Shiv Viswanathan, a professor at Jindal Law School has come under criticism for copying reportage by a young journalist and appropriating it. Writer and reporter Sushmita Verma have, in a social media post questioned the author about his copying her report, publishing it in the national daily, the Hindu without accreditation and leaving out important details from it so as to suit his subject.
The article in question is ‘The ‘everydayness’ of our violence’ written by Viswanathan and published in the Hindu on May 10, 2016. Ms. Verma had seen the write-up and a large chunk of her own reporting in there. She wrote to Viswanathan and the Hindu regarding the same.
Sushmita’s piece was published in a blog on May 3, 2015, under the title ‘The relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s unheard story.’
Ms. Verma spoke about these incidents in the context of Viswanathan’s recent article titled ‘The Chilly Justice Of The Gulag’ that spoke disparagingly about the list of academics who stood accused of sexual harassment that Raya Sarkar had brought out.
Sushmita was questioning his eligibility to speak about women and consent while he himself was guilty of stealing from junior women reporters like herself and using a story on a young tribal woman and the violence she was subjected to, to suit the needs of his article.
When she wrote to the author and the newspaper she had underlined how removing the report on the violence faced by Kawasi Hidme, an Adivasi girl from Bastar, Chattisgarh, Viswanathan had ‘sanitized’ it. ‘You have erased her context which is a paramount factor in the kind of atrocities that are perpetrated on her. You treat it merely as a case study of one form of violence,’ her letter said.
She had also pointed out how Viswanathan had erased the contributions of Jagdalpur Legal Aid group (JagLag) an organization that has helped the Adivasis of Bastar region to bring their stories out. JagLag also provides legal aid to Adivasis put in prison charging them with false cases. Viswanathan’s erasure of JagLag was disrespectful to their work in Bastar, she had said.
Verma’s letter requested Viswanathan to ‘write a fresh piece with an acknowledgment to the original sources or an addendum’ citing the original article. Neither the author nor the newspaper responded to her.