning, did Spot analysis and reconstructed the crime scene with the help of complainant & eyewitness Bhuraji and the staff of police station (including Police Inspector).
Interviewed Bhuraji, PI. T K Patel & Shanta ben (lady constable).
Team members also visited the Kamli village (native of Kalpesh Mistry). From there they came to know that victim’s relative might have gone to court.
Met the relatives of Kalpesh Mistry and took their version also, including Mansukh bhai Mistry, the partially blind uncle of Kalpesh who was present with him at the Unjha police station at the time of offence.
The team members also met the SP of Mehsana Mr. R J Savani at police headquarters to record his official version, progress by police so far in the case.
At 7.30 pm in the evening team members, after returning to Ahmedabad, visited GTPL’s head office and met its channel head Mr. Padmkant Trivedi & took the channel’s version.
Same exercise was repeated for TV-9 where its channel head Kalpak Kekde had briefed the team members about the stand their channel has taken during the whole episode.
The team members also got the opportunity to interact with accused tv-9 reporter Kamlesh Raval on phone. Kamlesh is still in hiding and has filed quashing petition in the Gujarat High Court.
Observations & Findings:
It is our considered opinion that there are not substantial evidences to conclude that the accused media persons had either conspired or incited the deceased to immolate himself. Even the investigating agency has no where mentioned during the course of discussion that their investigation till now reveals anything in this regard.
The mobile phone calls record available with police doesn’t establish that the accused media persons and the victim were in touch since long time. The very first telephonic conversation between them took place an hour and half before the incident took place. In all, they have talked just three times before the actual incident.
Their guilt/offence is only the concealment of the fact that the deceased was seriously planning to do some illegal act including self immolation. They did not report the same to the police authorities.
It is also observed that both the reporters have not even informed their assignment desk nor taken any prior permission for the shoot. It may be noted here that they had enough time to communicate with their head offices.
On the part of media persons, it was also unethical to shoot the process, instead of saving the victim.
Role of police is also suspicious. There are certain contradictions between acknowledgement of the offence, dying declaration, accidental death report and the FIR.
The role of local reporter also needs to be thoughroly examined as he was also present at the scene of crime with the accused and informed police about the incident only after the victim self immolated and the fire went out of control. He is neither made an accused nor witness till date. Even he or his superior was not available before the fact finding team for comments.
It is also revealed during our investigation that filing of the FIR through Tea Vendor Bhuraji Thakore was a well thoughtout decision, taken by senior district police officers. It is confirmed by Bhuraji as well as senior police officers. This puts a big question mark on the intentions of police, more so when the acknowledgement of offence is filed by the police head constable who tried to save the life of the deceased.
The ulterior motive of complainant is conspicuous by the very fact that his livelihood is solely dependent on the police station and its personnel. Looking at the demographic and geographical profile of the police station area, it is very clear and admitted by Bhuraji that he sells tea exclusively to the police personnel and visitors. Even he and his family members are directly serving the police station on casual basis. It shows that his association with the police personnel working here is more than serving tea in many ways.
The credibility of Bhuraji’s FIR is under lots of doubts as it is observed by the fact finding team that he is tutored & has narrated the act of crime on somebody’s behest. For eg; Bhuraji in his complaint says that he saw the deceased person pouring liquid on his body & the accused media persons were taking his shots, while he was filling water in coolers kept left side of the police station. The fact finding team has reconstructed & personally tried to find out the visibility of the scene of crime from the said location and it observed that nothing can be seen from the spot mentioned by Bhuraji..
The contradiction in FIR is also evident when it is read with dying declaration, where it is clearly mentioned that the act of self immolation was the result of Kalpesh’s family feud and a police complaint against him thereafter. As per point no. 10 of is DD it is well mentioned that “a dispute related to distribution of house rent with my step mother has resulted into a police complaint at Unjha police station. This incident has disturbed me so much so that I’ve put kerosene on my body & immolated myself. There is no other reason except this”. Even the DGP of Gujarat has ordered the Gandhinagar range IG to look into the discrepancies in the dying declaration & the FIR.
It is also pointed out by the relatives of the deceased that at the time of dying declaration, police officers of the concerned police station were present with the executive magistrate.
It is also observed by the team that all the three parties i.e. police, family of deceased and concerned media persons and their organizations are not forthcoming with all the facts and not transparent on this issue.
Overall it is felt that the dispute between victim Kalpesh with his step mother Chandrika ben & Unjha police is quite old and the alleged police atrocities faced by Kalpesh Mistry also can’t be ruled out. Kalpesh wanted to highlight the injustice done to him & he might have wanted to use media to create pressure on authorities. He thus called one of the accused media persons on that fateful day; even his intentions did not seem to kill himself (his activities prior to the act of self immolation mentioned in the police records). It seems the callousness on the part of reporters and the victim aggravated the situation which resulted into this unfortunate incident.
It should be made mandatory for the media persons to inform police as soon as they come to know of any such act which is a serious offence in the eyes of law.
It should also be made mandatory for the field reporters to inform their head quarter prior to the coverage of any such happening and take proper guidance.
It should be decided at the policy level of the news channels that images of burning of any person in immolation incident will not be shown on television so the question of shooting such kind of sequences does not arise at all.
It is felt that regular training session (at least once in a year) of the stringers, reporters & camera persons should be held at the bureau level, in the presences of senior editorial heads. This will make them sensitive enough towards their role and responsibility and the policies of channels.
Measures should be taken to sensitize media as a whole that human life is more important than any of the stories.
Dhimant Purohit (Aaj Tak) Head of the team
Brajesh Kumar Singh (Star News) Member
Nirnay Kapoor (India TV) Member
Bhargav Parikh (Zee News) Member
Rajiv Pathak (NDTV India) Member
Ahmedabad, 27th August, 2010
1. Chronology of events as per police records.
2. Acknowledgement of Offence filed by Unjha police.
3. Dying declaration of the victim Kalpesh Mistry.
4. Accidental death report.
5. Copy of FIR.
6. Affidavit by victim’s uncle Dasharath bhai Suthar.
7. Representation of victim’s Uncle Govind Bhai Suthar to Mehsana SP.
8. Map of crime scene provided by Unjha police.
9. tv-9’s official statement.