Weeks after the The Tribune reported on the breach of details of more than one billion Aadhaar cards, its editor, Harish Khare has put in his papers. His three-year term was coming to a close in May this year.
The Tribune’s investigative story on data breach—that came out at a time when the Supreme Court was hearing a case on the privacy and security aspects of Aadhaar—was seen as a major embarrassment to the Modi government.
After the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) lodged an FIR against the newspaper and its reporter Rachna Khaira over the Aadhaar data breach report, Khare had refused to bow down. “‘The Tribune will explore all legal options to defend its freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism", he had said in a note published on the newspaper’s website, in response to the FIR.
Senior journalists and commentators reacted angrily to the news of Khare’s resignation.
“We need to be thankful to the authorities for re-introducing a dash of passion and energy and anger into the heart of every single Rachna Khaira who is out there in every single newsroom. We need to be thankful to the authorities for being so clumsy, so bureaucratic and so haughty – because responsible journalism never felt as joyful as it does this afternoon,” Khare had said in his keynote address at an event in Delhi on the ‘Right to Investigate’ on January 10.
Sources at The Tribune told National Herald that the Delhi bureau head of the newspaper, KV Prasad is going to be officiating editor. It’s also being speculated that Sanjaya Baru, former editor-in-chief of Business Standard and one-time media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will take over as the editorial head of The Tribune. However, National Herald wasn’t able to confirm this, at the time of writing.
Lika Barua, Khare has served as media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, from 2009 to 2012. Prior to that he worked with several English dailies including The Hindu, Hindustan Times and The Times of India in editorial positions.
Khare reportedly announced his resignation during a morning meeting with the paper’s senior staff members on Thursday. He joined The Tribune in June 2015.
Khare had offered to quit last year also in protest against a three-column apology that The Tribune published on the front page for publishing reports on former SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s alleged involvement in the drug trade. The Tribune is currently headed by Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, NN Vohra. Vohra took charge after the former head of the Trust Justice SS Sodhi was reportedly forced to quit over the publication of the apology.