Campaign India Team
Nov 24, 2009

Anant’s blog: Looking beyond IBN Lokmat in the attack

There have been reams written about the attack by Shiv Sena activists on the IBN Lokmat office in Mumbai.In an unusual show of solidarity, newspapers and news channels have all condemned the attack, with even The Times of India – always loth to mention a competitive media product – front-paging the attack story with a photograph.The Shiv Sena hit back saying the ‘media is not God’.

Anant’s blog: Looking beyond IBN Lokmat in the attack

There have been reams written about the attack by Shiv Sena activists on the IBN Lokmat office in Mumbai.

In an unusual show of solidarity, newspapers and news channels have all condemned the attack, with even The Times of India – always loth to mention a competitive media product – front-paging the attack story with a photograph.

The Shiv Sena hit back saying the ‘media is not God’.

That’s where all the media, in my opinion, missed a trick – by making the focus of the coverage an attack on the freedom of the press.

The moment this was done, all the protestations became self-serving, allowing the Shiv Sena to attack the media houses themselves.

And, in a way, these protestations are self-serving.

Political parties of all hue and colour have been in open defiance of the law for many years.

I was first exposed to it in 1968, when I was seven, studying in St. Xavier’s in Kolkata. The Chattra Parishad had called for a bandh, and our school defied the call. Chattra Parishad activists stormed into the school with sticks and stones and all manner of implements. Those students who lived close to the school, as I did, were in defiance of the call as well and went through a truly frightening two hour experience.

Of late, we’ve seen attacks on shops selling anything remotely connected to romance on Valentine’s Day, we’ve seen attacks on bars, pubs, restaurants, doctors, hospitals, colleges (for not admitting ‘recommended’ candidates) and so on.

The media reported on them.

And forgot about them.

The main issue here is the fact that political parties support and encourage their activists to break and flout the laws of the land.

Many laws, with many victims – not just media. It so happened, in this instance, that the ‘victim’ was a news channel.

The issue of the disdain with which political activists treat the law of the land is the one that needs to be discussed and debated – not the trampling of media freedom. The freedom of youth to visit pubs and bars and wear clothes of their choice is important too. The freedom of a businessman to have his signage only in English or Tamil or whatever language he chooses is important, too. The freedom for all to ignore a call for a bandh needs to be protected as well. The security of doctors and hospital and college administrators are paramount as well.

The list is endless.

And there’s no room for political parties to have half a comeback.

Source:
Campaign India