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Open letter to editors and friends in media by Palash Biswas!

Palash Biswas

Friends,

I am a working journalist based in Kolkata. Unfortunately, I could not prove myself that professional as most of you happen to be. I became a journalist just because of my environment activism since seventies. Based in Nainital, I had to write about the plight of the Himalayan people, their plight, sufferings and aspirations. Eventually, it made me a professional journalist since 1980, when I joined a daily paper in Dhanbad in Jharkhand. I could work in UP major daily newspapers in senior position and played the role of recruiter and trainer as well, thanks to Dainik Jaagaran and Dainik Amarujala.

Many of my recruits have become editors and policy makers, I am happy. This is my only achievement which I dare to boast of. Otherwise, I am by status reduced to a sub editor thanks to Kolkata and eminent journalist Prabhash Joshi. I was made a Benjamin Jakaria way back in 1991. But I did not seek any escape route as initially I had always been a Himalayan activist who never knows any escape route at all.

I decided to stay in Kolkata and continue the fight. I do not repent my decision.

Financially, in accordance with my humble professional status, I may not afford to move much. I have not been involved in policy decisions in media house since 1991, coincidentally, the year which heralded open market economy in India and which changed media scenario. My friend Dilip Mandal headed so many iconic newspapers and channels. Many of my friends are editors. I never did suggest anything.

But I could not be silent at this critical juncture while the Himalayas and the Himalayan people are on stake.

Live media coverage failed to address basic issues.

Then our old friend, Uttam Sengupta appealed to those who returned from the tragedy struck zones on his Facebook wall.

I expected some initiative should be taken. But the special edition published by Outlook rather disappointed. It chose Officials and politicians and editors to voice the Himalayas.

It made me irritated. I responded on Facebook. As I have been knowing and following Uttamda since his Ranchi days, I could do that. Status wise, I should not dare for the misadventure.

But Uttamda responded again on Facebook.

I salute his greatness that he digested my outburst and asked me to write and suggest the content to be published. No one asked me for this for last two decades since globalisation and reforms introduced.

It is relevant to our people those stranded in the remotest area and have never been subjected to any rescue operation in any kind of disaster. They are predestined to die with the melting glaciers and exploding dams and global warming in the inundated geography, earthquake landslide prone.

 

Media focuses on the tourists and religious tourism.

They highlight the Dev Bhoomi and are not concerned with the humanity of blood and flesh at all.

Rivers are the lifelines all over the Himalayas across political borders. Rassipuls are the only escape routes there.

I have seen the Himalayan villages stranded infinitely, suffering and starving in disaster times so many times.

I may not move from Kolkata and I stand thousands miles away from my home and my people. But my heart bleeds and my mind is preoccupied with panging pain infinite.

I may see from Kolkata all the villages across the boiling rivers and amidst the breaking hills. Those villages are not voiced at all. During 1970 and 1978 floods they had to live on potatoes only. No copter flights fly over their raining sky. Their tears fill the rivers, lakes and springs. So that they should not dry. We know the tourist spots and are focusing only on them. We dare not see beyond Gangotri, Jamonotri and Kedar Badri. We may feel the flowing Ganges and Yamuna but we may not touch the waters of Tauns, Rāmgangā, Kosi, Kali and Sharada, They may not invoke the God`s regime!

Since I am not in the Himalayas, I dare not to occupy precious space on media. For almost a decade, I have reduced myself to a humble position of a blogger. Some friends visit my blogs. Some friends on social media post them on their respective spaces. That`s all, My ambition is dead while I live and wait for quite retirement. My songs would never be sung. My poems are not to be read. My prose has not to move anyone.

That`s all.

Whatever I feel, I write just on my own space. Facebook, nevertheless, provided me a wider audience, wider space.

I plead to you all. Please locate the people who had been continuously in touch of the missing, suffering villages.

I may suggest some names also. You may have known respected Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt from Garawal. Bhawani Bhai still lives. A rigid activist Dhoom Singh Negi is based in Jajal just below the New Tehri. There, the young son of our late friend Pratap Shisha, Aranya is also very active in these days. Kamal Joshi, a self-made photo journalist is based in Kotdwar and he always roams around the Himalayas. Professor Shekhar Pathak, his wife professor Uma Bhatt and her Uttara team are always in touch of most of the Himalayas. Particularly, Uttara team has done an excellent work during 1991 earthquakes. I based my novelette `Purani Tehri Nai Tehri’ totally on their experiences. Rajiv Lochan Sah and Shamsher Singh Bisht respectively from Nainital and Almora may voice the Himalayas very well. Specifically, Rajiv and Shekhar and Uma Bhabhi have excellent networks all over the Himalayas. Shamsherda is not a lesser person but he is ailing and not in a position to move. Two young Turks Chandra Shekhar Kargeti, based in New Delhi perhaps and Prayag Pandey based in Nainital are doing excellent work these days. They may provide leads.

Moreover Teesri Dunia editor  Anand Swarup Verma, closely associated with Himalayan struggle and specifically with changes in Nepal, editor of samayantar, Pankaj Bisht, our beloved poets like Manglesh Dabral based in Delhi and Viren Dangwal, based in Bareilly, Outlook reporter Panini Anand and his friend Abhishek Shrivastav have enormous potential to address the basic problems. I was disappointed to see Panini missing in Outlook special edition.

In Uttarakhand, there is a new generation of active journalists who based in every part of the Himalayas. They are doing excellent job. But they must have better space, better say and need proper guidelines as well as resources. Ironically, their exclusive reports are published on local pages and limited in particular regions. Nation is not aware of them.

We may get clues from Facebook walls of those, who are based in the Himalayas.

I may hope, at least, our Uttamda would take notice of this open letter.

Thanks

 

Yours faithfully

Palash Biswas

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