Some National News Media Seemingly Inspired by ‘Radio Rwanda’, Says Editors Guild
New Delhi: As the Centre went on a backfoot after around 15 countries, including a majority of Gulf nations, severely criticised the controversial remarks made by two BJP members on Prophet Muhammad, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) expressed its concern over the “irresponsible conduct of some national news channels for deliberately creating circumstances that target vulnerable communities by spewing hate towards them and their beliefs,” in a press statement released on June 8.
The statement, undersigned by Seema Mustafa and Sanjay Kapoor, President and General Secretary of EGI respectively, put the blame on select national media houses for sensationalising hateful utterances by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Delhi BJP IT Cell head Naveen Kumar Jindal.
The statement noted how “There was a riot in Kanpur accompanied by an unprecedented trenchant reaction from many countries that were offended by the remarks of the ruling party spokespersons. In their angry statements, they wondered about India’s commitment to human rights and freedom of religion.”
It added, “The incident that caused unnecessary embarrassment to the country could have been avoided if some of the TV outlets had been mindful of the nation’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as the journalistic ethics and guidelines that the Press Council of India has issued to handle a volatile communal situation.”
The EGI minced no words in condemning the role of media houses in bringing “embarrassment” to the nation. It said, “Some of these channels prompted by the desire to increase viewership and profit were seemingly inspired by the values of Radio Rwanda whose incendiary broadcast caused a genocide in the African nation.”
“EGI demands that these channels pause and take a critical look at what they have done by giving legitimacy to divisive and toxic voices that has made the national discourse coarse and the gap between communities unbridgeable.”
The Guild has demanded stricter vigilance by broadcaster and journalist bodies to prevent a recurrence of this from taking place. “The media is in place to strengthen the Constitution and the law and not break it through sheer irresponsibility and absence of accountability,” it said.
Since the outrage by Gulf countries, BJP has suspended Sharma and Jindal.
Meanwhile, The Caravan has come out with a statement by Shahid Tantray, a noted journalist associated with the magazine, alleging harassment by the Srinagar police in lieu of his recent articles on the situation of media in J&K. Tantray wrote in the statement how he had been receiving phone calls by security agencies, asking him to not write “risky articles” and even leave Kashmir. Tantray has alleged that repeated phone calls, especially to his family members, had caused a flurry of trouble in his home.
“From the statement of the above facts it is clear that, between my first story on the crackdown on the freedom of press in Kashmir and the second story on the Indian Army's role in nationalistic protests in Kashmir, my family and I have been consistently harassed by the police. I wish to bring this to your kind notice and attention, and request you to take cognisance of the stated facts. I request you also to intervene, in the interest of protecting free and fair reporting and my right to practice my profession, without fear of repercussions for myself and my family,” the statement read.
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