'Govt feared coverage of Yakub Memon's hanging may spark riots'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 14, 2015 00:39 IST
Policemen patrol a road leading to the residence of Yakub Memon, in Mumbai on July 30, 2015. Memon was hanged at a Nagpur jail on Thursday for his role in a series of co-ordinated attacks that killed hundreds of people in Mumbai in 1993. (AFP Photo)

The government feared the coverage of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon’s hanging by four prominent channels could have created a law and order problem, even rioting, which prompted the show-cause notices to them, officials have told HT.

The government sought to send a “tough message” to the media, an official said, for what he termed was “inappropriate coverage” by NDTV24x7, NDTV India, Aaj Tak and ABP News of events leading up to Memon’s execution.

An inter-ministerial panel will now take a call on the responses required to be filed by these channels for allegedly violating the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.

The information and broadcasting ministry’s action has evoked sharp responses from media representatives, who have termed the move as “harsh”.

Raising objections to NDTV Ltd’s NDTV24x7 channel’s coverage, for instance, the Arun Jaitley-headed ministry cited an edition of “Truth vs Hype” programme which showed an interview with Memom’s former lawyer.

The lawyer could be heard saying an accused who played a “role ten times more” than Memon in the blasts that shook Mumbai was “pardoned”.

Objections to the Aaj Tak channel related to the airing of a phone interview of wanted gangster Chotta Shakeel, in which he derided the Indian judiciary. Such content amid a “highly-charged atmosphere” could have resulted in “breach of law and order”, the ministry said. An anchor on the Hindi channel NDTV India termed the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the prosecution’s arguments as “unfortunate”. This was an insult to the judiciary, the show-cause notice said.

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