New Delhi: Renowned music conductor Zubin Mehta has alleged that The Times of India removed just one line from an interview he recently gave to the newspaper – in which he said that he wishes Muslims in India are able to live in peace forever.
Mehta made this remark towards the end of a free-wheeling conversation with Karan Thapar about growing up in Bombay. Thapar asked the conductor what he thinks of “the sort of country we’re becoming”, particularly in relation to the treatment of minorities, especially Muslims.
“Listen, I’ll tell you frankly,” Mehta replied. “I gave an interview to The Times of India over the phone from Los Angeles two weeks ago. A very good interview; and I read it, it was verbatim perfect. The last sentence I told the man, and I met him recently, and he admitted, they took out the last thing I said: ‘I hope my Muslim friends can live in peace forever in India.’ And that was not printed in The Times. It was cut off, and the writer couldn’t give me a reason why.”
“They don’t want to offend Mr. Modi and the government,” Thapar responded.
“How would that offend anybody? …This morning I read that they were burning churches in Pakistan. One has to get over this madness of religious persecution. Hopefully, things will change,” Mehta said.
Mehta then went on to speak about the situation in Israel, saying that he hopes the government there will change very soon. The current situation there, he said, “is unbearable”.
Mehta’s comment that he is referring to here did not appear in the print version of The Times of India. But when The Wire checked the online version on Monday (August 21) at 11 am, the interview contained that quote.
Responding to Mehta’s comment on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, The Times of India said that the interview had been “trimmed to fit the page” and “the line being referred to was towards the end of the interview and got left out in that process”. It was restored in the online version, the publication said, after Mehta spoke to the author about it.
The TOI interview with Mr Mehta was long and had to be trimmed to fit the page. The line being referred to was towards the end of the interview and got left out in that process. Subsequently, Mr Mehta spoke to the interviewer about its omission and it was restored online.
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) August 21, 2023
Q: And in India?
A: Well, I speak to a lot of Indian friends, and I get my reports from them. I hope my Muslim friends in India will live in peace forever.
In fact, the 33 words cut by the newspaper come in the middle of the interview, not “towards the end”, and seem to be the only words cut “for reasons of space”.
Note: This article was updated with additional information.