Journalists Must Report the Ayodhya Verdict Responsibly

NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 23, 2010 (By Rajiv Malik, HPI Correspondent South Asia/India):

“The Allahabad High Court’s verdict on Ram Janambhoomi dispute needs to be reported in a highly matured and responsible manner so that passions are not aroused and peace in the country is not disturbed. However there is no need to create an unnecessary panic over the delivery of the court ruling. What also needs to be understood is that the High Court decision will not be the final decision and both the parties will have the option to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of India if they were not satisfied with the ruling.” This was the consensus view of a large number of journalists who participated in a seminar on the subject, “Ayodhya and Media” which was organized by Delhi Journalists Association on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at the Deputy Chairman Hall in the prestigious Constitution Club located in the heart of Central Delhi.

Expressing his views, senior journalist Shri Ram Bahadur Rai said, ” The verdict would not mean just reporting of an event but reporting on a part of history as it was a 482 years old dispute which was being heard in the court for the past 60 years.”

Shri Rajendra Prabhu, another senior journalist said that the nation was passing through very difficult times and we all knew what was happening in Kashmir. Shri Prabhu opined, “We have to ensure that our sources are reliable and we need to verify our fact not once but if needed twenty times, if we are reporting something as important and sensitive as Ayodhya verdict. We have to ensure that the credibility of the media is not damaged in any manner. If we do not care about the facts and credibility then we are just playing the role of a propagandist who is being used by some one to carry on his propaganda through us.”

Shri Alok Mehta, a senior journalist and editor of Nai Duniya, a Hindi daily published from a number of states in India, said that important verdicts like Ayodhya are occasions which test the credibility of media organizations and media persons. According to Shri Mehta, “There have always been forces which want to use the media for their own nefarious purposes and designs. But we have to act with maturity and not try to politicize the matter.” He went on to say, ” It is perhaps justified for the court to not to allow media in the court as it would not be possible for them to make arrangements for hundreds of media persons from all over the world who have already started flocking down to the place where the verdict will be delivered. Moreover it is going to be a 6000 page verdict and maybe for a lay person like me it will take a lot of time to understand what the verdict has to say. It would be good if experts on law including some former justices are requested to help understand the intricacies of the detailed judgement.”

Expressing his views while participating in the discussion, this HPI correspondent can share that “There was no need to create any panic as both the parties to the dispute, that is the prominent Hindu and Muslim organizations and their main leaders had publicly said that they will abide by the verdict of the court. In fact the media should prominently highlight this fact so that the readers know about this assurance of the leaders of both the communities.”


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