Gujarat’s Dainik Bhaskar Plays Communal Card in Reporting Amarnath Terror Attack

Written by SabrangIndia Staff | Published on: July 13, 2017
A report in the July 12 edition of Dainik Bhaskar published from Surat carried this provocative headline: “As Terrorists Fired Bullets at Us, Bystanders were Laughing Gleefully”, completely mis-reporting the incident and the circumstances around the terror attack last Monday.

The news story is in reference to the recent attack on Amarnath pilgrims and the headline translates to “Terrorists were firing at us while bystanders laughed”. The headline is from a quote in the report, from one Rajesh Naval, a resident of Valsad in Gujarat who was apparently on the bus. Naval’s quote is neither prefaced nor followed by any explanation of how or where he spotted shopkeepers laughing at the passengers’ plight while the bus was under attack (all of this while presumably, ducking for cover). The report also contradicts several accounts in the press of Kashmiris condemning the attacks, helping survivors and vowing not to let terror affect their hospitality or assistance – something even the Home Minister Rajnath Singh has applauded.

A report in The Hindu on July 11, driver of the bus Salim Sheikh stated that he drove the bus through the firing, without stopping, He had said, “We could not see anything as it was pitch black.”

Another report by News18 details the various ways in which Kashmiris have always provided basic needs to the pilgrims, and that many rushed to the aid of the injured pilgrims.

Other reports published in Greater Kashmir allude to the tourist town of Pahalgam shutting down for a day in protest and solidarity with the victims, while another report in Rising Kashmir quotes several of the pilgrims who survived, who thank local Kashmiris for rushing them to the hospital.

In the current atmosphere, a headline like the Dainik Bhasker’s fails to perform the journalistic duty of informing its readers details accurately and fairly, and instead relies on sensationalising a violent incident.
In the guise of giving the reader a detailed first-person account from those who survived the attack, the Hindi daily chose one sentence to amplify as the headline of its piece.

Blatant Violation of Press Council Guidelines
PCI guidelines that we can refer, from here state
This goes against Press Council of India’s directive of exercising “due restraint and caution in hazarding their own opinion or conclusion in branding persons…. In the zest to expose, the press should not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comments.”  The PCI also adds:
“The press shall eschew publication of inaccurate, baseless, graceless, misleading or distorted material. All sides of the core issue or subject should be reported. Unjustified rumours and surmises should not be set forth as facts.”
"The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) would like to register its dismay and protest against the provocative headline and news report in Dainik Bhaskar’s Surat edition, dated July 12, 2017.  
As as a body of journalists, we condemn such callous reporting and demand that Dainik Bhaskar publish a corrigendum clarifying and apologising for their misleading headline, directly in contradiction of multiple survivor testimonies. "