We live in an age where the sharing of information has been so greatly democratised, that it’s possible to share experiences, thoughts and views from anywhere across the world. But what happens when the information shared is more claim than fact? Columnist and author Shobhaa De found herself confronting such a situation, when on August 11, the former Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, said in an interview to a Pakistani blogger, that it was he who convinced De to write favourably on the issue of Kashmir’s self-determination. He added that after he “met” and “explained” his views to her, she wrote a column with the sentence, “Now the time has come to resolve this issue once and for all through a plebiscite.”
The column alleged to contain the sentence appeared in a national daily in 2016, in the wake of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani.
The statements incensed De, who, through a video shared by a news agency on Twitter, refuted the ex-envoy’s claims, saying that “it was very important to nail lies... Especially when it comes from a despicable man who is making up a story to discredit not just me but India as well.” She revealed that the only time she had met him was in January this year, at a publishing party that was part of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and said, “He came and joined a small group, attempted a conversation, was snubbed and almost as good as asked to leave… That was the first and last time I ever encountered this man.” She went on to say that she was, “deeply insulted and upset that he [Basit] could dare to say something like that about a person who has built her career on credibility and positive good journalism for over 40 years.”
The video immediately garnered a barrage of comments. While De’s column doesn’t actually contain the verbatim sentence credited to it by Basit, the nature of the comments that greeted the video were mean. Not only was De’s writing, intellect and credibility questioned, it was also her patriotism and nationality that got dragged into the discussion, with some accusing her of “selling your soul for Pakistani Money” and being a “Pakistani stooge.”
Worse still were some tweets like “I believe her?? Absolutely Most such Indians are dumb enough to write stupid things on their own, particularly on issues they don’t have even faintest of idea.
Our pseudo-liberals don’t need any Pakistani inspiration to write shit.” @ Yashwant Deshmukh...