Sunday 28 May 2023

When Memory of Politics Turns Into Politics of Memory: The Sujay Gupta Case

Today May 28, 2023 I received certificate of participation in Konkani literature competition organised by Herald Konkani Daiz editors Vincy Quadros and Fr. Myron Jeson Barreto. I had submitted a Poem in Konkani. I received my certificate from the hands of Herald Chief Editor Sujay Gupta in the presence of former Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro.

I met Sujay Gupta for the first time after all the turbulence from June 2008 onwards. Sujay and I were both part of that turbulence (but on opposite sides) triggered by mining greed wanting to silence voices articulating dissent at This piece of writing is motivated by my meeting with Sujay Gupta at the award ceremony at Fernandes House near International Centre, Dona Paula.

When questioned Sujay Gupta was in denial mode on controversial role he played between June 2008 right up to middle of 2009 in repressing opposition to mining in Goa in his capacity as Vice-President (Communications) of Sociedade de Fomentos. He has gone on such drastic denial overdrive that he even denies his even presence in Goa until late December 2008.

When I reminded him about certain facts he claims that he doesn't remember. Yet he remembers that I am associated with GAKUVED whose blog he targeted with defamation suit at Calcutta High Court for 500 crore rupees. But that was last thing he did as corporate shotgun before moving to start Goan, newspaper of the Fomentos which he remembers, admits, regrets as mistake of his life and all this because there is his name - on records. And if the records were not put out in public domain he would have denied that too. All the mercenary work that he did for mining industry without leaving trace of his name he denied to me! It is precisely because of his denials today to several facts an effort is warranted to bring all the facts on record here so that history is not presented in distorted manner. In this  situation my life is a document of history.

Sujay Gupta took over as an Editor of English newspaper in Goa named Gomantak Times that has ownership history with Chowgules in Goa and Sakal group in Maharashtra. Sujay Gupta's enterprising policies added dynamism that was visible in public domain that time around 2006 or 2007 onwards. He established reputation for himself and was soon popular. It has to be checked in archives as to when he took over as an editor of Gomantak Times and when did he leave. Any of you'll can do this and post it as comment below.

The first encounter

My first encounter with Sujay Gupta was on telephone call he made to me on June 05, 2008. That day GAKUVED had organised World Environment Day Program at Don Bosco Farm house premises in Sulcorna, South Goa. I was traveling to the venue in Car with Dr. Claude Alvares. I answered his call thinking that he is speaking to me in his capacity as Journalist. He asked me if village people and others from all over Goa are going to attack the Mines directly on June 05, 2008. I replied him negatively. Then he questioned me whether I know CPI-ML. I said yes I know and Kavita Krishnan is good friend of mine. At that moment I did not find anything suspicious in his questions and I answered them as matter of fact. He did not come for the program nor published my interview anywhere but he channeled information he got from me to some strategy team operating clandestine to suppress dissent against mining. Program was good and even Architect Kamalakant Sadhale was present with large number of local people. At later reflections I realized that Sujay Gupta had read my interview with Rajaram CPI-ML General Secretary, Jharkhand on openspaceforum blog. This information was passed on to Manohar Parrikar who shared it at the Public Hearing of Legislature sub-committee of Home Ministry tagging me as Naxalite on June 19, 2008.

The second encounter

I received phone call at 9.30 pm on June 19, 2008 from Derek Almeida, Editor of Gomantak Times informing me that I have been accused of being Naxalite by the Leader of the Opposition Manohar Parrikar. He said none of the journalists knew me and were surprised to know about my alleged Naxalite activities in mining belt. Derek informed me that he finally received my contact number from Dr. Claude Alvares. Derek requested me to meet him and his colleagues at Gomantak Times next day.

