A discussion on trial by media and its ethical limits

by Ritwik on December 27, 2013

Saturday Talk

Campaign for Khurshid Anwar


A discussion on TV reporting and its ethical limits in the background of Khurshid Anwar’s media trial and his subsequent suicide.

It will be an open forum.

Prominent journalists will be participating in the discussion.

Time: 4 pm

On  28/12/13

Venue: Press Club of India.

For details contact: Sunanda Dikshit (9810906482)




Some Background:

Khurshid Anwar was Executive Director of Institute for Social Democracy, a New Delhi based NGO. He allegedly committed suicide on the morning of 18 December following allegations that charged him with raping a fellow activist on the night of 12 September. The allegations first surfaced on Facebook, and then in a CD prepared in the office of the well-known activist and right-wing sympathizer, Madhu Kishwar.

Kishwar admits that she shot the footage which appears on the CD, but claims that she had no role in its distribution, which has been going on since the last week of September in several towns of North India. Dr Anwar had repeatedly asked those charging him to file an FIR and subject the complainant to a medical test, however this wasn’t done for a long three months.

The absence of inquiry by any competent authority did not deter those attacking Anwar on Facebook. Ultimately the matter reached some unsavoury TV channels, such as the notorious India TV (edited by known BJP insider Rajat Sharma). On the night of 17 December, Sharma, Kishwar and a few others including left-wing women’s activist Kavita Krishnan appeared on a hour long show broadcast in prime time (9pm – 10pm) on India TV, the content of which was slanted in a manner extremely derogatory to Khurshid Anwar.

The next morning, apparently pushed to the brink by the public shaming and vilification, Dr Anwar jumped to death from the roof of his residence building in New Delhi’s Vasant Kunj Area.

Born in Allahabad in 1958, Anwar received his Ph.D in Urdu Literature  from New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he was an activist with the All India Students Federation, the student wing of the Communist Party of India. Anwar was an atheist and a lifelong leftist and was a well known figure in activist circles in Delhi.

Over a long career as a grassroots activist, Anwar pioneered the concept of training volunteers in issues of communal harmony, secularism and related areas. He has trained thousands of volunteers to uphold these ideals in public spaces in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries.

He was a fierce critic of communalism, particularly of the Muslim variety. In 2013, he wrote a series of opinion articles in the respected Hindi daily Jansatta, sharply attacking Wahabbism. He received many death threats over these articles.

His NGO, Institue for Social Democracy, was one of the spearheads of the Nirbhaya anti-rape protests in Delhi in 2012-13. His was the only organization in the country to observe Dec 16 as a holiday in memory of Nirbhaya’s struggle.

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