Friday, November 04, 2016

Turning a citizen into 'terrorist' without trial: Role of Dainik Bhaskar, section of Hindi media in turning 'aaropi' into 'aatanki'

Role of a section of Hindi media in turning 'aaropi' [suspect or accused] into 'criminal' or 'terrorist' even before completion of trial and judgment, is something that has affected a large number of under-trials.

If someone is guilty of crime or terrorism, stern action is definitely needed. The person must be booked under harsh laws and all evidences should be gathered to get him convicted.

But, if you term someone 'aatanki' or 'apradhi' i.e. 'terrorist' or 'criminal', even before the trial has been completed--it makes a mockery of justice and the entire system.

Sadly, this has been happening in India for years now. In North India and Central India, the situation is even more acute. Certain newspapers [more than TV channels] are involved in this dirty practice.

READ: Who needs the courts when we have the media? [News Laundry report]

Violating Law of the Land

In central India, Dainik Bhaskar leads this trend. The law of the land says that a person is innocent till held guilty by the courts.

However, Dainik Bhaskar seems to have a right to call anyone terrorist even before trial is over. So police says, 'accused' but the paper terms it 'terrorist', which affects investigation.

Double standards

Aseemanand or Sandeep Dange may be accused in cases of bomb blasts but are not termed 'aatanki'. But the same newspaper terms even those Muslim youths 'aatanki, who face no blast or terror charge.

Just if there is accusation of association with a banned outfit, the Muslim youth is promptly termed 'aatanki'.  This is not the word police use after arrest. But newspaper creates scare and brands arrestd person.

Who is 'terror accused'?

Anyone who is involved in unlawful activities and association with banned outfits is booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

It is registered against suspected Maoists, suspected ULFA cadre and those with suspected SIMI [Islamist] links, right-wing [Hindutva] groups. There are dozens of organisations banned in India.

READ: Campaign against Dainik Jagran for communal, biased reporting

Apart from them, members of outfits that are not banned are booked under the law. Many of them are not members of any outlawed groups but are caught for explosion, blasts or other terror-related acts.

None of them is termed 'aatanki'. However, among most newspapers, Dainik Bhaskar seems to have the 'power', an extra-constitutional power to name anyone 'terrorist' as per its discretion.

Irresponsible reporting affects, destroys families

When someone is judged a criminal or terrorist, it leads to entire society turning away from the person's family. It affects court cases and also entire life.

Families are destroyed because of irresponsible reporting. It is unfortunate that there has not been a serious action against newspapers that act as courts and assume the role of judges.

READ: Campaign against Dainik Jagran for communal, biased reporting