And They Preached, Don't Spread Rumours...

Published: Wednesday, Aug 22,2012, 00:50 IST
communal, internet rumours, north east exodus, azad maidan mumbai, lucknow violence, tweets, news editors, ibtl

After the unfortunate failure of law and order in Asom followed by the massive loss of lives and property over the past five weeks, there has been a lot of talk about responsibility. This extends to text and audio/video messages over your phone, and also social media like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc. There is a big crackdown happening with up to 250 websites getting the big government scissor right now. The number is increasing every few hours. Being responsible is an awesome topic and it is a must for anyone who wants to live in a harmonious, multi-cultural society. There's absolutely nothing one can say against being responsible.

But our problem is not the preaching part. But the people who are preaching. To be specific the tainted faces of Indian media, who have occupied a moral high seat at this crucial juncture.

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One such “stalwart” preaching over off late is this woman, Sagarika Ghose. A TV anchor and someone who holds a top post in a media company in India. Someone who is from a family that is very well connected to the establishment. And how was she blasted by one of India's most well known Supreme Court lawyer? Watch:-

sagarika, ram jethmalani

Following are some absolutely hilarious, yet slamming statements from Ram Jethmalani from that video, making Sagarika look like the dumbest interviewer one can find -

“Who is the hell is the press to decide who is indefensible? ”

“In trying to determinate and declaring to the people, is guilty of the highest form of contempt”

“Please recognize your limits

“The worst contempt you can commit is the contempt of prejudicing mankind or public mind against a person who is standing in his trial for life“

“Who the HELL are you to decide?”

“Don't jump at conclusions, it is none of your business”

“You are talking nonsense... you are going against the court, you are trying to become the court, you are NOT the court, please understand this”

“press is fighting for injustice

“all this bullshit will not convince me at all”

“you are not the judges of this country and for God's sake stop becoming the judges

“that is very stupid and a big lie”

“I am angry with you for the simple reason that you are creating a hype that he is guilty”

After hearing to this for 9 minutes, you will start wondering if the entire Indian media is as dumb as Sagarika made herself look in this interview? Do they really conduct kangaroo courts and insinuate against a particular party of their choice? Do they jump into conclusions looking very stupid? Do they cross their limits?

Or essentially... is Indian TV media and the people who are the face of it, in forefront of spreading rumours, half-truths and outright lies, irresponsibly?

It seems yes, if you look a wider list of case studies. Let us present you a few here:-

March 2012 Bengaluru Lawyer-Police-Media Clash: A Kannada TV channel, Suvarna News on 2nd March 2012 at 3.41 PM flashed, "Lingappa, the constable who was injured badly, succumbs".

communal harmony Hyderabad, azad maidan mumbai, paid media, fake tweets
Samaya TV, another Kannada channel, even went a step and reported three police constables' death at 5:12 PM on the same day.

communal harmony Hyderabad, azad maidan mumbai, paid media, fake tweets
India Today, a reputed national level English magazine in India, followed the same kind of “news” about a cop dying. Actually, their website even today says the same.

The reality per the police commissioner Mirji, was different. No cop had died when Lawyers and Media clashed at Bengaluru court premises! But media got away spreading death rumours, that too of a police, during the most volatile period of clashes in the city. Was that responsibility?

Hyderabad April 2012 Violence: Bengaluru lawyer-police-media clash was not an isolated event. In Hyderabad, there was violence on 8th of April 2012. When the city was tense due to communal clashes, a news editor of ANI, a leading multimedia news agency of India, sent out a very irresponsible rumour tweet.

Her insinuation was the just because Pravin Togadia, the VHP leader, was in Hyderabad on Friday, communal violence happened on Saturday (actually it happened on Sunday for most part). And her “source”? Facebook! Clearly this was displaying yet another incident of what Ram Jethmalani was slamming media for. They try to arrive at conclusions themselves, and decide in their own kangaroo courts or other “debates”, whom to blame. No police, evidence, trial, counter evidence, and judgment necessary in a court of law at all. Person A was in a city on Friday and he “caused” riots on Saturday. And this “responsible” journalist was totally wrong on her claim of “years of calm” also, as just a week before April 8th riot, Hyderabad had seen communal clashes. So much for her credibility!

