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Irresponsible behavior in the enforcement arm of our governance

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Governance

 “B. Mutnanna DCP Traffic Ordered for Jonny walker Blue label scotch but got something Desi equivalent at Le Meridian Hotel in Bangalore yesterday 15Dec2010. The DCP and his friend quarreled with the hotel staff and left after the party without paying the bill.” [1]

The incident reported in Bangalore Mirror of Thursday December 16, 2010 makes a sad reading indeed. Police collecting “hafta” is a very familiar and accepted malady in our governance. However the same in higher ups is a sad deterioration like rotting of the body from head down. [2] 

The Police, the enforcement arm of governance, often in collusion with the Law makers could be a stumbling block indeed, of our democracy. It needs to be condemned in all forums of the city.   

Comments

silkboard's picture

verify first, condemn later

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Not supporting the police officers named here. We know there are black sheeps in there. But why is this report on the front page of a "tabloid". Why is it not worthy of being a headline in a regular newspaper? Who is to say that the no-traffic sign placed near this hotel was not required in the first place?

Why are we trained to just accept these reports as they are? Could it be that the hotel folks offered scotch to the cop to get the no-traffic sign removed?

murali772's picture

sufficient verification done, I would like to believe

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@SB - I don't think Bangalore Mirror, even if a tabloid, will publish such stories without doing sufficient homework. Besides, as part of the ToI group, they have many things at stake, and can't afford to be too wrong. So, I would generally believe the story. And, by propagating it, I should think we are extending the reach of the exposure, and thereby doing a service.

Anyway, where do citizens like Anantram have the resources to verify such stories?
 

Muralidhar Rao
psaram42's picture

Bangalore Mirror is a Tabloid

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 A tabloid is a newspaper industry term which refers to a smaller newspaper format per spread; to a weekly or semi-weekly alternative newspaper that focuses on local-interest stories and entertainment, often distributed for free. 

This is the case with Bangalore Mirror. The “stories” (not fiction) need be true. As per my observations some important news is repeated in a condensed form in the main TOI paper too. Obviously this petty offence of Mr. Muthanna does not find a place in the main paper. You are right SB. 

The report is about a senior non IPS police officer not paying the bill, for what he and his friends consumed at the hotel. The hotel management chose not to go to the police station to report the offence for obvious reasons. Instead it went to the media. The officer concerned has not denied the charges of non payment of dues, as per the media report. 

The officer seems to be habituated in this kind of frivolous habit of entertaining self accompanied by guests, free of cost. This is condemnable in itself. The hotel management being guilty or not does not count please!!

silkboard's picture

more report on the incident

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PSA sir, if it came across as giving a clean chit to the DCP, I must take that back. Why such a story is not worthy of the "main" newspaper (wherein ToI is now carrying sex advice and trends right next to the editorial. why leave the edtorial page intact, kill that too please, the job will be complete) beats me, and I would suspect that tabloids are made to carry low stories with lower credibility. I don't know, I may be wrong, but I would like to know.

However, it seems DCP has "pressurized" the Hotel to "retract" the story they recounted to Blr Mirror. And apparently the Hotel has done so. Despite coverage via media/tabloid, and "reputation" of the DCP involved, the Hotel preferes not to complain (to the DCP's boss? would that be Mr Sood?). Well, if that is how businesses work, police etc will keep milking them to their liking.

psaram42's picture

Mute spectator

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SB I talked to a couple of reporters of the Bangalore Mirror and the x chief editor of DNA. The reporters are a set of people hard pressed for time to meet the dead lines each day. It is the responsibility of the editorial team to decide where exactly what goes. We should bear in mind that a daily paper carries a lot of adds which is the main source of income to the paper. The advertisement content of a news paper normally outweighs the news content itself. So is the case with our idiot box. 

A Tabloid is only an extension of the main paper. For example Bangalore Mirror is a [free] Tabloid is an extension of TOI. It the prerogative of the Editorial team of TOI to manage both. The DCP has risen from the ranks and hence may not be compared to his bosses who come from the IPS cadre. 

The paper cannot take the risk of publishing low credibility articles either in main paper or its Tabloid extension. “Tabloid” only means a different format often given free. As far as credibility of information TOI cannot afford to be careless just because the format is different. Who wants free edition with wrong information? The tabloid is free because it carries more advertisements which are a source of income to the paper. 

The milking goes on because our chief minister heading the cabinet is a mute spectator.

silkboard's picture

absolutely wrong

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About this PSA sir:

The milking goes on because our chief minister heading the cabinet is a mute spectator, for example.

Absolutely wrong. It goes on because hotels like this one retract their claims when pressured by a DCP. When they don't have the guts, they should not complain, and that too via media.

The pressure on journalists seems to be high because of the focus on quantity of reports, as opposed to depth (aka quality). It would be depth/quality if the same journalist would carry more details on this story, run a survey asking for more businesses who have been harassed by the DCP or similar people, run the story again, this time with a quote from police side as well, then go to the boss of this DCP asking if there have been other complaints against this DCP etc etc.

Talking journalism, can we readily name local journalists for each major topic/area for our city - like water, transportation, policing etc? Why do they not make journalists specialize? Yes, there is pressure to make money as well, but there needs to be some open debate on quality and depth of local journalism. If quality local journalism is not a viable proposition, then government needs to fund it (public radio types). Sadly, it won't ever happen because its the same newspapers who control what gets debated on public medium.

There is so much scope and space for quality local journalism. .... Okay now, I am into pure arm-chair critic and preaching mode, a journalist would be best placed to comment on these. So I will stop, and just say that as a consumer of local news, I am not happy to not see DCP Muthanna's story in the main newspaper, and would want to know how the TOI editor decided that it was worth Blr Mirror and not TOI.

psaram42's picture

Now I understand what you are saying SB

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Your main point is that the DCP episode should have gone into the Main TOI paper not the Tabloid Bangalore mirror. However it is the prerogative of the paper. Hope the paper will exercise more caution, in future. 

“Absolutely wrong. It goes on because hotels like this one retract their claims when pressured by a DCP. When they don't have the guts, they should not complain, and that too via media. 

I do not subscribe to this. DCP pressurizing the Hotel is a more serious offence on the other hand. That is why the chief minister should intervene even now. He is the authority of our democratic set up. He should act on our behalf by way of attempting to find out what is this tamasha going on.

murali772's picture

good show, BM

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The following excerpts from yesterday's report on the story, puts Bangalore Mirror on a higher credibility rating, as far as I am concerned:

We at Mirror stand by the story. Not only was our report corroborated by eye witnesses to the argument the DCP and his friends had with the hotel staff over foreign liquor, but the senior executive who spoke to us — we have that conversation recorded — clearly stated that the no parking boards planted at the exit gate of the hotel came up after the tiff between the DCP and hotel staff over foreign liquor. He termed it as a vengeful action by the DCP and his friends. Following the fax received from the hotel, our sources at the hotel confirmed that the DCP and other police officers brought pressure to bear on the hotel. “We were called to DCP’s office yesterday (Thursday) and told to issue this letter. Otherwise, they threatened to turn even more vengeful.’’ Prior to publication of the report, the DCP had tried every means to stop the publication of the story.

Moreover, the reporter has put down his name and email ID, even. What made ToI not carry the story in the main paper, but only in its tabloid version, I have no clue to. But, either way, everything points to a sufficiently well-researched, public-interest story.

ToI is certainly unconventional in its business promotion ways, which includes publishing pictures of scantily clad women, even on pages adjascent to the editorial (They appear to have been quite successful, going by the way many others are following suit, too). But, that doesn't appear to have taken away from the overall credibility of their news coverage and editorial policies. And, perhaps that's also why they have on their panel many eminent columnists (apart, of course, from the fact that they must be paying well), whose writings are a must read for me, particularly on Sundays.

Now, if Le Meridien didn't pursue the matter with the DCP's boss, it's perhaps because they felt that he wouldn't help much either. When a story such as this gets published about as senior an official as a DCP, one would have expected the boss to conduct an enquiry of his own and take necessary action. But, apparently, all that both seem to be interested is in getting a retraction, and thereby 'cleaning up' the DCP's personal record.

Well, with the kind of political leadership we have, I expect, the rot will continue going deeper, all around. 

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

Considering TOI as epitome of reporting truth!

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SB,

I trust you are not announcing that TOI should be considered as 'Epitome' of journalistic source for truthful and unbiased stories.

It seems you are suggesting that, if it is not TOI story it is not worth reading or should get discussed or considered. Sorry I don't agree with this line of argument. I am positive many on Praja would disagree with your line of argument on TOI.

