Taking a strong stance against the coverage of terrorists, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has pressed for a new media policy. He has suggested giving no space for terrorists and incidents related to terrorism.
Citing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Doval said that the media, “as an important organ to fight terrorism”, should not serve as terrorists’ publicity tool.
“Why do terrorists kill? As Margaret Thatcher said that if a terrorist takes action and the media is quiet about it, terrorism will end”, Doval said while addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference of Chiefs of Anti-Terror Squads/Special Task Forces in New Delhi on Monday.
Explaining the logic behind such requests to the media, Doval said terrorists do it for publicity.
“If 10 people are killed somewhere and nobody comes to know about it, nobody is terrorised… This is why we have to change our media policy, become more transparent, take them into confidence. And when we don’t tell them anything they probably speculate at times, which creates more terror in society...so perception management is an important part”, Doval explained.
Offering some calm words for the judiciary while dealing with terror cases, he said: “The approach of the judiciary to treat terrorism cases at par with ordinary crimes, they apply the same benchmark and standards... building up the cases... Where do you get the eyewitnesses in terror cases?”
“Very few... and secondly who will dare come and depose... it is difficult for any ordinary citizen to come in a court of law and depose against a dreaded Jaish or Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terrorist... and I want to compliment NIA that has withstood these challenges”.
The Indian national security adviser highlighted the issue at a time when around a dozen people have received acquittal from courts in terror cases.
A special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court in Ahmedabad on 27 September granted bail to Yasin Bhat, alleged to be the prime conspirator of the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack after the court favoured the argument that Bhat had been arrested at a belated stage and much after India’s apex court acquitted the six accused in May 2014.
In an another case, the court acquitted three youth slapped with terror charges in June this year, as the court said that the mere use of the word “jihad” by a person cannot be grounds to brand him a terrorist.