Katju advises caution to media in reporting terror cases

'An impression has been created by certain communal elements that all Muslims are terrorists'.

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Published:March 6, 2013 8:58 pm

Press Council chairperson Markandey Katju today appealed to the media to exercise restraint when reporting cases of terrorist attacks and bomb blasts and avoid anything which may promote communal hatred.

Katju issued the appeal after National Commission for Minorities (NCM) chairman Wajahat Habibullah wrote to him objecting to the speculation by media in the wake of the Hyderabad twin blasts case.

“It is indeed unfortunate that in recent years an impression has been sought to be created by certain communal elements that all Muslims are terrorists,and Muslims are often discriminated in our country in getting jobs,bank loans,houses on rent etc as mentioned in the Sachar Committee Report,” Katju said in a statement released here.

“I,therefore appeal to the people of India,and particularly to the media,to avoid doing anything which may fan or promote communal hatred and animosity,and exercise restraint in reporting cases of bomb blasts and other terrorist activities,” he said.

Katju said while he believed persons who have committed such heinous crimes should correctly be identified and given harsh punishment,it did not always happen and innocent people were arrested.

The former Supreme Court judge said finding out the real culprits required scientific investigation,the skills for which the police lacked.

Katju said in western countries the police reach the scene of the crime and look for finger prints,ashes,blood stains,fibres,etc and use the data to find out the antecedents of suspects.

“However,in our country most police personnel neither have training in scientific investigation nor the equipment for this purpose,and yet they have to solve the crime,otherwise they may be suspended,” Katju said.

“Since an impression has been created in some quarters that most Muslims are terrorists,the police often arrest some Muslims merely on suspicions,” he said.

Katju said a person arrested in such conditions finds it difficult to get bail and added that there were many instances of false implication of Muslims in bomb blast cases.

Katju said the NCM chairperson had in his letter said even before the police investigation is complete,a section of the media has been announcing that the Indian Mujahideen is responsible for the Hyderabad bomb blast.

Katju said shortly after taking over as PCI chairperson he had said within an hour or so of a bomb blast,many TV channels start showing on their screens that an e-mail or sms has been received from the Indian Mujahideen,Jaish-e- Mohammed,Harkatuljihad-e-Islam “or some other organisations having a Muslim name”,claiming responsibility.

The PCI chief held that this was irresponsible journalism as any mischievous person can send an e-mail or an SMS.

“By showing this on the TV screens a message is conveyed to the viewers,even if by insinuation,that all Muslims are terrorists and bomb throwers. This promotes communalism in our society and hatred against Muslims. The truth is that 99 per cent people of all communities,whether Hindu,Muslim,Sikh,Christian,Jain or Parsee are good,” Katju said.

The PCI chief said he had repeatedly stressed that India is a country of tremendous diversity and the only way to keep it united and take it on the path of progress is secularism and giving equal respect to all communities and sections of society.

Hence promoting or fanning communal hatred is an anti-national act,he stressed.

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