Tuesday, December 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Charges against cops have basis
PCI panel report on attacks on journalists
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
A fact-finding committee appointed by the Press Council of India on police attacks on journalists in Chennai from June 26 onwards has concluded that the allegations made against the police are “not without substance”.

Simultaneously, the five-member inquiry committee, headed by Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor of The Tribune, has remarked that “there is some irresponsible reporting in a section of the Press.”

Further, the committee, in its 22-page report submitted to the Press Council Chairman, has observed that the media in Tamil Nadu is sharply divided on party lines. “Of course there are “neutral” publications and “neutral journalists”. However, when a sizeable section of the local media is divided, in an atmosphere of animosity, a fallout on the “neutral persons” is natural.

Elaborating the peculiar pressures of members of the Fourth Estate in Tamil Nadu, the inquiry committee pointed out that the regime under Ms J. Jayalalithaa seemed to believe that she had been getting a “bad Press” ever since her arrival on the political scene.

“On the other hand, the DMK chief, Mr M. Karunanidhi, astutely plays his role so that a chunk of the local media is sympathetic to his cause and becomes vulnerable. He sought to play the “sympathy” card with repeated visuals depicting “inhuman treatment” to him during his arrest.” The inquiry committee visited Chennai and held inquiry sessions on August 31, September 1 and 2 and heard all journalist organisations and unions as well as the Commissioner of Police, Chennai, Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police and other policemen who were present.

The committee concluded that the intention of the police appeared to be that no photo/video evidence should be allowed so that the police resorting to a severe lathi charge and other methods could not be telecast. “This intention appears to stem from the fact that during the arrest of Mr Karunanidhi, TV channels could videograph the event and repeatedly telecast the arrest episode which had attracted wide attention showing the powers that be in bad light. Given this intention of the police, it could be easily concluded that there was a calculated attempt by the police to prevent reporting of the incidents which might be inconvenient to it or to the powers that be.”Back

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