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Pathankot terrorists who sparked ban on NDTV India may never have existed

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Wednesday, ordered NDTV India off-air through November 9, saying its broadcast “revealed strategically sensitive details”.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: November 5, 2016 4:07 am
ndtv, ndtv ban, ndtv off air, ndtv ban reaction, bjp ndtv ban, political parties on ndtv ban, india news The Government claims NDTV India correspondent had potentially compromised national security by saying, in a January 4 near-live broadcast, that “two terrorists are alive, and there is a weapons depot near where they are.

THE Government’s decision to order a punitive black-out of NDTV India, for disclosing allegedly sensitive information on the Pathankot airbase attack, pertains to a group of two terrorists who investigators are yet to conclude actually existed, records with The Indian Express show.


The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Wednesday, ordered NDTV India off-air through November 9, saying its broadcast “revealed strategically sensitive details”. The Government claims NDTV India correspondent had potentially compromised national security by saying, in a January 4 near-live broadcast, that “two terrorists are alive, and there is a weapons depot near where they are. The soldiers, the National Security Guard officers, who are exchanging fire with the terrorists, are concerned that if the terrorists reach the weapons depot, it will be difficult to eliminate them”.

The bodies of these terrorists were, however, not recovered from the burned-out building where they were suspected to be hiding. No weapons or ammunition were found in the building either. Four terrorists had been killed earlier during the attack.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had, on March 16, 2016, told Parliament that forensics tests on charred material found in the building “makes it clear that those inside the building were two terrorists”. However, in its May 21 issue, this newspaper reported Indian and international forensics experts, who studied the forensic tests, obtained exclusively by The Indian Express, as saying the samples appeared to be inconclusive, and bearing signs of contamination.

The reports failed to corroborate government claims that the charred material recovered from the Pathankot base were the remains of two unidentified terrorists. They only showed that there was male DNA in the remains — but gave no indication of how many individuals the genetic material came from, nor that it came from two distinct males. The charred remains, tests showed, inexplicably contained genetic material from multiple individuals.

The National Investigations Agency had, on March 21 — five days after the Home Minister’s statement — issued a notice seeking information on the “terrorists who were killed inside Air Force Station Pathankot while they were carrying out terrorist attack on 2nd January 2016”. This document, though, only used four photographs.
NIA documents shared with Pakistani investigators who visited India to study the case also referred to only four terrorists, all killed before January 4.

Rule 6(1)(P) of the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act makes it illegal for Indian news broadcasters to transmit live coverage of an ongoing counter-terrorist operation, allowing them only to use statements of a designated official spokesperson during this period.

Neeti Sarkar, the Director of Broadcasting in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, contended in the November 2 order imposing punishment on NDTV India that the journalist’s comments amounted to live coverage of the operation.

Though NDTV India reporter’s somewhat vague reference to a “weapons depot” is not explained in the correspondence between the television station and the Ministry — there are, in fact, several weapons facilities inside the base, though none immediately proximate to the Airmen’s Billet, where NSG personnel apprehended the two suspected terrorists were holed up — several channels carried news not sourced from the official spokesperson.
News24’s show Sabsey Bada Sawaal’s reporter, for example, said in a January 4 broadcast that there were 22 combat aircraft and helicopters parked on the technical area, just short of the runway. Two days earlier, Aaj Tak’s morning news broadcast claimed to provide precise details on the location of the terrorists — “100 metres inside base” — and reported the presence of combat jets in the nearby technical area.

A reporter for ABP News on January 2, again reported that the two terrorists had been cornered in a residential building short of the air force’s technical area, unable to reach the area “where the fighters are”, information near-identical to that NDTV India was to provide two days later.

High-resolution images of the Pathankot Air Force base, showing the precise locations where aircraft were parked, were available prior to the attack on Google Maps, while multiple articles referring to aircraft types flown from there were available on the internet making it highly unlikely the terrorists would have had to rely on news broadcasts for this kind of information.

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  1. Bipin Bhardwaj
    Nov 5, 2016 at 2:51 am
    Fake encounters, fake claims about terrorists, that is how the w system is being run. This is the very basis of the fascism, heading towards systematically establishing dictatorship and destroy evidences, freedom, democracy. Gagging media, students, workers,attacking fundamental consutional rights, police being for repression, murders to out perform the British colonialists brutalities. All to hide the scams, corruption, loot of people and economic failure .
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      Aamir Ansar
      Nov 5, 2016 at 5:14 am
      Its just media Management by Modi ji,lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Who ever speaks the truth, or tries to uncover the real facts and findings is BANNED or killed directly or through Terrorist Attact or encounters.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Examples are freshly killed 8 men claimed to be terrorist but not proved, those men were just simple persons with muslim names.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Mumbai police lost Very brave and truthfull officers such as Mr. Hemant Karkare, who was killed deliberately in a play called the biggest terrorist attact by stan.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It is the hard fact that if U bring out the truth u are either killed or banned.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;We are living in Mafia led political country.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Many will not agree, but people witj sane minds will really think, DO WE REALLY KNOW THE REAL TRUTH
      1. A
        Nov 6, 2016 at 1:34 am
        This is an affront to free press in democracy. If Pathankote was so sensitive, why did the news channels got access to it and who disclosed the sensitive information to them? How secretive is the info when it is available in public domain with Google high resolution maps and available to common man let alone intelligence agencies like ISI. Pathaankote not only exhibits worst security of a defense establishment but the aftermath is a colossal failure. That is even after 24 hour advance intelligence which could have stopped the attack. Subsequent attacks shows the Government had not taken any action nor learned from it. However, it finds the reporters the culprit for it's failure. Modi even officially invited ISI to be part of the investigation giving the enemy access to our airbase. Yet it finds the one anti-government channel, of all the media that reported it, to punish with unheard of closure for one day. Modi talks of free press and media integrity the day before and next day his Government makes the worst violation of free press in any Democracy. This is a Government with unending Jumlabadi, dishonesty and anti-democratic leading India to abyss of anarchy, Chaos. This particular action should be jointly challenged by Civil Society, Press Clubs, democratic people of the country irrespective of their political affiliation. Pathankote and two subsequent attacks on security inastallation reflects on the incompetence of this Government. To blame the messenger for your incompetence, the focus on finding scapegoats instead of cleaning up your mess is reflective of a bad incapable Governance.
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          Nov 5, 2016 at 6:22 am
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            Nov 6, 2016 at 9:10 am
            Does it matters whether there were terrorist exist there. Trurh is NDTV reporting was to reveal the key positions within the base
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