Rana Ayyub

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Rana Ayyub
Rana Ayyub in 2016
Born (1984-05-01) 1 May 1984 (age 34)
OccupationJournalist, Author, Columnist

Rana Ayyub is an Indian journalist and writer. She is the author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up.[1]

Background and family[edit]

Rana Ayyub was born in Mumbai, India. Her father was a writer with Blitz, a Mumbai-based magazine and an important member of the progressive writers movement. The city witnessed riots in 1992-93, during which time the family moved to the Muslim-dominant suburb of Deonar, which is where Rana largely grew up.

Rana Ayyub at TimesLit Fest 2016, New Delhi.


Rana's worked for Tehelka (lit. "commotion/uproar"), a Delhi-based investigative and political news magazine. Rana has previously been critical of the BJP in general and Narendra Modi.[2] By her own account, a report done by Rana Ayyub was instrumental in sending Amit Shah, a close associate of Narendra Modi, to jail for several months in 2010.[citation needed]

At Tehelka, Rana worked as an investigative journalist and her big assignment was to carry out the sting operation upon which her book Gujarat Files was based. At the end of the sting operation, the management of Tehelka refused to publish any story written by Rana or based on the data collected by her. Rana continued to work with Tehelka for several months more. In November 2013, her boss Tarun Tejpal, the editor-in-chief and major shareholder of Tehelka, was accused of sexual harassment by one of his journalist subordinates. Rana Ayyub resigned from Tehelka at this point, to protest against the organization's way of handling the sexual assault charge against its editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal.[2][3] She now works independently.[4][5][6]

The Gujarat sting operation[edit]

As an investigative journalist working with Tehelka, Rana Ayyub took up a project after her own heart: to conduct a prolonged sting operation aimed at snaring politicians and government officials of Gujarat and get them to spill the beans regarding the Gujarat riots of 2002. Rana assumed a fake identity as a Hindu girl named Maithili Tyagi, got face identification documents made in that name, and set about befriending her intended targets. She spent around ten months in disguise, and got paid a regular monthly salary from Tehelka during this period. However, at the end of the exercise, the management of Tehelka felt that the recordings which she had made over the months did not provide any new or sensational information, that the data gathered by her was of inadequate quality, and that they could not publish any story on the basis of the new data.

The book[edit]

In her book Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, Ayyub documented the verbatim transcripts of recordings, made using a concealed recording device, of many bureaucrats and police officers of Gujarat. The recordings were made in the course of an undercover investigation to reveal the views of bureaucrats and police officers on the post-2002 Gujarat riots and Police encounter killings. Ayyub had been posing as Maithili Tyagi, a student of the American Film Institute, having an ideological affinity for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's beliefs, to enable her to make the recordings.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Dispute with Tehelka[edit]

Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury have disputed Ayyub's claim that her story on fake encounters in Gujarat, which was the result of an eight-month long undercover investigation, was dropped by them. According to Tejpal, Ayyub's story was "incomplete".[15] According to Chaudhury, Ayyub's story "did not meet the necessary editorial standards."[15] Ayyub has responded to Tejpal and Chaudhury's assertions by noting that:

I must say I am not the only one to complain about dropped stories in Tehelka, the list is fairly big...Shoma Choudhury and Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka cited editorial decisions and gaps. The book is a bestseller and is getting rave reviews for its content. Let the reader be the judge.[15][10]

Critical appreciation[edit]

Ramachandra Guha has called Ayyub's Gujarat Files "a brave book."[16] Jyoti Malhotra has noted that many journalists have privately applauded Ayyub's courage in authoring Gujarat Files.[17] Priya Ramani has commented: "The abuses from the paid foot soldiers on Twitter bounce off her spiral curls smoothly."[18] Reflecting on the procedure used by Ayyub in composing Gujarat Files, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay has observed: "Going undercover and interviewing many who had been in the thick of gruesome extra-constitutional operations required bravado and this must be appreciated."[12]

Ayyub's investigation of the alleged Gujarat fake encounters has been listed by Outlook magazine as one of the twenty greatest magazine stories of all time across the world.[19] In the year 2018 Rana Ayyub was rewarded the most Resilient Global journalist at the Peace Palace in Hague. Rana was given the award for demonstrating extraordinary courage and perseverance to bring the news. Each year the honour is awarded to a journalists who, despite threats, abductions and violence continues the journalistic work.{https://thekashmirpress.com/2018/11/05/journalist-rana-ayyub-wins-most-resilient-journalist-award-for-2018/}

Awards and recognition[edit]

  1. In October 2011, Rana Ayyub received the Sanskriti award for excellence in journalism.[20]
  2. The 'Citation of Excellence' was confered to Rana Ayyub in the 2017 edition of the Global Shining Light Award for her undercover investigation revealing state’s top officials’ complicity during the 2002 Gujarat Riots.[21]
  3. Actress Richa Chadda claimed to have been inspired by Rana Ayyub, who is also her friend, in 2016 film Chalk n Duster, where she plays a journalist.[22]


  1. ^ Ayyub, Rana (May 25, 2016). "A Lone Soldier In The Field: An Excerpt From Rana Ayyub's "Gujarat Files: Anatomy Of A Cover Up"". The Caravan. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "DNA takes down article critical of Amit Shah". Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Tehelka scandal: Senior editor Rana Ayyub quits in protest". Firstpost.
  4. ^ "Rana Ayyub – Author". NDTV. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  5. ^ "We didn't run Rana Ayyub's Gujarat riots story because it was incomplete: Tarun Tejpal". Firstpost. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Rana Ayyub". Daily News & Analysis. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  7. ^ "How Rana Ayyub had to become Maithili Tyagi for her investigations in Gujarat".
  8. ^ "Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up".
  9. ^ "Gujarat Gazetteer, By Maithili Tyagi". Outlook. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  10. ^ a b "On the trail of the real culprits". Frontline. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Book review: Gujarat Files". Mint. 4 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Gujarat Files: Rana Ayyub and stinging truths". Business Standard. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Business Standard June 2016" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  13. ^ "Gujarat Files: Sting claims political pressure in Gujarat riots". Indian Express. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  14. ^ "What the Silence Over Rana Ayyub's 'Gujarat Files' Tells Us". The Wire. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "We didn't run Rana Ayyub's Gujarat riots story because it was incomplete: Tarun Tejpal".
  16. ^ "Divide and win-The Sanjay Gandhi of this age". The Telegraph. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Mainstream media turns away from "Gujarat Files"". The Hoot. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  18. ^ "The self-publishing story of dust and dreams". Mint. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  19. ^ "The 20 Greatest Magazine Stories". Outlook. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Sanskriti awards to Kashmiri writer, sarangi maestro". Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Rana Ayyub received Citation of Excellence in Global Shining Light Award for 'Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Coverup'". The Shahab. 2017-11-18. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  22. ^ [1]

External links[edit]