My first job, as a correspondent for The Telegraph, was, in many ways, a trial by fire. This was way back in 1982, when the anti-foreigners agitation in Assam was at its height. Spearheading the movement against illegal migrants from Bangladesh were the All Assam Students Union (AASU). The student movement got massive support from the Assamese middle class and women were out in the streets protesting and heeding every call given by the students.
While the issue of infiltration was genuine and resonated not just across the northeast but in other parts of the country as well, the movement actually at that time was also anti-left, anti-Bengali, anti-Bihari, anti-Nepali, in short against "outsiders". Many genuine Muslim migrants were also attacked, though they had been settled in the state for generations.
Criticising a popular movement is never easy. More so, if you are reporting from your home state. Both men and women reporters have to face the anger of an enraged and self-righteous middle class. But for a woman journalist this invariably degenerates into abusive language with sexual overtones.
The anger against me was not just that I had questions about certain aspects of the agitation, but that a Assamese reporter dared to question the people's movement. I was labelled a 'desh drohi' . After several of my critical reports appeared in The Telegraph, the student leaders refused to talk to me. At news conferences, held in the AASU headquarters in the university, any question I raised was ignored. The pipsqueaks that were the local reporters, did not bother to protest. While many of them were nice people and friendly at a personal level, they did not dare to stand up for a colleague, worried that their equation with the AASU leaders would be spoiled.
After one such press conference, as I was heading outside, a group of AASU supporters surrounded me and began heckling me. An executive committee member of AASU came up to me and said. "We have been watching you for a long time. We see the lies that you churn out everyday. This is a warning, if you continue this kind of biased reporting, be prepared to be taken up the hill." This was the local slang for “be prepared to be raped!” This kind of language would have never been applied to a man.
I was also under attack for wearing jeans and daring to smoke in public. As sub-nationalist sentiments were at a high during this period, women and even girls wore the traditional Assamese Mekhla chadar. An AASU adviser -- there were hundreds of these pompous guys floating around -- took me on, one day. His point was I should be ashamed of myself, wearing western clothes. Mind you, he himself was in trousers and a shirt, while lecturing me. When I pointed this out to him, he nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders and said, it doesn't matter all men wear these clothes.
Another day, a smiling pot-bellied policeman knocked on my door. He politely informed me that he had a arrest warrant for me, as I had refused to heed the summons of a district court! I was shocked because I had no clue that a criminal case had been filed against me by a AASU leader for a report I had written for Sunday magazine, which was brought out also by the ABP group. The paper stood by me and the case went on for some years. But that is another story.
My next posting was in Sri Lanka at a time when Indians were hated by the majority community. But despite that I never felt threatened or at a disadvantage because of being a woman.
A shorter, edited version of this appears in print magazine
Seema Guha is a senior journalist
Why are MALE journalists not given space to write?
Are they not hysterical enough, like females? Or do they never face problems while reporting?
I would like to express to Ms. Guha, and also generally, that people perceive that men and women were born man and woman respectively, so their sexuality would make them understanding of and to each other, not make the woman in a family the chief means of hitting below the belt of man, and not physically. Women might find it convenient to express themselves, to men in a way, where the man feels she justifies what men feel about women.
If indeed men and women were supposed to foster understanding because of their inherent sexual traits, and not only among men and women, but among men and men also, and also towards other sexes in humanity, then does our human civilization offer any hope for any understanding, or does it seem that people find misunderstanding as beneficial to a means of sexual company, and making money? Are women capable of defending themselves, because men would not be inclined to interact with women, if women can find misunderstanding in the situation, and a totally unrelated misunderstanding.
Does a man want to engage a society to resolve differences and fights, where any man might want to marry his mother, of any age, and when the elderly man uses any language in company with his own friend? It seems, that society has inculcated the attitude, that the people who express their willingness to help society, in private express otherwise, and in an attitude of merriment and jest, and his male friend is forced to agree to an insinuation and innuendo towards family.
<The pipsqueaks that were the local reporters, did not bother to protest.>
This woman shows her abusive trait when she uses obnoxious language to berate others? Is it her birthright that she has people 'standing up' for her, when she feels like?
And what makes her think that AASU had any moral obligation to answer her very likely obnoxious queries.
Common ailment of these females. Taking no responsibility for consequences of their own actions. Bah!
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