Hyderabad; Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on Sunday lashed out at media for “demonising” the entire Muslim community whenever bomb blasts occurred, and declared that he would not allow it to do such “devilish” things.
Whenever bomb blasts occurred, television channels start showing, within an hour, that an e-mail or SMS had come either from the Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed or the Harkat-ul-Jihad, claiming responsibility.
Justice Katju was addressing a symposium on “Reporting terror: how sensitive is the media?” organised by The Hindu here.
Pointing out that an SMS or e-mail could be sent by any mischievous person, he said when TV channels showed them and the print media published it the next day, the message they were sending was that all Muslims were terrorists and that “they have nothing to do except to throw bombs.”
Terming it a “totally irresponsible behaviour” which promoted communalism, he asked: “Do you have freedom to spread communalism.” He would not allow media to do “such devilish things. You will have to have responsibility in national interest.”
Freedom was not absolute and every freedom was subjected to reasonable restriction in public interest.
Unfortunately, Muslims were discriminated against in various spheres, including jobs, getting bank loans and houses on rent. “You must address these problems.”
Justice Katju cited poverty, injustice and discrimination as the main causes of terrorism and called for creating a just social order. There was discrimination against minorities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This would give rise to injustice and, therefore, to terrorism. Terrorism could not be eliminated until poverty and discrimination were abolished.
Blames the British
He said the British decided the policy of divide and rule after the 1857 Mutiny and made Hindus and Muslims fight against each other. This poison was injected year after year until it resulted in a fake partition. He described Pakistan as a “fake” country and expressed the hope that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would be re-united in 20 years.
The event was moderated by the Editor of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan, and Nalsar University Vice-Chancellor Faizan Mustafa, Cyberabad Police Commissioner Dwaraka Tirumala Rao and civil liberties leader G. Haragopal were the panel members. They focused on the trends in media, the electronic media in particular, on reporting terror-related incidents.
The panel members called for caution and restraint while reporting such incidents, as there were concerns that over-reporting of crime was in a way serving the purpose of the perpetrators. They wanted the media to ensure that it was not used as a propaganda tool by extremists whose aim was to strike terror in the minds of people.