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2G Hype: When Citizens Were Swayed By Fake News

Raman Swamy

One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2G Spectrum saga is the way society at large reacted to it. There was a hysterical willingness to believe that the concocted concept of “notional loss” was evidence of corruption. Those who sought to counter the frenzy with common sense and elementary logic were ridiculed and silenced.

Now that the court judgment has been delivered and the facts are there for all to see, it is perhaps time to pause and take a look at ourselves. The truth is that Vinod Rai’s “presumptive loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore” was pure fiction. It was either born of a fertile imagination or colossal ignorance. Some would go further and say it was poisonous political prejudice pouring out of an evil mind.

But what is even more disturbing is that the greed for power among the political class and the lust for blood among influential sections of the Press seem to be as intense today as it was seven years ago, when the spurious Spectrum Scandal first burst upon the nation.

Spurred on by vicious propaganda by unscrupulous politicians in search of votes, force-fed by fake news and swayed by rumours, it is almost as if the common citizen has become accustomed to believing untruth rather than make the effort to sift fact from fiction, right from wrong.

A relatively newer dimension of this is urge to participate in and contribute to the mass frenzy. In his 2000-page judgment on the three interlinked 2G cases before him, Special Judge O. P. Saini touches on the unholy zeal with which so-called public-spirited persons and private applicants – with no genuine evidence -- sought to participate in the effort to nail A. Raja and Kanimozhi to the cross of corruption.

It may be noted, writes the learned judge, that trial of the instant case attracted lot of public attention. Everyone was curious to know about the progress of the proceedings. Due to this, the Courtroom would always remain overcrowded, filled up with persons from all sections of society. Scores of people appeared before the Court and submitted that the true facts had not been placed before the Court. However, when questioned as to whether they were in possession of any definite material for making such an assertion, almost all of them withdrew and left.

But about a dozen of such persons, he goes on to add, did file written applications asking either for further investigation of the case or summoning of additional accused left out by the CBI. None of these applications, however, were found to be supported by any legally admissible material. All the applications were based either on the material already on Court record or wholly irrelevant material.

Accordingly, all these applications resulted in dismissal. Still many people kept appearing before the Court till the last submitting that entire facts were not placed before the Court. When questioned about the material in their possession, all were found to be lacking in this. None of them volunteered to be a Court witness.

Having given this interesting information, the judge added: I may note that the last of such applications was filed on August 25, 2017 by one Dr. Amaidhy, a senior citizen from Chennai. He alleged that investigation of the instant case was not conducted in a fair manner.

He also alleged that the murder of Sadhick Batcha was also not investigated in a fair manner. He stated that Sadhick Batcha was willing to become an approver and that is why he was killed. However, this application too was found to be full of unfounded allegations. It was accordingly dismissed on September 15.

Judge Saini says there are also many representations on record made by “various prominent public-spirited persons” before various Authorities relating to alleged wrongdoing in the instant case. But none of them volunteered to enter the witness-¬box.
The judge then poses the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore question - What does all this mean?

And he gives the answer himself – “Apparently, this means that nobody had any good or first-hand material in his possession”.

The judge does not spell it out, but the inference is obvious: it was all part of a mass hysteria, a baying for blood similar to the Roman amphitheaters. They blindly believed in the political propaganda, they were eager to send powerful politicians and wealthy businessmen behind the bars, even if innocent. It is the same mentality seen in the public lynching enacted in Dadri, Una and dozens of other dark corners of the country in recent years.

Judge Saini laments: I may also add that for the last about seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open Court from 10 AM to 5 PM, awaiting for someone with some legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain.
Not a single soul turned up. This indicates that everybody was going by public perception created by rumour, gossip, and speculation. Despite the fact that public perception has no place in judicial proceedings.

Dec 25, 2017


Raman Swamy [email protected]

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