Freedom of Expression is certainly paramount in democracy. Still it is guided by thin lines. If you cross them, you have to face the brunt
Irked over the registration of First Information Report (FIR) against the Editor, Publisher and Reporter of Outlook for its misleading and fabricated story against the country’s largest women organisation, the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, a gang of journalists known for their ideological inclinations again seems to be gearing up to hit the streets in the name of 'freedom of expression' and 'media rights'. The FIR was filed by Bijon Mahajan, Syed Mominul Aowal and Subhash Chandra Kayal, under section 120B, 153A, and 32 of the IPC at Latasil Police Station in Guwahati on August 4 seeking thorough investigation into the matter and punishment to the culprits.
The ‘fresh campaign’ (still unknown what would it to be named as ‘Intolerance’ is already the most exploited word now) was kick-started in New Delhi on August 10 in the name of “mobilising all media organisations at single platform”. Press Club of India (PCI) held a discussion at its office in New Delhi to ‘defend’ the misdeeds of Outlook and condemn the FIR filed against the magazine in Guwahati. PCI chairman Rahul Jalali and Indian Women’s Press Corps chairperson Sushma Ramachandran shared the dais, while representatives from other media organisations “expressed solidarity” with the Outlook. Indian Journalists Union (IJU) vice president Shabina Inderjit, SK Pande from DUJ, Jyoti Malhotra from South Asian Women in Media, Saroj Negi, CP Jha, Rajiv Ranjan Nag, Hartosh, etc defended the misdeeds of Outlook in one voice.
Jyoti Malhotra took Arnab Goswami of Times Now to task for his recent remarks against some racketeers in the media. Some of the speakers also raised the issue of media censorship in Kashmir without uttering even a single word against the anti-national forces active in the Valley.
None of the mediapersons, except Delhi Journalists Association (DJA) president Anil Pandey, who was not a scheduled speaker but intervened during the discussion, questioned the baseless reporting by Outlook citing the fake interview of senior journalist Ram Bahadur Rai that it published some time back. As Shri Pandey put Outlook to task, its representatives started interrupting. After Shri Pandey, Outlook representative held the mike and said if Shri Rai had any objection over his interview, he should have filed FIR against the magazine. However, nobody in the hall questioned him as to why they are now making hue and cry over the FIR filed against them in Assam. The Outlook man also said the media have lost credibility. Again, nobody asked him as to who is responsible for this dent and how much the media houses like Outlook have contributed in this loss?
The entire exercise seems to be aimed at defaming the Central Government and the Sangh associated organisations. As the elections are approaching in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, etc, such campaigns may be further intensified in coming days.
Any sensible person who went through the story of Outlook against Rashtra Sevika Samiti only rubbished it. The parents of the Vanvasi girls who study in Sevika Samiti hostels in different parts of the country held a press conference in Guwahati on August 1 and spoke on record that what Outlook published is baseless and fabricated.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), which was claimed by Outlook that Government has threatened to sack its top official, issued a press statement in Guwahati on August 2 making it clear that nobody in the Commission received any threat. “The Commission has not received any threat either from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the State Government. Instead, the Commission puts on records that the NCPCR and the Government has always been supportive and cooperated with the ASCPCR to put forward the main issues concerning child rights protection and promotion in the state. The Commission totally denies the fact published in Outlook,” the statement said.
The crisis of credibility that the media face today is the result of the misdeeds by some mediapersons and the media houses only. Instead of
finding the ills outside, better if they honestly introspect and raise a voice against the wolves hiding in their own houses.