Bajrang Dal leader decides to withdraw case against THE WEEK

Magazine praised for its unbiased reporting and a willingness to accept mistakes

39-THE-WEEK-Editor-in-Charge-Jayaschandran Amicable settlement: THE WEEK Editor-in-Charge V.S. Jayaschandran hands over the letter of apology to Prakash Sharma, former convener of the Bajrang Dal. (From right) VHP leaders Virendra Pandey, Rajeev Porwal and Rajeev Mahana, THE WEEK Senior Regional General Manager (Sales) Kush Mohan Joshi and THE WEEK Resident Editor, Delhi, R. Prasannan | Manish Srivastava

THE WEEK was praised for its sincerity, unbiased reporting and a willingness to accept and apologise for its mistakes. In the issue dated July 24, 2022, THE WEEK had published an illustration of the Goddess Kali obtained from the visual images company Getty Images, which had described it as a centuries-old work of Kangra art. Upon objections to the image, THE WEEK immediately removed it from its online editions, besides publishing an apology on the website and in the magazine. By then, however, Prakash Sharma, former convener of the Bajrang Dal, had filed a complaint at Kanpur’s Kotwali police station.

A year later, Sharma announced that he had been impressed by THE WEEK’s determination to make amends. “I am a follower of the Ramcharitmanas, and, as Lord Ram said, anyone who comes to apologise with an open heart deserves immediate forgiveness. If we don’t forgive, then we are the sinners,” he said at a function organised in Kanpur on July 22. It was attended by prominent leaders of the Vishva Hindu Parishad.

Sharma said that it was just a perception that a publication is biased against Hindus on the basis of just one article or picture. THE WEEK had disproved this perception. “The editors have been in touch with us very humbly, with a large heart and with an open mind,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind asking for a public apology, Sharma said that many of his associates had participated in demonstrations against the magazine and thus they deserved to know the outcome, instead of a compromise being struck without their knowledge. He said that he had been in touch with the BJP's top brass, who had described the magazine as very objective in its reporting. Sharma also said that he and his colleagues would withdraw the police complaints filed in Kanpur, Fatehpur and other places, if any, that they had lodged against THE WEEK.

Also present on the dais were Rajeev Mahana, Kanpur prant VHP president; Virendra Pandey, Kanpur prant VHP vice president; Rajeev Porwal, Kanpur prant VHP secretary; Sharad Sharma, VHP spokesperson for Awadh prant, and Dilip Kumar Dubey, senior legal counsel, besides senior representatives of the magazine. Senior journalist Mahesh Sharma, who was invited to the dais, said, “THE WEEK walks on the razor’s edge in its reporting. It is stationed in Kerala, where politics is between the Congress-led front and the communist-led front, and the publication has maintained its objectivity in reporting. The group’s history bears testimony to its unbiased reporting.”

V.S. Jayaschandran, Editor-in-Charge, THE WEEK, read out the apology letter which said, “… the publication was not intended to hurt the sentiments of any community or persons; it was done in good faith, without ill will.” He also said appropriate disciplinary action had been taken within the organisation. The apology was duly translated into Hindi.

Mahana said the whole episode bore testimony to the fact that people would not, under the guise of secularism, remain inactive when their religion was offended. “The fact that THE WEEK’s representatives have come here is testimony to their sincerity and we welcome it. The message of this episode will be heard throughout the country.”

The function concluded with THE WEEK’s representatives handing over the letter of apology. They were given framed images of the Goddess Kali.