Next day was June 20, 2008. I picked up the copy of Gomantak Times and found my photograph printed on front page with a story headlined "Parrikar targets anti-mining activist". I read through story found something strange with my photo on front page. Photo was doctored and fangs were inserted in my mouth. I visited Gomantak Times office and met Editor Derek Almeida. First thing I brought to his attention about my photo on front page thst shows fangs in my mouth. I opened my mouth and let him do check up to find out the fangs. He couldn't find any. He then disclosed to me that it was Sujay Gupta who had shared that picture with all media offices. He told me that Sujay Gupta was earlier with Gomantak Times but recently has joined Fomento mining company. I wasn't aware of recent change in his status of employment and I had shared information in good faith under the impression that he was still a journalist. It was a betrayal of trust. Derek further had informed me that Sujay had emailed my pictures seated with students from Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work in Mumbai misrepresenting them as naxalites from Jharkhand. Later when Sujay came to know about the identity of these four students he wrote to the Principal of the college and protested their students visit to mining sites in Goa.

Derek then requested his Chief reporter at Gomantak Times Vithaldas Hegde to interview me. Hegde interviewed me for five hours non-stop but made sure he published not even five sentences from that interview. Interview was totally blacked out. Few years later when I questioned Hegde about it he told me that he lost his notepad! Currently Hegde is Chief Reported at Herald where Sujay Gupta is Editor. You can draw your own inferences. I have stated facts.

On June 21, 2008 at 3.00 pm Pravin Sabnis called press conference in which I was called to face the media at Tourist hostel in Panjim. Several media reprentatives were present for this press conference and amongst them was Sujay Gupta. Several media personnel questioned me and I answered them. I remember question asked by Sujay Gupta: Where was I working in New Delhi. I answered him that I worked at CACIM at A-3, Defence Colony. Sujay Gupta scribbled these details on a piece on his notepad.

At around 4.00 pm on the same day of June 21, 2008 there was another press conference organised by Sujay Gupta for Venkatesh Prabhudesai who attempted to tarnish my reputation with baseless allegations. Next day June 22, 2008 reports of both the press conferences were published. On this day it became a public knowledge that Sujay Gupta has joined Fomentos who were running several Mines in Goa with Hiralal Khodidas mining lease being in focus due to documented destruction of agriculture and protests from local people of Colomba.

Third Encounter

On November 12, 2008 locals and others from across Goa marched Hiralal Khodidas mining site. Sujay Gupta was on site on this day supervising lathicharge carried on by company's security agency causing injuries to many including to Gajanan Raikar, then executive committee member of GAKUVED.

Fourth Encounter

Protests against mining industry continued and reached its peak. It is at this moment on December 24, 2008 that Sujay Gupta filed civil defamation suit against me for 500 crore at Calcutta High Court in his official capacity as Vice-President (Communications) of Fomento mining company. It is amongst the highest claimed amounts in India. Petition is listed on Calcutta High Court website but hasn't come up for hearing since September 2009 after three Hearings.

Hostile reception

Sujay Gupta received hostile reception at several places in Goa. He was thrown out from Times of India first anniversary party by late Wendel Rodricks the fashion designer. Writer Hartman de Sousa launched online signature campaign against him with over 1,200 people signing and commenting. Floriano Lobo of Goa Su-Raj Party organised public protest meeting near then Sujay Gupta's residence in Moira village. Venita Coelho has been vocal in her writings against Sujay Gupta due to his alliance with mining industry.

In 2012 Sujay Gupta started off GOAN as weekly for Fomentos, then turned it as daily and then got into Herald. One man who publicly protested  then against Sujay Gupta taking over as Editor of Herald is Anthony D'Silva from Ambelim, Assolna.

Fresh encounter

This is memory of politics outlined here so that politics of memory is firmly grounded as and when it is activated. This piece is prepared after Sujay put himself in denial mode in communications with me today as mentioned above. Next time if Sujay Gupta goes in denial mode this has to be brought to his attention.

In my today's conversations with him I found him not honest. That's the reason for me to be honest and bold. For we are both connected in the opposites. Can Sujay Gupta turn honest too and afford honest conversation? Or will he be forever fugitive to his own deep self? What are those people called when they refuse to be honest and persist in denial? Let Sujay Gupta be the privilege one to answer this at his calling after deep pondering. 

May God Bless Sujay Gupta!

Sebastian Rodrigues 

No comments:

Post a Comment