Just to comment on journalistic culture of TOI, just go back to pages of its over enthusiastic coverage of opposition to BIAL from Bengaluru's who's and who. Compare to this, it's coverage of scams and public loot allegations in Karnataka. This 2 examples should set the records straight about TOI's journalism and its values.

Coming to your question of why Le Meridien Hotel back tracking will need few discussion threads. Each one of us toe this line in pursuit of greater good against standing up to wrongs and injustices. Result is time will come when we ourselves would be ashamed of even looking at it. Classic examples are wine stores in residential localities, Dowry system.

What should be condemned? Hotel's retraction? or Police authority's high handedness? Any right person would tell that It should be both. I will also say that it should be both, but police action should be condemned more. I would suggest when we meet Praveen Sood we should bring up this issue.

Otherwise what you are suggesting is, since Mr. Tata has not told the whole story at right time, we should just ignore the tabloids story of 2G and mining scams.

Shouldn't we probe this little deep and ask the police authorities as to what governs the rule of posting "No Parking Space"? What factors determines the necessity of No parking sign? Who proposes it? Who decides and authorizes? who enforces it and how?

Instead of arguing on whether it should be in TOI or BM, let us ask these questions and see how this is done at present. May be answers to these will point to correction in the system and culture of signs on roads.

murali772's picture

long way to becoming the epitome

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@Syed - SB was in fact saying quite the opposite, if I have understood correctly. And, it was I who was according a "higher credibility rating" to Bangalore Mirror, as well as ToI. But, that's a lot different from seeing them as the the 'epitome' of good journalism.

Muralidhar Rao
spry's picture

no cctv in hotel

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Was there no CCTV there? I guess now its manadatory for star hotels to have CCTV in common area to monitor movement of every incoming/outgoing guest. I thik if they want they can bring the truth.

-Spry.


psaram42's picture

Credibility is not the issue

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 The underlying issue of the thread is neither the credibility of papers main vs tabloid versions nor the credibility of a given paper itself. If understood correctly it is SB’s view that TOI is more credible than Bangalore Mirror which is in a Tabloid format. Hence he felt that the story under reference should have been published in the main version of the paper TOI itself. 

The real issue is like the seed and tree issue. Obviously it is an unsolved problem in deciding which is more important. So is the present situation of Le Meridian vs DCP B Muthanna.  Instead of digressing let us vote for both parties being black listed appropriately.  

I feel TOI group of papers have done a good job

silkboard's picture

Responses

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Syed:

Each one of us toe this line in pursuit of greater good against standing up to wrongs and injustices.

Even when a big media house is carrying your story to the lakhs of households? Why? You and Me being afraid (after getting one threatening call) is one thing, but a well known business, with their story out in front of lakhs of citizens is another.

On Journalism, I am not into credibility debate, only trying to understand how they decide what story goes into which paper/tabloid (ToI vs Blr Mirror). There must be some yardstick, or criteria. One of these is free (apparently of lower value?) and other is not (you pay to get it). One has a Bangalore edition (ToI, "Bangalore"), and yet, the headlines are mostly about Delhi. The other says it is a mirror of Bangalore, but carries news (and babes and soccer leagues) from around the Globe. I am just intrigued by the categorization, and assumptions about local journalism.

The curiosity is academic, that's all, would be interested in hearing answers, if possible, from the journalists themselves :)

silkboard's picture

Not so rare to find and report?

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Talking of cops harassing businesses, I have seen a few myself, have pictures as well. Two instances I can recount

  • Where: Shanthi Sagar, close to South End Circle, just north of it. When? one saturday morning. Was returning from a morning trip to Lal Bagh. Two cops walked in. Asked for coffee and khara bhat. And to my dismay, grabbed some money from the counter instead of paying anything. And they walked away. I missed taking a picture due to my phone camera being slow.
  • Where: Gandhi Bazaar, a side lane that connects to the main road. when? Evening. A cop was going around collecting money from the hawkers with push carts. Took his picture once, and follow him to take another. He realized, and kept away. And after he realized, I was a bit scared myself.

Who should put and end to all this? Shall we all wait for a good CM to drop from the heavens, get elected while staying 'good', and then fix it all by cloning himself a thousand times over to be present everywhere at once in chhadma vesha? I don't have good answers myself.