Asom 2012, the bloodiest riot of 2012 so far: Oh, let's get back to our dearest Sagarika Ghose. She went even a step further during the worst riot in India of 2012, where 77 people died and close to 4,00,000 were made homeless, to squarely blame that “land disputes of complex Asom being pushed into a religious narrative by Internet Hindus

First of all her term 'Internet Hindu' is usually used in a derogatory way to snub anyone who does not peddle or accept her pseudo-secular narrative. Secondly, most 'Internet Hindus' that we saw on social media were saying it was a clash between Indians and illegal Bangladeshis. It just happens that Indians in this case were Hindus, animist tribes and Christians who were together lumped in as Bodos. The illegal Bangladeshis were mostly Muslim, if not all. This event was discussed elaborately even in the parliament, so we need get into the composition of riot sides. But just look at the way a senior journalist openly insinuated that what happened in Asom was mostly a 'land dispute', during the most volatile period! We are sure, she learnt the hard lessons when two and half weeks later, Mumbai muslims rioted against Asom violence, openly declaring to the entire country that Sagarika's 'land dispute' line was far from being the only reason.

August 2012 Pune Blasts:  From Bengaluru to Hyderabad to Asom, we saw three cases of open rumour mongering or half-truth peddling by media stalwarts. How did they behave when serious bomb blasts happened? IBN Lokmat's Ashish Dikshit went one step further openly spreading a seemingly rumour information that 'Hindu extremist outfit' was likely responsible for Pune blasts!

Here are some serious details. Low intensity Pune blasts happened on 1st August Wednesday evening. And our dearest Ashish went on social media insinuating a 'Hindu extremist outfit' at 7.16 PM, 2nd August (screen-shot above was using a member's twitter status, while he is 12.5 hours behind India)! How ridiculously fast his 'investigation' or 'source' was.. I am afraid even after 20 days, police are still investigating and the most likely culprit is Indian Mujahideen.In fact, even right at the time of Ashish's potential rumour, PTI was telling the country something else. We wonder it is easy for journalists to get away with rumours on even the most serious topics like blasts...

August 2012 Mumbai Violence:  Now that we covered three cities and one state, how about the big daddy of all, aamchi Mumbai?

We know that a very disturbing vandalism happened on 11th August Saturday. More than 50 police men and women were injured based on reports, when Raza Academy sponsored goons went on violent rampage attacking public property and law enforcement people. And on 19th August 2012, Sunday evening, out of no-where, Padmaja Joshi of Headlines Today TV came to social media telling that a pregnant constable Jaya Kamble was assaulted by rioters in Mumbai (on 11th), and she died along with an ACP Dadekar. With such a disturbing news given by a media person, obviously people started talking about it left and right. It became a huge emotional topic for online people to talk about between 4.30 PM and 5 PM. After 30 minutes or so, she came back to inform that it was false news and asked people to spread that information also. Some more people started saying the same, but the huge damage was already done. In fact, we are not sure if there was ever an injured policewoman named Jaya Kamble! We heard that Aaj Tak, another TV channel linked to Headlines Today, did beam similar information the same evening. Irresponsibility anyone?

communal harmony Hyderabad, azad maidan mumbai, paid media, fake tweets
August 2012 Lucknow Violence: Let's move to north India now.. Ashish Tripathi of Times of India wrote a gem. "50 people dressed as Muslims" wearing skull caps and scarves, created ruckus in the crowded Hazratganj area violence soon after Friday prayer. This was his reasoning for the shameful Lucknow vandalism. Was it really Mr. “journalist” Tripathi?

communal harmony Hyderabad, azad maidan mumbai, paid media, fake tweets
Intelligence sources totally differ though. They were investigating the banned outfit of SIMI as being responsible for the Lucknow violence of 17th August 2012. In fact reports show that 10,000 people assembled near Tile Wali Mosque, prayed and then took a protest march to Hazratganj, which turned violent as instigated. Soon many video and picture links of Buddha statue being desecrated and vandalism being perpetrated was out for people to see. When 50 people “dressed as Muslims” as informed by Ashish Tripathi, turns out to be 10,000 people as reported by Daily Bhaskar, any neutral observer can easily spot who was trying to spread totally nonsensical and communal rumour. The intention was obviously to blame the non-Muslims of Lucknow for last Friday's violence, in the most “secular” way possible. Unfortunately, yet another media rumour got away, without any reprimanding or punishment.

Just see the audacity of these media rumours on such very serious topics. They remorselessly “kill” police people in Bengaluru and Mumbai. They “judge” that a particular person caused Hyderabad riots. They “investigate” that a particular religious group is behind Pune blasts. And they “deduce” that land disputes are the reason for a horrendous riot in Asom, and not religion or illegal migration. And they even turn into instant Sherlock Holmes identifying 50 rioters “dressed as Muslims” in Lucknow.

...while preaching to Indians, particularly to those on social media, to be “responsible” and not to spread rumours. Wow!

Author : Kiran KS | Follow the writer on twitter/KiranKS
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Disclaimer: The author is a commentator on issues of national interest. These are his personal views and do not necessarily reflect IBTL's opinion.

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