Thursday, March 09, 2017

Indian Media credibility hits a new low: Sympathies towards right-wing terrorists exposed after Ajmer blast conviction

The biases of Indian media were revealed on their front pages on March 9.

Two days ago, a suspected terrorist had been shot after an 'encounter' in Lucknow. The papers had the follow-up.

Also, in the Ajmer Dargah terrorist attack, a court had delivered judgment on March 8, convicting three persons (one of them dead) while acquitting others.

What was the difference in the cases? While the Lucknow incident was splashed and most TV channels termed him 'aatanki', those convicted in the Ajmer case were not termed 'aatanki'.

This is despite the fact that the latter were held guilty by a court. They were guilty of bomb blasts at a shrine that was revered by Hindus and Muslims equally, and several people had died in the blasts.

However, these persons--Devendra Gupta, an RSS pracharak, Sunil Joshi (dead) who was also an RSS pracharak and Bhavesh Gupta, were not termed either extremist or militant. Not much was told about the accused and their role.

READ: RSS' long-term functionaries convicted in Ajmer terror strike

However, on TV channels round the clock, the Lucknow suspect was termed 'aatanki' though there was no case or even trial, and he was shot dead in the encounter. Every terror suspect has to be dealt with sternly.

If he was involved in terror and wasn't shot, everyone would still demand punishment through legal process. But is that fair that those held guilty by law of involvement in terror, are not termed 'terrorists'.

What stops you? What kind of sympathy is that? The papers the next day had called him a terrorist and the story was carried on front page and on inside pages too. But the important judgement in Ajmer blast case got little attention.

If, at all, the papers carried report, it was about Aseemanand's acquittal, not about those who were convicted. They were not termed terrorists despite their conviction in a terror case. Clearly, it showed how media didn't take the case seriously at all.

Many Delhi-based national papers carried the news in a single column. For most Hindi papers, it was about Aseemanand's acquittal though he had earlier given his confession under section 164 before a magistrate and it couldn't be retracted.

However, all these facts mattered little to media. TV channels' role was worse. While Saifullah's death was turned into a tamasha and the encounter was shown live, the questions raised were not given due attention.