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Terror cases and the media: Not enough objectivity?

by Anurag Mazumdar  Mar 5, 2013 17:23 IST

Is the media responsible for the victimisation of Muslim youth by the police and the investigating agencies in the event of a bomb blast or a terrorist attack?

Yes, said Muthiurrahman Siddiqui, one of the men picked up by the Andhra Pradesh Police on false charges of being in cahoots with terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Huji.

Speaking to Sagarika Ghose on a late night discussion on CNN-IBN, Siddiqui, a journalist with Deccan Chronicle himself said, "I think the media is far more inclined towards sensationalism. I think what they do is name unnamed sources and treat what the police is saying as gospel truth."

Even after the Dilsukhnagar blasts, police were quick to conclude that it was the handiwork of IM. PTI.

Even after the Dilsukhnagar blasts, police were quick to conclude that it was the handiwork of IM. PTI.

He also said that most of the time journalists are not bothered about the accuracy of the claims of the investigating agencies.

"The journalists often treat whatever the police is saying as gospel truth. In effect they end up playing the role of a police stenographer" he added.

According to him, once you are rounded up by the police, the stigma attached to the accusation is always there. Even when one is acquitted of all charges, the police routinely haul up people and urge them to come to the police stations frequently for questioning, he added.

Such stigmas often have disastrous results for people - like Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, the DRDO scientist who was wrongly implicated in a terror case. He lost his job as a junior research fellow in DRDO and was picked up by the police for alleged links with terror groups. Though the National Investigation Agency (NIA) could not press charges against him, DRDO sacked him on February 12.

Manisha Sethi, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, said that the police and the media often end up sharing a very symbiotic relationship. "The media often reports its story based on unnamed sources from the police and the investigation agencies."

In most cases, the media ends up playing up the constant narrative of the jihadi Islamic fundamentalist whereas the truth of the matter is that this only ends up fueling the prejudices of the police.

The media should help in investigation and report objectively so that prosecutable evidence can be brought to the forefront, she said.

Watch the entire discussion Face the Nation on IBNLive here.

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