"Discrimination" against Muslims is giving rise to a feeling of injustice among them, Press Council Chairman Markanedya Katju on Sunday claimed and rebuked the media for what he described as "demonising" Muslim community through "irresponsible" journalism.
Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju along with criminal lawyer Majid Memon at Mumbai University function. HT photo/Kunal Patil
"Whenever a bomb blast occurs or such incident takes place, within an hour or so many TV channels start showing that an email or sms has come from the Indian Mujahideen, JeM or Harkatuljihad-e-Islam, or some Muslim name, claiming responsibility.
"An email or sms can be sent by any mischievous person. But when your start screening this on TV and next day in print. The certain message you (media) are sending is that all Muslims are terrorists and they having nothing to do except to throw bombs....You are demonising the entire Muslim community and promoting communalism", Katju said.
He was addressing a symposium on "Reporting Terror: How Sensitive is the media?", organised by English daily 'The Hindu'.
"Is this the responsible behaviour of the media? I think it is totally irresponsible behaviour which is promoting communalism in the country. This is very bad. I have raised voice against this, but they said I am suppressing the media", Katju said.
Observing that media should stick to ethics and be mindful of its national responsibility, Katju said, "Do you have the freedom to spread communalism? You will be stopped from doing devilish thing. I am a strong fighter for media's freedom but I will not allow you to do such devilish things. You will have to have responsibility in the national interest".
Katju claimed the feeling of injustice was on the rise among Muslims owing to "discrimination" against them in various spheres.
"Unfortunately, Muslims are discriminated in getting jobs, banks loans and there is a sense of great injustice", he alleged.
"The cause of terrorism is injustice. Abolishment of poverty and discrimination will help in checking terrorism", the former Supreme Court judge said.
Stressing that every freedom is subjected to reasonable restriction in public interest, Katju said he had earlier requested the Prime Minister on the need for amending the Press Council Act.
"The amendments were sought with regard to bringing the electronic media under purview of media council and for providing some powers to take action", Katju said, pointing out that he was only in favour of regulation and not to control the media.
"But, in exceptional circumstances definite action needs to be taken", he added.