Don't communalise terror reports, says Press Council chief Katju

Justice Markandey KatjuJustice Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India, has asked the media to ''exercise restraint in reporting cases of bomb blasts and terrorist activities'' in order to avoid any suggestion of communal bias.

In response to an appeal sent to him by National Commission for Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah, he said in a statement that the media should avoid doing anything which might ''fan or promote communal hatred and animosity.''

Habibullah, in his letter to Katju, had pointed to some atrocious reporting in the national media about the double blast in Hyderabad on 21 February that killed 17 people and injured at least 23 others.

''Even before the completion of the investigation and on the basis of what appears as unfounded conjecture, the media appears to have targeted a particular community,'' he said.

Habibullah referred to an article by B Raman, a former intelligence official and security analyst, which says, ''It seems to have become the trend that if it is terror, it has to be a Muslim. If it is Muslim, he has to be from the IM (Indian Mujahideen). If it is the IM, it must have acted at the instance of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).''

Agreeing with the NCM chairman, Katju said in his statement, ''Since an impression has been created in some quarters that most Muslims are terrorists, the police often arrest some Muslims on mere suspicion. Once such a Muslim is arrested, it is difficult for him to get bail even if he is ultimately found innocent, nobody can restore so many years of his life spent in jail.''