The difference between 386 and 23 is 363 words

How does the mainstream English media in India report the alleged transgressions of one of its own?

S.N.M. Abdi, the Calcutta-based journalist who broke the “Bhagalpur Blindings” story in 1979-80 (in which police blinded 31 undertrials by pouring acid into their eyes) for M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday magazine, and now works for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, was arrested on Thursday on rape charges.

The incident got the most coverage in the Calcutta edition of The Times of India, and barely merited a paragraph in the eastern city’s older English dailies, The Telegraph and The Statesman.

Abdi, incidentally, was Calcutta bureau chief of  the now-defunct The Illustrated Weekly of India, the features magazine owned by The Times group, and was at the centre of the infamous J.B. Patnaik case in 1986 under the editorship of Pritish Nandy. “Shocking: The strange escapades of J.B. Patnaik,” the Weekly‘s cover story dealt with the deviant sexual life of the then Orissa chief minister. After a protracted legal battle, the Weekly apologised.

The Telegraph, Calcutta: 23 words; headline: “Rape arrest”

Deccan Herald, Bangalore: 49 words; “Journo held on rape charge”

The Hindu, Madras: 61 words; “Journalist held”

The Statesman, Calcutta: 67 words; “Journalist held”

The Hindustan Times, Delhi: 97 words; “Journalist arrested on rape charges”

DNA, Bombay: 231 words; “Senior journalist held for rape”

Indian Express, New Delhi: 346 words; “Senior scribe held for rape”

The Times of India, Calcutta: 386 words; headline: “Housewife lured with railway job, raped”


Update: S.N.M. Abdi was honourably acquitted of the rape charge in January 2011.

“I have gone through hell. My reputation built on 25 years as an investigative journalist has been destroyed by the concocted case. The judgement has vindicated my innocence and cemented my faith in the judiciary.” said Abdi.

The Times of India and The Indian Express published lengthy clarifications upon his acquittal.

Both newspapers clarified that Abdi was not named by the woman in her written complaint and that their stories were based on police briefings. Both newspapers also placed on record that there was no malice or mala fide intentions behind the publication of the charge in the first place.

While The Times of India expressed “sincere regret” for the adverse impression its report may have created, The Indian Express offered regret for the embarrassment caused to Abdi.

Screenshot 2019-05-11 11.30.28

Screenshot 2019-05-11 11.31.13

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy The Indian Express

Pranay Gupte on S.N.M. Abdi: ‘Marvelous young journalist’


  1. namenotgiven

    Kudos to you, for highlighting this. The media behaves like a drug cartel sometimes.

  2. Indian Dylan

    Abdi was always sick and he just proved it once again. He always thought he was law into himself. I hope the media now steps up and shows no mercy and ditto for the Law. The answer for Abdi is blowin’ in the jail.

    1. firdaus zehra

      how could you say this,actully the thing is that you are sick and suffering from the disease of jealousy.I know him since my childhood and one of the most important thing is that right now he is outside your prayer doesn’t work to keep him in the jail.God is alays in the favour of those who are innocent.You should be ashmed of yourself.

  3. newshound/ devdas

    We know that Abdi’s wife acctress Sreela Majumdar and their son stay in a different house in Kolkata. Why does Ms Majumdar/Abdi does not stay with her husband?


    By employing very powerful lawyer and even bribing others influential positions, as it happens in India, Mr Abdi can win a court verdict declaring that he is innocent…. all residents in Mr Abdi’s housing complex know that.

  4. aman

    Media has done injustice to this case of rape, possibly because of the good connections accused journalist Abdi and his wife Sreela Majumdar have with the media houses. Or, did Kolkata media feel embarrassed to highlight the case, since the accused was a journalist ? The Telegraph did just a 23-word story to report this case where the accused was a senior journalist. It’s not unknown that Abdi occasionally wrote for this newspaper. The Times of India did not mention at all in its version of the story that Abdi had been a staff journalist in its group for long years. DNA too did not choose to reveal that Abdi had written special reports for this newspaper some time back. Had the rapist been a police officer or a Bollywood actor like Shiney Ahuja, media would have surely taken a proactive role to follow up this case. Media is acting irresponsibly by going almost quiet on this rape and helping a slum-dwelling jobless woman be denied justice. Simply because of pressure from the Mumbai media Shiney Ahuja has not been able to come out of jail as yet. But Kolkata’s irresponsible media seem set to deny justice to a poor woman and make Abdi free

  5. dhurdhur

    The media should shut up and let law take its own course. Who are we to pass judgment?

  6. rohit basu

    this is the travesty of truth! snm abdi terrorises and then
    buys his rape victim! have people forgotten the case of zaheera
    sheikh? the kolkata police should file a case against asha agarawal
    for lying before the court. abdi is a known man to exploit women.
    he has purchased justice! he is communal and anti national. he has
    ruined the lives of many women in the world. all women rights
    organisation land also to rape women.ike than of teesta setalvad
    should protest. his marriage with his wife has been broken for
    decades because of his womanising. he uses the name of south china
    morning post to be a broker and earn money. here in kolkata he is
    known as a dalal.he is a man who shoud be in jail for life. it is
    dangerous for women if he is out again looking for another woman to

    1. jannat

      i don’t know what are you talkingabout but as far as its upto me i know this man from my childhood days,he is my real matternal uncle.and you don,t know any thing about his family.I know muslims are always think as worst people in the world.But he is not the man what you are saying.Before blaming anyone you should know the truth.Always remember “don,t always believe your ears and eyes try to go beyond it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.