The I&B Ministry on Friday served notice to India TV for broadcasting a conversation with a terrorist holed up inside Nariman House in Mumbai. The Ministry has demanded an explanation from the channel by December 1, 2008 failing which it would consider taking ‘stringent action’ against India TV.
Speaking to exchange4media, Rohit Bansal, COO, India TV, clarified, “All across the globe, video/audio messages of Osama Bin Laden and interviews of self-styled commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Taiba have been broadcast by the media. These stories have exposed the perpetrators of terror. The entire objective of India TV was similar.
“Our newsroom engaged the two terrorists in on-air conversations and secured vital information about their numbers, intentions and their foreign origin. These conversations helped security agencies give compelling answers on their accent and provide first-hand confirmation to the world that they had come from Pakistan and not from Hyderabad in the Deccan. Our courageous journalists and resourceful journalists helped security agencies generate specific and information that one terrorist, Shadullah, was using the mobile phone of a Swedish lady, Lisa Ringner, kept hostage in Room No.1856 at The Oberoi,” added Bansal.
He further added, “The other terrorist Imran Babar, holed up in Nariman House, was using the phone belonging to another hostage, Holtzberg Gaverlein. India TV repeatedly asked these terrorists to surrender, as they were surrounded by security agencies and appealed to them to release the hostages. India TV will be sending a comprehensive reply to the MIB.”
It may be recalled that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had summoned the news media owners along with the IBF and NBA Chiefs to express concern over the coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks. The coverage was seen harmful enough for the police to even blackout news channels on November 28, 2008 until the government intervened and cancelled the order.
In the meeting the government officials said that the news media, by way of the distance of the cameras revealed important details of the operation in Mumbai that was detrimental to the overall operation. The media owners argued that there was lack of structured information from the government to the broadcast media at present. Sources informed that the officials in the meeting agreed that a process of information dissemination had to be put in place. It was also agreed that the news broadcasting fraternity would train its reporters further in this area, to be able to make an informed decision on where to draw the line in crisis coverage.