Friday, October 30, 2020

Open letter to Dainik Bhaskar: Stop publishing biased, inflammatory reports that divide society

It's shocking how journalism takes a backseat and propaganda, falsehoods and terms that are inflammatory, objectionable and divisive appear in news items of the paper.

It was a gory crime, a youth kills a girl (published on October 28, 2020) but the news was presented in Dainik Bhaskar as a case of Love Jihad. 

There was no 'alleged' as prefix or even the term in inverted commas though the reality is that there is no Love Jihad either in Indian Penal Code & Home Ministry has clearly said that this term has no legal basis.

Every day there are innumerable killings across the country but if in one case, if it is an inter-religious crime, the newspaper uses this term to strengthen this propaganda though Love Jihad was a term used by ultra right-wing groups and it is a figment of their imagination. 

However, they succeeded in repeating this charge and the term was brought in usage. But when a newspaper on its own starts using it, it not only makes a mockery of journalistic standards, but also divides society and tries to give the impression as if it is mouthpiece of a ultra-right wing group that feels there is a conspiracy and one community is targeting girls belonging to other community.

A crime is a crime and the accused must face action in accordance with law, that's all. There are no ifs and buts, stern action must be taken. But how the paper on its own decides to use this term, a usage which cleverly pushes forward a shameful narrative that demonizes one community, it is a dangerous thing. A newspaper is for public information, not to strengthen biases and create communalism or mistrust in society.

When you are fully aware that Home Ministry has said that there are no Love Jihad cases, the term has no legal basis and that no such cases have been reported by central agencies. This has been stated in the Parliament. So who uses this term? Did police tell the reporter that this was a case of Love Jihad? No. How, your editorial team on its own used this term?

That's not the first occasion. You need to be sensitive and practice journalism. Does your news organisation even have a basic diversity, representing the region's population or your editorial team doesn't have representation of all communities and sections. As, the reporting quite often shows deep biases and failure to adhere to high standards of fair journalism.

On the same day, another news from Indore came--a man killed his newly wed wife by strangulating her with dog leash (chain) and later stabbing her repeatedly. In this case it was not Hindu-Muslim issue, so it didn't get attention. Unfortunately, of thousands of cases if one case has an inter-religious angle, it is played up and people fall for the propaganda when newspapers too take such stand rather than reporting crimes as crimes.

Petition urging the newspaper to stop publishing biased reports and adhere to journalistic standards and media ethics