The assassination plot, which was busted in Bengaluru recently, had three media persons on their target list. It was stated at the time of the investigation that a group of nearly 18 youths had decided on targeting three journalists for their alleged proximity to pro-Hindu groups.
Vishweshwar Bhat, editor-in-chief of Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News 24x7 Channel, was one among the three journalists on the hit-list. The other two were columnist Prathap Simha and media baron Vijay Sankeshwar.
Bhat says that he does not understand still why he was on the hit list. In this interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Bhatt says that the tag of 'pro-Hindu journalist' given to him was not fair. He also points out that someone who has a problem with him should retort with a pen and not with a gun.
Were you surprised to see your name in the hit list of these youth?
Yes, I was very surprised. It is still an enigma for me as to why I was targeted. They had even targeted columnist Pratap Simha. Speaking for Simha, I would say that he does not mince words; he always writes on facts. He has a nationalistic perspective of looking at things and that cannot be misconstrued as anti-minority. I have always believed in giving equal coverage to every view point. Everything that we write is based on facts and not fiction.
Why do you think you were targeted?
In the two decades that I have been in journalism, I have not written articles which intend to spread hate. I am believer of objectivity and social unity. It has hurt me no doubt that I was being targeted due to the misconception of a few youth. I am a journalist and sometimes what we write may not be acceptable to all. Let there be a debate and let them criticise. Let them use the pen to hit back at me if they are upset. Taking the gun is not the right option.
People say that you are pro-Hindu and pro-BJP.
People say a lot many things. But at the end of the day I am a journalist. It was me and my team, which exposed the various scams in the BJP government in Karnataka. Many in the BJP have a problem with what I write and despite this, I am called pro-BJP?
I believe that journalism should be pro-people and every media should voice the opinion of every individual. I have had the same policy everywhere I have worked. I do not and cannot distort the views of the public. I worked as the editor of Vijaya Karnataka. If I had distorted the public opinion then I guess it would not have reached the position that it did.
According to the youths who were arrested, you were close to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and were spreading his agenda.
My association with Narendra Modi is nothing special as is being made out to be. When he was in Bengaluru, I did go and meet him as a journalist. What is wrong in that? Any journalist would want to meet him or any other leader of importance. There was a picture that was taken during that meeting and I do not know how it started being circulated on the Internet, especially on the social media. This has created a misconception for many. To tell you the truth, I have tried to bring Modi to my studio for an interview many times. But that has not happened.
There was a journalist involved in the assassination plot. How does that make you feel?
It is a scary trend. This journalist, I have never met or even heard of him. I guess penetrating into the media is one of the new strategies being adopted by these youths. I think he has taken a safe short cut to carry out his mission and unfortunately he has been misguided by others.
Karnataka, which is relatively a peaceful state, has seen such a dangerous trend emerge.
It is a sad development. We should not soft peddle on such issues and the guilty should be punished thus setting a precedent.
What do you think these youths were trying to achieve?
They wanted to do something very big and they picked their targets carefully. Had they managed to eliminate three of us, it would have become a major issue and would have given them limelight.
Has this affected you?
I am not dithered by such threats. It has not affected me at all. However, it does pain me to see that such elements are getting into the fraternity.
What are your thoughts about Hindutva?
Being pro-Hindu does not mean you are anti-Muslim. It is a misconception that people have. Hindutva preaches love for the nation and not just love for Hindus.