Diwali happenings

ya its been a month since i’ve written. A lot has happened in this last month.

Finally Khwaja Yunus’s mother can see a ray of hope. Its a pathetic story of a young Muslim youth who was an IT engr who had come down to Parbhani to get married. Instead of getting married, he was rounded up the police. They called him on his cell & said he was reqd for investigations, he was at a picnic & asked the police to come halfway so that their time would be saved. I’m yet to come across a ‘terrorist’ who wld go out of his way to help the police! & police called Khwaja terrorist.

having said this..Khwaja was then rounded up taken by police to Mumbai on the pretext that he planted the bomb in BEST bus Ghatkopar. All the others including Dr Mateen, a forenscic expert were put in lock-up. They were termed ‘terrorists.’

During the interrogation Khwaja was beaten…he was a lean boy, so he cldn’t take beatings beyond a point. He died & succumbed to the torture meted out to him.

Dr Mateen saw this. Meanwhile police picked his body & took it to Uran..an island off Mumbai. There they have allegedly burnt his body. Khwaja’s parents launched search for him & filed a petition in court, demanding that Khwaja be brought to them dead or alive!

The police meanwhile drew up action-filled bollywood ishtyle drama of Khwaja escaping…the investigating officer Sachin Vaze, made up this plan saying that Khwaja was handcuffed, the car taking him via Parner -archiac road that NO one travels on today to go to Aurangabad. They say he ran away with Police station log book when he was handcuffed! and their story goes on…

However much to the dismay of the Ghatkopar police, Dr Mateen spilled the beans in court. He said he saw Khwaja was beaten & he vomitted blood & thereafter he died in a day. Dr Mateen was the only one to say Khwaja died of torture.

The Mumbai police had litle to lose had they to say Khwaja was lean & could not take the ivnestigations, max 2-3 policemen would’ve faced suspension, but more importantly they would’ve saved some shame & name! Today 14 policemen have been arrested in this case & 29 are alleged to b involved in this crime.

The sessions court also held a fantastic encounter specialist Praful Bhosale guilty. In this case I can say he was made scape goat by his seniors. A genuinely nice officer, but the rest have escaped & are now being asked to get out of Mumbai by the court. Till now the home dept & police have protected the errant policemen.

However the involvement of police became one political issue. Sad but true the whole force has been used by politicians. Today Bhosale’s out of the force i really wonder how much Shiv Sena & Narayan Rane’s helped him. They staged demostrations..but Bhosale was found guilty wt 3 others. If Khwaja would have been some Dayanand & say the policemen were either Dalits or Muslims, would anyone fm any party have supported these police? Then patriotic & nationalist pride & spirit is all 4gotten.

Khwaja’s paretns meanwhile fought hard to clear his name. The villagers in Parbhani out casted them or avoided them. Soon as the turth began unfolding they were re-accepted. The family lives in poverty & their well-earning son has been killed.

The family was promised Rs 5000 till Khwaja’s death is known but what’s unknown is that they have not been given this money till now. Khwaja’s father also died a broken man. He fought hard to save his son’s name & give him a respectful last rites, but has been deprived of it. Now Hashiya Begum too is trying.

Meanwhile a very senior IPS officer said that the Mumbai police want the Yunus’s family to take back the case. The police approached Abu Azmi-yes i know he’s a politician that most luv to hate- but he has stood by Yunus’s family. He got them to agree, police were going to pay a crore, yes. But then the police tried a dirty trick they said they will give money ONLY on condition that Hashiya begum says she received a call fm Khwaja!!!!

so now finally court has begun ordering the govt & police chief to take action, else the transfer of Pradeep Sharma? Khwaja’s mother says this eid is just lil different because at least some small steps towards justice are being taken. However she strongly believes that the day her son’s killers are arrested, it will be real eid for the family!

Horsey sounding tvwalas

Is it that i’ve become intolerant-wc i just love if it sounds so-or rather the truth is that ALL TV anchors & reporters look alike & sound horsily LOUD!! they’re like shouting into ur face…outshouting each other, huge frowns on their faces, as if the world has fallen & they are THE only ones to witness it. On top of it they are THE ones NOT informing u, but TELLING it to you the way they WANT it to be…

The truth is that if Barkha breaks news on one channels-YES with that frown, u have rajdeep do the same, Ashuto-o-osh on another, some bhaiya on Aaj Tak (definitely NOT punya prasoon), Dibang on another & someone on star. If a person hears them all on various screens they sound the same-SHOUTING/BELLOWING wt their lungs bursting out…Hands vigorously moving around in air & ofcourse the famous BLINKING…& at the end u wonder if anyone has given u the REAL information…What’s with Indian TV & shouting? they all also look alike…Its NOT a joke…bcoz their expressions are the same.

