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Instigators of Murderous Mobs

Journalism, and the media, registered their presence on the Indian scene from the second half of the 19th century as part of a wider upheaval in Indian society and a response to British colonialism. From day one, to a large extent, they had chosen their sides. So terrified were our colonial masters that theyenacted a separate law to deal with the media. Many of our freedom fighters took to journalism in order to communicate with the masses; Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar are only the prominent ones and there were many others.

From then to now Indian media has travelled a long distance. Sensational, baseless allegations levelled by the media for the sake of TRP ratings, and the amplification by the Delhi police of these false allegations, is probably the media’s darkest hour in non-Emergency times. It has changed from a provider of information relevant to public interest, poser of questions to those in power to agent provocateur of a reactionary mob hell-bent on subverting constitutional democracy and rolling back every achievement that the people have achieved through a long struggle. It is now abundantly clear that plain-clothes policemen were present during a gathering on the JNU campus on 9 February but did not perceive any wrongdoing. If the TV channels had not hyped it ad nauseam the gathering would have passed off as just another meeting of young people registering their protest and discussing a subject they perceived as problematic. This is probably a break from the past when the media acted as a spokesperson of the establishment by recycling innuendos, “anonymous leaks” and planted information as news to now as acting as an active instigator of murderous mobs. This is not only unprofessional and immoral conduct but also a criminal activity, liable to be prosecuted, ironically, under the same section of the Indian Penal Code under which Kanhaiya Kumar has been charged by the Delhi police.

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