Scribe quits TV channel over ‘bias’

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A Kashmiri journalist working for a national TV channel has quit, alleging that it was forcing him to do “false and fabricated” stories on Kashmir and “twisting, ignoring and even killing” those based

A Kashmiri journalist working for a national TV channel has quit, alleging that it was forcing him to do “false and fabricated” stories on Kashmir and “twisting, ignoring and even killing” those based on ground reality in the Valley where the unrest triggered by a militant co-mmander’s killing is unabated.

Naseer Ahmed, an assistant editor with IBN7 Channel, a venture of Network 18, told reporters here that he submitted his resignation two days ago as he could not toe the line of his editors for it was “bereft of journalism ethics and basic standards of our profession, not to speak about any good practices”. Ahmed before joining Network 18 in November 2014 worked for Zee News Network for about 16 years. “I resigned on moral grounds. My conscience didn’t allow me to report false and fabricated stories for them,” he said.

He alleged that during the past eight weeks the IBN7 did not use the stories like the killing of an ATM kiosk guard Riyaz Ahmed Shah and lynching of assistant professor Shabir Ahmad Mongu allegedly by the security forces.

“On the other hand, I was asked to do stories which would show the people of Kashmir particularly those out on the streets to protest in bad light,” he said. He alleged that after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8 he was asked to do a story on him aimed at his “character assassination” and “when I refused they contacted their Jammu reporter who did it for them from there”.

Prabal Pratap Singh, the channel head, when contacted on the phone to know his views said, “I’m busy in a meeting. Call me after two hours.” When this correspondent spoke to him again in the evening, he said, “Our legal department will issue a statement today only”.

He also claimed that he was asked to do a story that would say the Kashmiri children cannot go to school because they fear they would be targeted by the stone-pelters on way. “I told them the Valley is under curfew and everything including educational institutions is shut,” he said adding “In contrast to this, they showed no interest in the story on how pellet guns are killing, maiming and blinding Kashmiri youth and school-going children and which has been widely covered by local, national and international media.”

His resignation letter reads, “It was nice experience to work with Network 18 for over 23 months but, during last fifty-two days, I observed television journalism in India has taken U- turn and it portrays unnecessary, biased and partial news. Nationalism to some level is fine but when an assistant professor or an ATM guard is being murdered in cold blood by government forces and one can’t report it then it, in my opinion, is no more journalism, so I have decided to call it a day. Please treat this as my resignation from today-29th August, 2016”.

Prabal Pratap Singh, the channel head, when contacted on the phone to know his views said, “I’m busy in a meeting. Call me after two hours.” When this correspondent spoke to him again in the evening, he said, “Our legal department will issue a statement today only”. He promised to mail a copy of the statement to this newspaper, as well. It had not come till the filing of this report, however.