PS: Here is a pic from Gandhi Bazaar incident above.

silkboard's picture

Clarifications

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Came back to this post because comments here have generated a few phone calls and personal emails. May be I goofed up some words above, either due to the rush, or because English is my third language. But the points are:

  • Why are we trained to by-default empathize with the party pitted against the government? Please do NOT read this as giving clean chit to DCP Muthanna or any govt side party in such incidents. But couldn't it be that the hotel complies every day (free drinks to visiting cops?), it didn't go well once, and they called the newspaper? The hotel has been around for years, and so have been the cops. Why are we usually not interested in knowing more about the "giver side" of such stories?
  • Since the journalist didn't dig deep into either of the two sides (DCP's history, if other cops also demand free drinks, any other hotels that "comply" etc etc), he or she perhaps wanted to just report that cops extract free gifts (possibly money as well?) from businesses. Spend an hour in any unorganized shopping area, and you could discover that mobile cart vendors "pay" Rs 150 a week or more to stay in business. Hawkers on pavements pay Rs 20-40 per "visit", either by a local cop, or the local "biggie". But these stories are not worthy of being told. Is it because it sounds and sells a lot better when dressed up with a Five star hotel and a DCP? Or is it because Five Star hotels are a lot nicer and cozier to be at :).
murali772's picture

further clarification

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@SB

Why are we trained to by-default empathize with the party pitted against the government?

That's because they control everything that affects the day to day life of the people, and they have been making a general mess of everything. And, please remember, I am the person who took Airtel to court.

Further, just because the BM reporter didn't do as elaborate a research as one may have liked, it still doesn't take away from the credibility of the report.

Also, a similar story from me (not involving any 5-star hotel, or a big cop) was amongst the first to be published by Citizen Matters - check this
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

After the DCP, it's now the ACP!

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Just as the New Year party was beginning to rock for more than 200 guests at Hotel Le Meridien’s Le Brasseir coffee shop, who had shelled out Rs 7,700 per head for it, they were subjected to a do-good lecture from M Chandrappa, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Yeshwanthpur), and then, another 15 minutes of more of the same from his 16-year-old daughter. To top it all, the cop’s family walked away with all the three lucky draw prizes for the evening - the cop himself won an all-expense-paid trip to Dubai; his wife won a stay at Mauritius; and their daughter won a trip to Goa — all sponsored by Le Meridien Hotel. “They were a large party of about 12 - may be that explains their luck,” explained a hotel source.

For the full report in the Bangalore Mirror, click here

Commenting on the CWG, Adarsh, and such scams, a friend was asking 'how do the people involved face upto their children?'. Here, does the ACP's daughter, who went on to give a do-good lecture, understand that when her father spends close to Rs 1 lakh on a new-year party, there's something seriously amiss? Or, has she also, even though just 16, 'matured' to the ways of the world?

A lot many people even today hanker after government jobs inspite of the comparatively lesser salaries on offer. The reason clearly are these 'perks' of office. And, that's also why it's imperative to down-size governments from the behemoths they have become today. For more on that, click here.

And, as for Le Meridien, like it was said of many business houses during the emergency, "when asked to bend, they chose to crawl". And, today, we don't have an emergency even.
 

Muralidhar Rao
psaram42's picture

The good bad and the ugly

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 The Bangalore mirror article did attract my attention too. Discounting the showmanship journalism of the daily, we cannot ignore the reporter’s hard work. [Was he there in the party?] 

Obviously the ACP was not on duty to give a do good lecture at New Year’s party with his family. Hence it is necessary for the Police bosses to take an explanation from the concerned officer about his conduct on the particular day. Investigation on his spending habits, disproportionate to his declared income if he happened to pay the star hotel his bill, needs to be done. If the party was “free” for him and the family the public is having a right to know. Does RTI work in this instance? 

Was the ACP winning the lottery at the party only a cheap joke? If not it is worthwhile to investigate such issues. The enforcement arm breaking the law is like “The fence eating the crop” a popular saying in Kannada.

kbsyed61's picture

Traffif Cop uses traffic signal for Advertising her PG accom!

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Courtesy - Bangalore Mirror

Chikkajala traffic cop Umadevi advertises her PG accommodation on traffic sign posts, with her phone number

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/article/10/2011010820110108081325698f2297f73/Inspector-%E2%80%98turns%E2%80%99-traffic-signs-into-ads-.html

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