Should govt file FIR against Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV for peddling fake news in Valley?

The channel on June 24 broadcast a news item saying that the house of slain Sarpanch Ajay Pandita of Anantnag district had been vandalised, which was not the case at all

Should govt file FIR against Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV for peddling fake news in Valley?

Gulzar Bhat

Bellicose television journalist Arnab Goswami's Republic TV has been upbraided for running fake news about ransacking of the property of slain Sarpanch Ajay Pandita in Dooru area of Anantnag district, some 80 kms south of Srinagar.

Already caught in the throes of controversies for its irresponsible reportage, the channel on June 24 broadcast a news item crawling across the bottom of the screen saying that the house of Pandita was vandalised.

In a series of tweets, Anantnag police chief Sandeep Choudary made it clear that the house of the deceased Sarpanch was safe and asked the channel to stop peddling the fake news.

The young police officer has also posted the pictures of the house clicked by the SHO of the area.

On June 8, unknown militants shot Pandita when he was at his apple orchard in Lukbawan village, some 6 kms from main town Dooru.

A local resident, who requested anonymity, told National Herald that the property of the deceased Sarpanch is safe and had not been vandalised. "This is fake news. No one has caused any damage to his house. The house is well looked after by a local Muslim caretaker,"he said.

After the police officer denounced the Republic TV's report as fake news, many internet users took to Twitter seeking an FIR against the channel and its owner Arnab Goswami.

One Nishant Pant in a tweet asked the police officer to file a suo motto FIR against Arnab for peddling fake news.

Another Twitter user also suggested filing an FIR and taking appropriate action.

On June 10, the Mumbai Police had summoned Goswamai for allegedly whipping up communal passion through his television show aired on April 29. The Bombay High Court on June 9 had refused to stay the police probe against Goswami in another FIR registered against him for allegedly using the derogatory language against Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and the remarks made on Palghar lynching.

On June 13, the Mumbai High court reserved its order on Goswami's pleas seeking reprieve.

Jammu and Kashmir government has recently come up with a new media policy which attempts, inter alia, thwarting the misinformation and fake news. The policy came close on the heels of booking some prominent Valley-based journalists including a woman journalist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Action(UAPA).

The policy not only empowers officials to decide if a news item is fake, plagiarized or unethical but also gives them enough leeway to prosecute the scribes under IPC and cyber laws. The policy has been slammed by many political and journalist organisations as Orwellian and a colonial-style censorship.

"Now it would be interesting to see if the policy is meant to book only the ordinary reporters of Kashmir or is invoked against influential Delhi-based journalists who use their studios to unsettle communal amity", said a Valley-based editor.

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