A few self-proclaimed senior anchors of national television channels, sitting in cozy studios in New Delhi and Mumbai, have succeeded in portraying Jammu as a pro-rapist region and use of a Hindu ‘temple’ for commission of a very heinous offence on an eight-year old Muslim girl. Thanks to these channels, news splashes across the world are continuously portraying Jammu in a very bad light as a horror city. Without verifying the facts and taking stock of the most crucial evidence about the place of commissioning of the alleged offence, the anchors have gone whole-hog in their vilification campaign to establish that the act was committed in a worship place of Hindus. Is it journalistic ethics, especially revolving around a sensitive issue involving two sections of society? Or, is there more than that actually meets the eyes in a bid to create wedge between Hindus and Muslims in a region that has withstood test of times in maintaining amity and tranquility, especially in the past three decades?
How many of these anchors, who have been yelling on panelists having contrarian and possibly factual views, themselves visited the alleged place of occurrence of the crime-a 25×40 feet hall, used for worship by locals of three villages?
Some of the electronic channels have vividly shown the hall with minute details about its immediate peripheries, the open and vacant surroundings, but none of them seems to have adhered to common sense. This speaks of a pre-fixed mindset. Having three doors and an open window, the hall is fully transparent to the public view. Inside it lie a few thin small rugs and some utensils to offer Puja. Reportedly the hall remains agog with visitors of the three villages most of the day, from dawn to dusk. Its doors remain locked with a set of three keys, one each retained by the people of surrounding three villages.
The investigative journalism would have demanded peeping deep into the facts rather than basing reportage on an investigating agency, subject to cross examination during the trial. The responsible investigative journalists would have gone into the crux of tales being spread, some false some true.
In a series of developments during the past few days, some jingoistic channels, infamous for giving space to anti-national panelists from within the country and across the borders in Pakistan to boost their TRPs, pretending as hyper nationalists, went too far in belittling respectable people during their shows. One of the fussy anchors kept on calling names and shaming people without giving them opportunity to place before the viewers their versions. Driven by his habit, he kept on insulting invited panelists without listening them, in a vain bid to showcase his bravado. People understand who’s who and what are the interests and motivations behind browbeating panelists.
The unfortunate girl was reported missing from the grazing ground on January 11 and allegedly kept in the hall by her predators. When she did not turn back her temporary Kothar till late evening, an inquisitive reporter would have tried to know the response of the family and the adjoining community members. In normal circumstances they would have launched a search and the temple hall, being the public place, could have been easily accessible. According to eye witnesses, the entire room can be viewed through the window that remains wide open in the absence of window-panes. Even if the keys would not have been, or made, available, the searchers could have stared through the window. Nobody appears to have tried to find out the girl in this hall or if they did they might have not find anything objectionable. Despite these harsh facts, a vicious campaign is continuing to hoodwink the public opinion that crime was commissioned in a temple, also being called as Devasthan. This is a mischievous bid to drag religion into the commission of barbaric crime.
Also, how come the victim remained unnoticed by the visitors, women and children included, who must have been spending quite a time in offering Puja in the hall? Incidentally, two days after her alleged captivity, the hall remained hugely occupied in the wake of Lohri on January 13. There is reportedly no attached room where she could have been kept in hiding in the midst of her relatives, community people and the police having launched massive search operations in the entire area.
How the over-zealous, over-enthusiastic and jingoistic channels missed these facts, which are going to be crucial for the case and would eventually come under scanner during judicial process? By basing their investigative journalism on patently wrong assumptions, aren’t the media channels becoming party to denying justice to little angel?
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper