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Acquitted By Court, Charged By Media

By Shaik Zakeer Hussain

11 February, 2013

In India, even though a suspect is acquitted, of his alleged crime by a court, the media continues to portray them as social maniacs and traitors, who need to be 'exposed' in the interest of 'national security'.

The morning Afzal Guru was hanged, television channels called people with disparate views, to share their thoughts and opinions on the secret execution, some of them were overjoyed that Guru was finally hanged, some expressed their anger that he was not provided a fair trial, and his execution was 'politically motivated'.

Prof. S.A.R Geelani, the Delhi University lecturer, who was sentenced to death along with Guru, for his alleged role in the attack on Indian Parliament and who was later acquitted for the lack of evidence, was also called. He slammed the government for hanging Afzal Guru, without informing his family members, and the '"flawed legal procedure followed in this case". Prof. Geelani, expressed the same angst on two different channels; NDTV and CNN-IBN.

But this step to ask for his opinion by these channels, was not appreciated by many people in the country, while most of them took to social media to rant it out, one man, used his position as the Editor-in-chief of a major news network, and made this remark, "Times Now will not provide a platform to an accused in the attack on the Indian parliament". Let me remind you again, that Prof. Geelani was acquitted by the Delhi High Court, as there was no evidence found against him, to prove his role in the attack, but for reasons best known to him, Mr. Arnab Goswami, seems to be not satisfied with it, and he, along with many in this country, satisfied their vested interests by building a bogeymen image of an innocent man. Surprisingly, Mr. Goswami, did not had a problem providing a platform to the same 'accused' a few years ago, when he had still not taken the task of 'setting agendas for this country.' You can watch that video on YouTube.

Prof. Geelani's is not the only such case, Syed Wasif Haider was arrested in July 2001, for his alleged role in the Kanpur bomb blasts of 14 August 2000, and after rotting in prison for eight years, he was Acquitted in August 2009, after the 'courts either refused to entertain the confessional statement made in police custody (which often found space in the media) or found the witnesses “unable to establish” that Haider had a role in the bomb blasts'. But the media of this country, as usual was not satisfied, they continued to link him with several blasts or so-called terror cases, as much that his own relatives are scared to meet him.

When he met the former president of India, he said her, “Please stop the media from defaming me. I was declared innocent in 2009. Yet, the local media drags my name in whenever there’s a blast. I’m facing a social boycott. Children in the locality don’t play with a ‘terrorist’s’ daughters. Relatives feel police will hound them for visiting me.”

The media trial starts from the time suspects get arrested and continues even after their acquittal. In August 2012, when some Muslims youths in Bangalore and Hubli were arrested, the regional media in Karnataka, almost immediately started building stories and reporting them based on unproven charges. One channel reported that some of the youths had traveled to Iran, some other channel reported that those very youths had traveled to Pakistan, while their parents maintained that they did not even had a passport. Till today, the police have not submitted any charges against the youths to the court.

This irresponsible behaviour of the media, both regional and national, should be condemned, and checked. Media has no right to charge any one, based on its presumptions, and it has no right to play with people's lives, to build TRPs and brand image for their networks.

Shaik Zakeer Hussain is an independent writer. Check his blog at: mashaalmedia.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/MashaalMedia





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