Bhubaneswar: In its very essence, media is the fourth pillar of democracy. But this essence seems to be lost somewhere in Indian media’s crowd of flashing breaking news, red side panels, bold letters and screaming anchors. In the pursuit of sensation, sensibility has gone for a toss and that is very prominent in the way Indian media dealt with the current India-Pakistan conflict.
There are several instances that prove this. Despite no confirmation from Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, news channels claimed that over 300 terrorists and JeM chief’s brother-in-law Maulana Yousuf Azhar had been killed in the Balakot air strikes that were carried out by Indian Air Force on Tuesday. Following that, comes the story of Abhinandan, the IAF pilot who was captured by Pakistani Army after his fighter jet crashed across the LoC. While YouTube complied with IT Ministry’s directive to remove 11 objectionable videos on him from the site, Indian media continued to use all his visuals without even blurring the blood and gore.
After Pakistan released Abhinandan’s video in which he can be seen sipping tea and clearly refusing to reveal his exact address to the interrogator, Indian media dug out his personal information and reached his house in Chennai to shoot their Piece-to-Cameras and interview the family members. Senior journalists opine that this can put Abhinandan in a dangerous position. They also said that newspaper reports revealing Abhinandan’s strategy of swallowing secret documents, is also a move that is debatable in the current tense situation.
Senior journalist Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra said, “It is indeed a shameful incident. Abhinandan’s privacy and his family’s mental condition has been violated by the media. Both national and regional media have been revealing and publicizing his personal details, which is saddening. There should be a limit to media’s outrage and reportage.”
Retired Lieutenant General Narayan Mohanty, who once served as the Director General of Indian army, was very upset over the media coverage of the issue. Recalling the incident of 26/11 Mumbai attack, he said, “During the Mumbai terror attack, the Indian news channels showed each and every operation that was being carried out by our armed forces. Terrorist commanders in Pakistan received information from these new channels and directed their operatives to act accordingly. Unfortunately, we lost a brave army officer major Sandeep Unnikrishnan that day.”
This hunger for TRP can put the country in danger at times of conflict, he further said. He also criticized the move of flashing news like ‘BIG DIPLOMATIC WIN FOR INDIA’, ‘PAKISTAN SURRENDERS’ immediately after their Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to release IAF pilot Abhinandan. “The boy is still in their custody. They could have done anything,” he said.
Pakistani media is no better. The channels have been constantly targeting Indian media and spreading hate amongst public there. Some even go to the extent of thrashing Bollywood and calling for a war. The channels were altogether on a different fight by throwing veiled attacks at one another during the sensitive situation of escalated tensions between the neighboring countries.
Senior journalist sums up the entire debate perfectly. He said, “Being a media personnel, I am disheartened to be a part of this fraternity. The media has created a war-like situation out of what was a ‘non-military’ strike. Between perpetrating violence and striving for peace, media should undoubtedly work towards the latter.”