But why are they telling us? I thot TV is informing thru’ visuals, showing pictures & frames that speak LOUDER than their voices & words! But sadly the focus instead of visuals is the loud sounding ‘reporter.’

The channels have to grow out of cutting live chats wt their reporters all the while. This ideally should happen if the reporter is on the way, they are yet covering/shooting the incident & meanwhile, the channels cut live to their journos or take phone-ins. NOT constantly cut to their reporters…

Journalist's tales…..

when i joined journalism i had absolutely insane, cynical & rude (mildly put) seniors who imbibed a certain spirit in us, made us sit up & think abt our profession, that we MUST have a certain discipline, passion & COMMITMENT -altho’ many among them did NOT possess it is another issue…

We were put through gruelling times & believe me it was UNFAIR…seniors who ridiculed our ideas but passed them onto someone else in a jiffy! Seniors who rubbished our ideas & few months later we’d see someone else’s by line to the same story suggested!! worse still seniors who said our stories were worth trashing & would carry the same day wt their own bylines!! Yet, these very seniors taught us a lot thru’ their example & otherwise.

Some rare good ones were confident of themselves, tore our copies and made us re-write in simple conversational language…made us unlearn all that we’d learnt. Some even led by example. We could discuss the world wt them without having to fear ridicule. They taught us to produce a ‘dhasu’ story! They helped us smell news that’s likely to become BIG….

Even today if there’s anything that makes me smile sincerely, is when i get a dhasu story, covered wt the same amount of passion that I had began my career with. Today i’m a dinosaur!!! Old & forgotten species..Yes in the day new era of news people like me are nearly forgotten.

Today-spare me if a sound like an old Parsi aunty-(wc i’m proud if i do sound), MOST news organisations are hiring young, just-out-of-college kids, anorexic, who wear minimal clothes wt shakal but NOT necessarily akkal. Many who are abso immature & to top all they are in journalism for MONEY & QUICK FAME…what quality of news are we going to expect? They are asked to bring bytes & stories are made like desk-top pieces in the studios.

There was a sonic boom- a ball of fire wt a loud sound- airforce exercise wc was to take place across the seas but mistakenly was conducted across the residential areas of Karjat in October 2oo4. News telecasted- one channel said a Plane crashed & later at least apologised. A leading Hindi news channel said one plane crashed into three pieces but NO clue of the passengers. The sabse tez said they sighted an UFO!! Yes…then for 3 days the channels forgot all abt this news. No astronaut, scientist or minister saying anything. It was later confirmed that it was a sonic boom!

One more black day was when the Mah CM was to be declared, the news reporters fm channels were in their rush to get exclusive news first. so they prepared the son-in-law of the former CM (now central power min) as their main source!! I was moving b/w the State assembly, Cong & NCP office. By afternoon i was informed by my friends in Cong & NCP that Vilasrao had signatures of 47 MLAs & he had staked claim to become the CM else he would cause rebellion.

It was the BLACKEST day for TV news. Sabse tez went abt giving detailed report & live phone-ins abt how Sushilkumar Shinde had become the CM…i was in NCP when my friend fm Star news called & asked how come my favourite bet had lost the chance …I told him he had wrong info. NDTV ran similar news but thks to Rajdeep he pulled up the local bureau head (famous crime reporter) & they actually apologised. He ridiculed that their source was son-in-law of shinde since he proved to be very stupid & dumb! pranab mukherjee had filled in rajdeep wt all the details….. others forgot all about apologising.

Recently again sab se tez declared that the living deputy chairman of state legislative council had died-vasant davkhare-when the person who died was NCP min vasant chavan.

More recently when Mahajan was shot by his brother channels ran a breaking news that he moved his eyes & fingers!!

Sadly whatever may b the case I don’t hear many complaining….

blast from past

the July 11, 2006 blasts in Mumbai surely rocked the city…whatever anyone may say….damn all those ‘spirit of Mumbai’ ball talks…people have NO goddamn choice but to go for work. We work for shit organisations where bosses are complete arse holes whether govt, NGO or otherwise…anyone person says they can’t make it either they cut half day or full day pay. this is the fate of a normal working class person in our city.

As for us journalists forget…we are breed that sucks!! we want to milk the cow but in such a shoddy manner that the cow gets bored and either dies or just sleeps halfway. Most of the channels went on about the helping hand…wc was true..but NO ONE showed or spoke of how the dead were not spared by the public. The late hockey player who died was fleeced by the very public that tried to save the victims!!

His gold chain, credit card, money??? we don’t even leave the dead alone, why blame Mahesh Bhatt, at least he’s pulling out the skeletons fm his own closet.

As for the investigations?? so much left said the better. Within two hours (thanks to the pressure fm Media & public) trains resumed. London metro was closed for 10 days. I agree we can’t afford to close down all our lines. But that part of track should have been cordone off for 10 days. No trace we have…

Later people who were with SIMI, some active some former were picked up left right & centre. thousands have been rounded off & taken to jail…illegally detained. Some beaten & abused. Even siblings of the arrested were NOT spared…i can vouch that in one family there are black sheep & often the relatives need not know what the trouble maker has been upto. Sometimes they may be aware but have distanced themselves…its possible & very normal…

May be the ivnestigating officers are from some other planet or world..who believe the alleged offender’s family is equally responsible!!

who are the REAL culprits?? What is their Main crime?? does the ATS know? we wonder. Worse still are the immature abso ridiculous journos who have been writing & showing…8 days & ATS has had NO breakthrough…10 days & no arrests still???? what is this a merry circus?

Do these journalists realise a terror attack may take years or NEVER to get to the root of this whole act/crime? How nonsensical is this pressure campaign?? Do the editors who are supposed to be seasoned journos even ask their reporters to file such stories? in fact these silly editors should be pulling up their reporters for reporting so immaturedly…

But when u hire novices and don’t train them this is what one should expect.

Bar bar…

there’s so much that has been said about the dancing bars that i may just break into a dance myself! The home minister RR Patil thinks from his heart plus he’s a good & simple man at heart…he may NOT have realised nor was he prepared for the outcome…since his very own colleagues were out to sink him on this issue!

At least one point is proved – that aba is a non-corrupt man..but then again it just should teach all a lesson that a good, simple & honest politician has little place & success in the world! The number of politicans & police who have stakes in bars is unthinkable. Especially the police. We know of stories of many journos who have gone to police stations & have been later escorted to get a peek-a-boo- with ‘free’ entry & drink couple of pegs (yes-yes free) at these bars where a plain cola costs Rs 350!! All thanks to the police.

Then ofcorz there are haftas, every night ka bandobast hota tha kya bhidu? besides some were also partners in sharing the bar profits…that’s life we may say, but obviously as a result these bars thrived. This was the main reason for aba to bring a ban on them. Did u also observe those who wrote the most of how bar dancers would be rendered helpless & how their closure would affect the society, are just some of journos who too have taken immense help, favours & even shared profits from the dance bar owners!

That’s to say about reporting on the human persepective!! So much diversity say wot?

Also i do NOT buy the common story across all bars & said about all chamiyas that they all come from extreme poverty & have six-seven mouths to feed. Well if all of us who have dependants & i include myself then just count…urself, parents, some have in-laws, babies…so shouldn’t we also get that ‘extra’ tip or money??? NOT all are dancing due to compulsions. Not all came to chamiya bars to rough it out…sorry over 65% have made it big..where r all the Trannums, antop hill dancers who lived in the first high rises wt toyotas & hondas…we need to take a real look.

But then all these arguments would have held good early on in life, when the bars first began that time certain norms could’ve been applied. Basic labour laws could’ve been used-like ensuring the dancers get minimum wages, stupulated work hours (even from 7.00 pm-4.00am) creches for their babies, no touching the dancers, etc…then automatically the bars would’ve seen their dear end…

but that’s all for intellectual debates, this all hardly holds good in real life.

Let’s see if the bars ever open…my sources say the police will delay in giving licenses..meanwhile the Maharashtra law dept will amend the law & they will approach the Supreme Court…

cheers! neeta

Now Chowpatty is next

What’s with our city’s rich & their obsession to have further luxuries at the cost of Mumbai city’s future?? As if the Peddar road controversy wasn’t enough, now we have few more celebs objecting to the connecting Chowpatty flyover. Have they all bothered to speak to residents at Sion & JJ flyover?? These richie richies should just speak & find out how smooth the traffic is & how they are living a better life & breathing cleaner air!

Can we become lot more responsible citizens?? Aren’t protestors the same people who have at least one car at their homes? Will they pl stop using their cars? If this plea sounds innane & impossible, same is the case with their objection wc is totally selfish!!

