New Delhi: Jagdamba Mall – a veteran Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak who has been active in Nagaland for over four decades – has contested The Wire’s story that revealed details of a draft Nagaland peace plan that he drew up and circulated to the media, including to The Wire. Mall had also told The Wire‘s correspondent that the draft RSS plan was his “personal effort”, emanating from his “study of the Naga issue for over 45 years”.
Copies of the ‘draft plan’ were sent to some media houses in the Northeast for publication, which included a proposal that Assam’s Dima Hasao district be part of ‘Greater Nagalim’, following which there have been angry protests in Assam. PTI reported that on Friday two people were killed in Dima Hasao district when police opened fire at demonstrators protesting a draft Naga agreement proposed by an RSS member.
Mall is now denying the existence of any such draft plan and has sought an apology from The Wire. The following is a rejoinder from Jagdamba Mall, and a reply from The Wire’s correspondent, Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty:
Rejoinder from Jagdamba Mall
It is surprising to read the title of story, ‘Revealed : RSS Draft Plan for Nagaland Accord’, which is entirely false, mischievous and malicious spreading confusion in Nagaland and adjoining states. You have repeatedly quoted RSS as having put forth a draft plan for Nagaland Accord. This is fictitious, malicious and mischievous. You have also implicated BJP for nothing. This is a crime. Putting your words in somebody else’s mouth is again a sin. You have also implicated the Church which is uncalled for. There is no such draft plan, neither from RSS nor from BJP, so far as my knowledge goes. However, I am nobody to speak or write on behalf of RSS or BJP. It was simply a sharing of an idea which you have twisted causing confusion in the NE region, which is already volatile beyond imagination. Sangeeta, you are from Assam and you are aware of it very well. I want you to publish this letter immediately to clear confusion.You should also express regret for what has been done which was totally uncalled for.
Sangeeta Barooh Pisharoty replies:
Jagdamba Mall has said in a letter addressed to me following the publication of the above story (published in a Guwahati-based online portal and also being circulated on social media) that “it was simply sharing of an idea which you have twisted”.
I would like to categorically state here that Mall’s mail, sent to me and some other media organisations in the Northeast, clearly asked for his proposed draft to be published. The screenshot of his e-mail attached here is a proof of it.
Also, during my subsequent recorded conversations with him, it was clear that the draft was meant for publishing.
Our report clearly stated that it was his “personal effort” that emanated from his “study of the Naga issue for over 45 years”, which he repeated in the report published by the same Guwahati-based news portal.
About the line in my report that “it is no secret that the Sangh supports what he has come up with to arrive at a peace deal as soon as possible”, I have added it based on recorded conversations stating so. The Wire has not drawn its own conclusion in this matter.
Also, I want to underline here that nowhere did our report say it was a draft prepared by the BJP, as Mall claims it did in the letter. And it does not also say it was a draft readied by the central government nor that the Dima Hasao district is a part of the Centre’s negotiations with the Naga leaders.
As to the other allegation of Mall, “You have also implicated Church which is uncalled for”, I want to clearly state here that the Church has been mentioned only once in the report and that too as a quote lifted from thesection titled “Other reasons for Naga youth’s disenchantment” in his proposed draft.
My report only mentioned the Dima Hasao district in quotes, directly picked from Mall’s proposition attached to the story in his original words. Nothing was added. I object to the use of the words “false, mischievous and malicious spreading of confusion in Nagaland and adjoining states”, used by Mall.
The decision to publish Mall’s draft was that as a journalist, I believe such matters should be published in the public interest since these have the potential to generate healthy debates and discussions. I had no vested interest in writing the story.