Katju appeals to Media: exercise restraint in terror cases

Chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju has appealed to the media to exercise restraint in reporting cases of bomb blasts and other terrorist activities. Asking the media to avoid anything which could promote communal hatred and animosity, Katju said: “Once such a Muslim is arrested, it is difficult for him to get bail because when he applies for bail, the Public Prosecutor tells the court that the accused is a ‘terrorist’, and consequently bail is almost always refused.”

Katju said that such a person often remains in jail for several years, and even if he is ultimately found innocent, nobody could restore so many years of his life spent in jail. Citing the example of the recent case of Amir who was arrested when he was just 17 years old and kept in jail for 14 years until he was found innocent by the court, Katju said it was “gross injustice which is often done to Muslims in India”.

In response to a letter by the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah in which he asked Katju to advise media not to defame a particular community in terror-related cases, Katju said: “Bomb blasts and other terrorist activities often occur in our country. The particular persons who have committed such heinous crimes should correctly be identified, prosecuted and when found guilty, given harsh punishment.  However, often innocent Muslims are arrested and incarcerated in prison for several years in this connection”.

Wajahat Habibullah in his letter to Katju said that the NCM has noted with concern that even before completion of investigations and on the basis of what appears unfounded conjecture, media appears to target a particular community, which seems unfortunate and this is also reciprocated in the statements of some who are in positions of authority.  “B. Raman of the Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, has stated in an article in the magazine  Outlook recently that it seems to have become the trend that if there is terror, it has to be a Muslim.  If he is a Muslim, he has to be from the IM (Indian Mujahideen).  If it is the IM, it must have acted at the instance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). That seems to be the thinking reflex of the police and the agencies,” NCM chief quoted.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2013 on page no. 1

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