Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Do something..

I am appalled at the way the media has covered the events in Bombay. I am shocked at the insensitivity of the reporters. I am horrified at the risk they put the security under..just speechless.

This petition by Vishal asks the Indian courts to formulate a model Code-of-Conduct within a fixed time frame; that should be made mandatory to the TV News Channels, to regulate the 'Live' broadcast of such and similar eventualities and operations that India might face in the future.

If you see his point, you can sign up here


The Petition


My name is Vishal Dadlani. I was born in Bombay in 1973, and have lived here my whole life. I'm a musician.

Just like the rest of the world, from the moment I learnt of the attacks, I stayed up watching television. I saw our local Police try to figure things out, I watched our valiant Officers Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte arrive, and almost immediately, lose their lives. I saw the NSG and Marcos arrive and started to watch each step of their operation, when suddenly, realization dawned! Over the next thirty or forty hours, I watched, helpless and frustrated, as our very own electronic media did things that seemed blatantly wrong to me.

What they were broadcasting in the name of the news, were in fact the exact operational procedures, locations, and actions of our anti-insurgency forces! Minute-by-minute!

I don't know anything about how the Armed Forces work, and I understand nothing of terrorist-strikes and the correct media procedures involved. There are a few questions I would like to bring up, and have answered, though.

1. Is it acceptable to us that what should have been a classified operation, was in fact an open book? Are we fine with the fact that terrorists inside the besieged buildings could have had real-time access to the same news channels that we did, thus giving them complete and thorough information about the actions of our forces? Is it condonable, that some of our men may have been placed at a disadvantage (and even killed) due to the fact that the very terrorists they were trying to locate and subdue, probably knew every detail of their positions and plans?

The electronic media may defend their position with the "Freedom of the Press" slogan that has been so often invoked, but I beg to differ. I think that in the absence of responsible self-censorship, the media must be instructed to act in a particular manner, as required by on-ground reality.

The TV channels may try and say that their "live" feeds are slightly delayed, thus reducing their relevance to the terrorists. However, consider a terrorist inside a building, who has no information as to how and from which direction the forces are approaching. Then, consider the same terrorist, a few minutes later, with complete details as to where the forces have entered from, and obviously, the direction of their approach.

It was approximately forty hours after the attacks began, (and I'm told, on repeated requests from the I & B ministry) that some channels started to point their cameras away from the operations, and started to say things like "without giving away too much detail"! Too little, too late perhaps?

This was obviously a huge mistake. I think it's crucial that this blunder not be repeated, and to that effect, a code of conduct be created for the electronic media in times of national crisis.

The electronic media must not be allowed to show a live anti-terrorist operation until it is safely concluded! They must obey when they are told to disperse, and they must respect cordons created by the operating force.

2. Another question I'd like to ask is whether it's correct, both morally and legally, for a TV channel to broadcast to the Nation, an alleged live phone call, purportedly from one of the terrorists. The perpetrators of a colossal crime against our Nation, being allowed to air their vitriolic propaganda on one of our own news channels! Does this seem wrong to anyone else?

3. Some TV channels also had "live-and-direct" phone conversations with guests within the hotels, in which the said guests divulge their locations and room numbers. I can't see the point, or the newsworthiness of this. Someone who has managed to get away to a relatively safe place, unknown to the terrorists, is made to give up his location. The guest, of course, assumes it will assist the rescue operation if he tells them where he is, but the TV channels broadcast this information, possibly even to the terrorists themselves. Is this OK by us? I sincerely hope not!

This a time of great anger for India. We feel violated and hurt, we feel helpless and lost. Without credible leadership anywhere, we are left to our own devices. I think it's important, however, that we set aside our anger and our emotional responses, and with a calm and collected rationale, think of the things we can change to make our country safer for all of us to live in.

If we can all make or facilitate one change each, I think it will add up to making a huge difference! I ask all of you to join in and sign the following petition. Hopefully the Courts will take cognizance of our opinion, and help us to make this small change that will keep our Nation and the defenders of this Nation a little safer in any future eventuality of this nature.


We, the undersigned, citizens of India, humbly pray for the following reliefs;

1. That this Hon'ble Court call for the complete and unedited footage from all TV News Channels broadcasting the attacks 'live', starting from 9:30pm on Wednesday 26th November 2008 and until the morning of Saturday the 29th November 2008 and examine the same by itself or through any appropriate agency as appointed by it, to investigate and determine the manner in which sensitive information pertaining to the movement of Counter-Insurgency Operations was broadcast 'live'.

2. That this Hon'ble Court take cognizance of the broadcast of inflammatory propaganda (if any), on any such TV News Channels, and an appropriate Writ Order or Direction be passed by the Court against such TV News Channels as this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper.

3. That this Hon'ble Court make and issue such other Writ, Order and Direction as it may deem appropriate directing the Authorities to formulate a model Code-of-Conduct within a fixed time frame; that be made mandatory to the TV News Channels, to regulate the 'Live' broadcast of such and similar eventualities and operations.

4. That this Hon'ble Court make and issue such other Writ Order or Direction as it may deem appropriate in the matter.


Vishal Dadlani


The Undersigned (scroll down below for complete list)

From the website mediaverve

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