The day started at a hectic pace at THE HUMSAFAR TRUST. Amidst all the din of daily work we were sending out mails , drafts of “letter of protests”. There were organisation letters as well as individual ones to be printed . There were flowers to be purchased and envelopes to be filled . We were all ready to counter TV9 against their reckless reporting of the social networking site Planet Romeo in Hyderabad.
[Editor’s Note : As circulated in QAM Google group. Gaysi would to like to congratulate QAM gang for their brilliant effort]
25th February 2011
TV 9 Protests- A QAM report
The day started at a hectic pace at THE HUMSAFAR TRUST. Amidst all the din of daily work we were sending out mails , drafts of "letter of protests". There were organisation letters as well as individual ones to be printed . There were flowers to be purchased and envelopes to be filled . We were all ready to counter TV9 against their reckless reporting of the social networking site Planet Romeo in Hyderabad.
Pallav , Sonal , Gautam ,Vivek Anand and Neelam left from Vakola at approximately 5 pm. We were already 30 minutes delayed. The way to the MIDC office was circuitous and were were scared that we would not find our way in time.
We stopped at the flower shops to purchase white roses. To our surprise they were dipped in a pink colour. So as luck would have it, we had white roses with pink centers, coincidence!!?
The traffic on the Western Express Highway had begun to build up. Thanks to the data technology and Google maps , we successfully maneuvered our way at dot 5.30 pm outside the TV9 office in MIDC, Andheri East. We queers are technology friendly aren’t we?
At 5.30 pm we were joined by Shobhna and Vikram Phukan . Geeta Kumana had already reached the venue and was ready with her flowers and her letter. We entered the gate of Silver House , TV9’s office and signed into their visitors register. They asked us , who we wished to meet and we answered that we would like to meet Mahendra Mishra, however they had no clue who he was. We mentioned that we would like to meet the head of the organisation and we were individuals as well as NGOs who wished to have a word with the channel head.
The following people then walked up , Pallav , Vivek , Shobhna , Phukan , Geeta,Gautam and Sonal. Neelam volunteered to wait below the TV9 offices to take care of the placards and other articles. We presented ourselves at the reception and again asked for Mahendra Mishra. The lady at the reception was a little scared looking at all of us with white flowers , letters , grins on our faces and the event of a sudden congregation in their reception. The lady informed us that she was not aware of any Mahendra Mishra on the floor , we hence asked for the head of the channel to present himself. She informed us that the channel head and the highest officer on the floor was Mr. Srivinas Reddy.
We waited in the lobby and were served water. We chatted , clicked pictures and grinned as we controlled our seething anger. In 10 minutes were were called into the meeting room , with a round table and about 4 chairs , we all chose to stand and talk. Mr.Srinivas Reddy entered the room and we could see that he was visibly upset and worried to see so many people in the meeting room. We had decided that one person will speak and I was nominated. I informed Mr. Reddy the reason for our presence in his office and our protest against the telecast of the TV9 report against gay men in Hyderabad. We also informed Mr.Reddy that the meeting was being video recorded on our personal camera.Even before I could complete my sentence , Mr. Reddy got into a defensive tone about trying to explain the report.
According to Mr. Reddy , the raw footage was a part of their archive and was a part of the "Nigah" collection. He mentioned that he also heads TV 9 Telegu and the telecast on TV 9 was an ACCIDENT? and an ERROR?. He mentioned that he was unaware that the raw footage was actually edited and put into their server and by mistake they actually telecast it. This was not an argument that we were ready to accept and all the people in the room then started speaking up.
We mentioned that if it were an accident then how come the same programme was re-telecast on TV 9 Kannada. He said he was unaware of that. We also asked that if it were just a report then why it was conducted in a sting format wherein people’s voice transcripts were telecast on the show. All the people raised issues in the room whether adequate consent was taken before telecast of this episode. Mr.Reddy argued that the intent of the report was to target some Telegu heroes who are into sex trade and the intent was to expose them through this report. Again this was countered by telling him that enough sex trade happens in Mumbai and there are ways to intervene blackmail and harassment , an expose such as this has not served any purpose but to raise TV 9 TRPs. He said that some of the people from within TV9 who were on the site decided to do this telecast. To which he was asked if what he wishes to say is that some of his team members were a part of the LGBT community to which he said , "yes maybe".
This was then countered saying that the report then could be personal vendetta though Planet Romeo and TV9 has only acted to the interests of these individuals fulfilling their vested interests. Mr. Reddy cringed at this statement and refused to agree to it.
Mr. Reddy tried to refute this argument , but by then we felt we had cornered him to a point where he could not meet us in the eye and stood in one corner. We then indicated that we had all come with our letters of protests to TV9. Each person individually handed him the letters of Protest and the white flowers . Letters of protest from QAM, INFOSEM,HST, Lakshya Trust and individuals present in the room were handed over to him. He was embarrassed and asked us to keep them on the table. We all however insisted that we give it to him personally, stating clearly that the particular act by TV 9 is a gross human rights violation.
We also offered that the community could come in and sensitize TV9 as to how to cover such news by way of Media advocacy workshops, to which Mr. Reddy sheepishly said that he was OK and that he would like to call us one day in the studio to have a discussion around this issue.
Post this discussion we all left the office and stepped out of the building compound. There were more people who had arrived by then and were getting ready to get into the TV 9 offices. We all stood opposite the TV 9 offices across the road and held our banners , our flags. Passers by looked at us, asked us why we were there. We posed in front of the TV 9 logo with our placards and our flags. From 5.30 pm to 7.15 pm , several protesters from the LGBT community walked through the security of the TV 9 office to register their protests and give them flowers. The security was upset and we were nuisance value , and yes that is what we wanted to be. We recorded several interaction with TV 9 on personal cameras . Hoping to get all the video clips, we have a volunteer who has agreed to make one giant clip of the whole event.
The entire event ended at 7.15 pm with a three cheers of QUEER AZADI ZINDABAD!