It is time the rich, educated & well connected Mumbaikars realise that this city can’t be held to ransom by few handful like them…wish they would come out & stand by the innumerable villagers who have got displaced & evicted so that we get 24 hours drinking water, wider roads, better electricity, more water, express highway to zip across to the weekend getaways…including the farms at Khapoli, Khandala, Karjat, Pune…& live more luxuriously…When we want more water, power & express ways these very richie richies would like to silence the protestors by luring them with money and jobs…

Get real, it happens to you too….NOT just the poor…sacrifice for the betterment or development of the city is NO need of the hour. We will all remember ur small contribution!


I decided to get on to this blogspot stuff (don’t ask me the nitty-gritties) as one news story of mine (mera number akhir mein aya) made more news than I’d ever imagined!

On March 25, 2006, the newspaper i work in, DNA (Daily News & Analysis-latter half is often missing) published-along with some other newspapers- that the Mahrashtra govt had once again given a green signal to the Peddar road flyover.

RECAP – Yeah i didn’t much care for government’s decision, coz we-as in Bombayites-had seen it five years ago how the govt declared we needed a flyover at Peddar road in order to curb traffic & promptly left it in limbo. immediately after the announcement, India’s Nightingale, Bharat Ratna, as in Lata Mangeshkar-urf-Lata ‘didi’ screamed stop press! She was upset, the traffic noise & air pollution was causing her pain and she would lose her voice if the darn flyover came across her flat!

Well, meanwhile we had a flyover across Mohd Ali Road, as in the lovely JJ flyover was built with scores of cars flying on it. Sadly the faint voices of majority Muslims were silenced with city’s need for flyover & development. There were political parties that also brought in religion and nationalism as an argument against the Muslims. Muslims silenced their fears and opted for hope of a better & smoother future. That was only partially true, except that now when u fly across the bridge at JJ, one can say ‘salam walekum’ to all the residents & ask what’s cooking in their homes!

A similar story or more nearer is the example of residents staying across the Sion flyover. Most can jump into their houses if they attempted…new feat, say wot?

But here we had a lady whose voice is most precious to us, no doubt, but that’s a separate issue. She threatened she would lose her voice due to a flyover. So our state govt had got into action…which is? Just sit back and let the events unfold. Somewhere along BJP had made to believe that the Democratic Front govt would not get re-elected in 2004. But they did..so once again the same CM, Vilasrao Deshmukh and the newly appointed state public works minister gave a green signal to this impending project. Meanwhile, Lata’s sister Asha threatened to settle down in Dubai. She told this to Times of India & then she did a U-turn and coolly denied it.

Phew! Now cut to the present- On March 25, I was asked by my editor to get the reaction of Lata Mangeshkar “come what may, I don’t care by evening i want it.” He asked me to pick my note book & rush to her residence at Prabhu Kunj. My heart just sank & making a face I turned away. I was NO cub reporter that I was being asked to go to Mangeshkar’s house…then i just called the one & only Indu who i just bank on for anything to do with films… If i’m blunt..Indu’s icing on the cake! She was like..”u know me na neeta, I’m not in sync with Lata types…” (I just luv her) but she suggested I go to her boss’s cabin & take the screen world book which have all the names & nos of film personalities.

Now begins my true story…At 4:17:48 pm, I called on 2351…landline of the Mangeshkars..the younger sister Usha answered. After I introduced myself she just rattled off like a Dombivili fast local…she merely voiced her angst & ire at the minister who had taunted the ‘BIG people.’ She was interrupted twice by her ‘didi.’ I finally overheard her saying “stop this banter i will only talk to the person.” She said “namaskar !” & for a full second i was voiceless…tongue-tied & struggled to speak..she immediately said “me Lata Mangeshkar boltey,” in her girlish voice. (can’t blame the men to melt).

Till that moment i was expecting things like “sorry I can’t talk,” “why have you called us to bother us,” etc, etc. I was even prepared for ‘didi’ to change her voice, (as she’s known to change her voice & say “lata didi is not at home”)….I NEVER imagined that the nightingale/singing queen would talk to me directly!

Regaining my composure i re-introduced myself. After a small pause she chatted & told me how life would become painful with the flyover. I asked her if i could I publish this & attribute to her (quote) & she said “You must write. All people need to come forward and take stand on this, no one individual can do anything. I will talk to the chief minister but we will have to bring a stay order on this flyover & we will need to consult our lawyer first.”

