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Editors’ Body To “Some Channels” Over Kanpur Violence: “Pause, Take A Look”

After Friday prayers, violence erupted in Kanpur, with members of two communities hurling explosives and bricks at one other over attempts to close stores.

The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday asked news channels to pause and take a critical look at what they did just to increase viewership and profit during the Kanpur violence, noting that their irresponsible behavior has made the national discourse coarse and the gap between communities unbridgeable.
It also called for increased vigilance by broadcasters and journalist organizations, noting that the recent incident of violence in Kanpur, which caused “unnecessary embarrassment” to the country, could have been avoided if those news outlets had heeded the country’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as the Press Council of India’s journalistic ethics and guidelines.

After Friday prayers, violence occurred in Kanpur, with members of two communities throwing bricks and throwing bombs in response to attempts to close stores in protest of BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma’s insults against Prophet Mohammad during a TV debate.

“The Editors Guild of India is alarmed by some national news channels’ reckless actions in intentionally creating circumstances that target vulnerable populations by spewing hatred against them and their beliefs,” the Editors’ organization stated in a statement.

Expectedly, there was a riot in Kanpur, accompanied by a “extraordinary trenchant response” from several countries angered by the sentiments of ruling party spokespersons, it claimed, adding that their heated statements questioned India’s commitment to human rights and religious freedom.

“The incident that caused unnecessary embarrassment to the country could have been avoided if some of the television stations had been mindful of the country’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as the journalistic ethics and guidelines issued by the Press Council of India to deal with a volatile communal situation,” the EGI said.

Instead, some of these channels, motivated by a drive to boost viewership and profit, appeared to be influenced by Radio Rwanda’s beliefs.

“The EGI requests that these channels pause and take a critical look at what they’ve done in legitimizing divisive and toxic voices, which has coarsened national dialogue and widened the gap between communities,” the Editors’ group said. “The EGI also requires more monitoring from broadcaster and journalist bodies to avoid this from happening again,” it continued.

The media exists to strengthen the Constitution and the law, not to undermine them via irresponsibility and a lack of accountability, according to the EGI.

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