The Kannada writer and thinker, Prof U.R. Anantha Murthy, on the Indian media’s role in whipping up “mass hysteria” through its breathless coverage of the recent terror attacks and the arrest of the suspects behind them:
“When any arrest is made for suspected terrorism, you invariably hear a Muslim name. Then you are told that the arrested have confessed. Who will not confess under police torture? I do not know if I would not confess to acts that I am not guilty of if I am subjected to physical and mental torture. This so-called “confession” is not valid evidence, however, in a court. By the time we learn that the arrested person is not guilty, the damage has been done.
“It is an assault on our psyche to be informed everyday that a Muslim has been caught by the police or killed in an ‘encounter’. We never know whether the encounter could have been avoided. How can the dead speak of what really took place? There is a constitutional guarantee that every ‘encounter’ killing is homicide unless proved otherwise through an impartial and transparent enquiry.
“Our nation-state does not seem to take this provision seriously for everything is okay if you can generate a mass hysteria.
“In my state of Karnataka, I now hear everyday that the “master-mind” of the terror attacks has been caught. If we doubt the authenticity of the story we are considered unpatriotic and anti-national. This surely is the beginning of fascism.
“As a citizen I want to ask this question: Why should the media give out names of all the arrested under suspicion before they are proved to be guilty? Some restraint is necessary in a civil society, for, even after they are cleared of their guilt, the damage is done. Many like me have begun to feel that we are living in a nightmarish Kafkaesque world.
“The whole nation seems to be neurotic.”
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Photograph: courtesy Outlook magazine