She even asked me if i had spoken to her lawyer Mohan Jaykar (yaya same…husband of Smita Jaykar). I told her that he was on some case in the Supreme Court & he wasn’t answering my phone, but i had smsd him. Ms Mangeshkar then asked me to pass on her message to her lawyer. I asked her if she wanted Mohan’s number, and she promptly said, “Me kashala karu tyana phone, tyana sanga mala phhone karayala.” (Why should i call, ask him to call me). This call with Lata didi lasted for 5.13 minutes. After which i spoke to Veena Singhal (president of Peddar Rd Residents’ Assn) & Milind Deora for their reactions.

On March 26, DNA carried Lata Mangeshkar’s news on the front page. But wait, Subhash K Jha, the most trusted lieutenant of the Bollywood world also had a scoop…Lata didi told him she would leave Mumbai city & go if the flyover came up. Meanwhile i smsd mr Jaykar & informed “that Lataji wanted him to speak to her.” Next four days were a roller coaster ride for Mr Jha & Yours truly. People insinuated things about me. Accused me of fabricating the quotes & story…but i liked the true Bombay spirit shown by listeners. People said, “Didi we will help you pack your bags.”

Sorry…this letting out one’s ire has NOTHING to do with her singing, talent & god given talent. NO one has doubted all of it. I’m distressed that of the lack of bond that the person showed as regards to the city that made her successful & gave her everything. Sad that many elite people in this city are selfish & don’t wish to give back anything to Bombay. Hello, weren’t these the very people who will criticise the likes of Medha Patkar??? Accused her of stalling projects & rest of the elite are quiet on Lata?

As the reactions began coming in regarding Lata Mangeshkar’s news, madam suddenly got an attack of amnesia, so typical Bollywood…she put ‘Henna’ to shame! She just sent out faxes from her true friend, politician’s office…outright denying she spoke to any media person! Outrageous… yes considering that it was none other than the Bharat ratna who has lied…she has stature, respect, was on a pedestal in all the eyes of all Indians….but why after four days deny something that did happen?

i’m a journalist. I had a few questions…why did She not fax, instead of using Raj Thackeray’s off? A billionairess doesn’t have a fax machine? Is she being supported by the politican in this issue that concerns thousands of Mumbaikars?? No one wrote about this but the letter has been stored by many of my colleagues…

I’m paid as a journo to report truthfully & i’m committed to it. I have a job & i’m clear i will report correctly rather than publish half truths for the sake of keeping good relations with anyone. i retrieved my call list from the computer & got a print out. Our sweet tele operator, Raju…He saved my reputation! And my notes…well, my dirty old habit of writing down while the person talks has helped me tremendously. I spoke to few lawyers who said hand-written notes are admitted & even sent to handwriting expert. As a rule i save my notes for at least 7 years.

My bosses didn’t bat an eyelid, altho the reporter was already rolling her big fat eyes at me saying she was just alerting me that ‘didi’ was going on record to deny her conversation with me…hahahaha..what should i say?? Her politician friend’s close aides asked me why i had published an article depicting her wrongly, how could Lata didi lie?

Excuse me? What does it take for some big personality to lie? I strongly believe that it takes a lot to speak the truth! I asked, “Why? Isn’t Lata a liar? She is if she feigns ignorance of speaking to me even after giving me an interview.” Its a matter of my reputation, credibility & reportage. Her denial simply means she has labelised & maligned me for reporting truly…oh the next thing i know is I’ve insulted a Bharat ratna…didi…how could i bitch about her? How have i spoken such ill of such a great personality…Some gossip that was spread -i’m happy.

I want to kick ass…one needs guts & courage to stand up for what one believes in & sadly NOT all humans have it. We have time & again seen how renowned & highly talented people have screwed their reputation publicly..whether it is owning up to an alleged murder of an ordinary citizen/an affair, financial/professional problems or simply sticking to what one has said. A social/environmental/political issue is not everybody’s cup of tea. More so the issue here is to do with Mumbai city’s project.

Can development can be stalled for one person? Do we forget the project-affected people in our poor rural areas that are left homeless & without any rehabilitation? And here we Bombayites suffer day-in-&-day-out waiting for minutes to get a clear road from Lotus cinema onwards down Haji Ali uptil Kemp’s Corner. All because there is no flyover…Peddar road is where the rich people live- including the one who objected…

The story did create waves in the city…i got many a friend & peer calling me up & congratulating me…some colleagues bitched & sniggered, my bosses were proud of me…but really speaking the interview with Lata was something that just happened by fluke. It was sheer timing of the news…just that ‘didi’ & her fans, devout ones especially should realise that this is my job & profession. I love news & can smell it ahead….

Experiences, travelling alone as a woman, observations & current issues