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Saturday, September 14, 2013

When TV channels didn't go hysteric after a blast, 'ignored' a terror attack in India

Whenever there is a terror attack, everything else gets eclipsed on TV channels in India.

But on Friday, an incident occurred which was totally 'blacked out' by media. The news of 'eight killed in the terrorist strike' was nowhere* seen.

Even in past incidents when a bomb blast took place and no one died but 1-2 persons got injured, the news dominated national headlines.

Then, whey it happened this time. The death penalty to Delhi gang rape accused and choice of BJP's prime ministerial candidate remained the big news.A news agency sent the report and some websites carried it but there was no 'flash' or 'alert'.

This is despite the fact that EIGHT persons were killed in this incident. Is it just because it happened in Manipur in North East? Certain similar incidents in Assam and other parts here have made it to 'breaking news' on TV channels and 'possibility of X,Y,Z outfits' involvement discussed for hours and days'.

All shades of terror are threat to society

The incident clearly shows how Indian media selectively terms certain incidents as 'Terror' and [perhaps inadvertently] causes panic in the society while some other incidents that are of much bigger magnitude are passed off as simple 'blasts' and as a result there is no scare, fear or terror in society.

Yes, in today's world, media sets the agenda. So how this 'selected reporting' happens? But first on another aspect of today's incident. The news agency reported 'eight non-Manipuris killed'. Have you ever heard in any incident. 

If there is a mishap in Gujarat or tragic accident in Maharashtra, do you say 'non-Gujaratis killed' or 'Non-MP residents killed'? Weren't they all Indians?Are lives of non-Manipuris not important? Even if agency's reporter was casual, the desks at newspapers could have checked it and made it look a sensible news. But they didn't bother. Do you know why?
All shades of terror threat to society

Further, see the language. '..bomb was thrown by suspected militants'. What? Aren't they militants or terrorists. Suspected word is ideally used when you name an outfit. This precaution otherwise never taken.  In this case, even terming those throwing a bomb are termed 'suspected militant'.

Can an innocent person do such an act? Of course, not. He has to be a fanatic or militant or terrorist. Then, why so much softness on this occasion. Why no mourning for deaths. No side stories. No condemnation. No messages from ministers?

Let's condemn all forms of Terrorism

Is it just because those reporting from the ground very well knew that there was no possibility of 'so-called Muslim group' involved in this case because it is Manipur..So it became just a 'blast', even though the reports accept that the magnitude was such that it was heard in an area of 1 km.

Perhaps, it is also believed that the news won't interest citizens in rest of the India. After all, when there is no names of shadowy groups or Arabicised names, what would make an interesting copy? Or the reason could be that there is a notion that it is only terror when a Muslim does something disruptive.

Otherwise its not worth sensational reporting. So who expects follow-up stories or later investigation, when on the first day the news has been played down to such an extent. When will electronic media realise the damage this sort of dubious reporting [and double standards] is causing to the society?

Electronic media's 'unwritten' rule on distinguishing between acts of terror

Another point we must remember. There are 66 designated terror groups in India. See the link here. Most of them are not the 'Jihadi' groups, rather, they are the groups active in North East. When they set off blast, this is not termed as 'terrorism'. The same is true for the Naxalites or Maoists.

Howsoever heinous an act they may commit, the acts by NDFB or ULFA remain 'blasts', not 'Terror'. This is perhaps another 'unwritten media rule'. Can we ever expect TV channels to be objective? They promise time and again that they don't need censorship as they will do self-regulation. But are they capable of it? No. 

Now just compare the two incidents:

1. Low intensity blasts, no one killed. 2012 August. All channels had stopped their regular programmes and for hours focused on this news. See the LINK

2. Blast in Imphal [Manipur], eight killed. 2013 September. TV channels don't bother at all. 'Terror' word not mentioned at all. See the LINK

[*a few sites carried it as an ordinary news unlike the scale of coverage over a period days that such incidents get.]