Media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Media plays a very important role in the development of the society. But in present scenario questions like media gag arise frequently. Recently a major case of Kokrajhar, Assam got the attention of national media and the central government got compelled to take action in the form of Operation All Out. In this operation media gag was imposed.
Operation All Out
This operation was launched in December 2014. On 23rd December, NDFB militants led by I.K Sonbijit killed more then 80 people belonging to tea tribe in two districts of Assam, Kokrajhar and Sonitpur, including 21 women and 18 children. This operation was against Bodo militants to wipe out them. It was carried out by about 5000 personal from the paramilitary CRPF and 4,620 from the Indian army, 9000 soldiers in all total, addition around 2000 personal from the border forces Sashastra seema bal have been deployed to maintain stability. the Indian army been using their helicopter to carry out aerial surveys of the effected regions.
Media gag is restriction of the media to access and distribute information.It’s comes through gag order.
It prohibits information or comment from being made public. It limits freedom of press as it covers censorship and restricts access to information.
A few types of Media Gag
- During crisis situation
- Prohibition in conducting press conferences
- Individual gag
Actual Scenario of the Operation
In the initial stage of the operation, no information was passed to the media at all. After visiting the field, the journalists found out that the operation was started very late .After few days when a few Bodo militants were captured, Government pubic relations officers gave press releases to the media, no strong leader among the militants could be captured through this operation, That is why media persons feel that had they been involved, such leaders could be brought behind the bars Due to media gag, people till today don’t know whether this operation was successful or not.
Disadvantage of Media Gag
- Violation of freedom of press.
- Public is deprived of getting information.
- No chance of criticising the government.
- The success or failure of the operation is unknown to the public.
- In case a sudden problem arises, the victims will be unaware and more vulnerable.
Solutions to Media Gag
- Restriction is necessary but to an extent.
- Government press should be allowed which are reliable and give authentic information to the public.
- The reporters should be given proper training while reporting such situation.
- No such news should be broadcast which might create chaos in the society.
- Ethics of journalism should be kept in mind.
- Reporters should never be biased.
- Sensationalisation of news should not be done.
Other incidents when Gag was imposed
- Emergency Period
- Operation All Clear
- Gag on Rajnikant’s news
Voices of media persons
Sushanta Talukdar (Former co-respondent of N.E, Hindu): “Media’s involvement is required in such operations right from its inception so that follow up can be done in the later stage”. Sunit Kumar Bhuyan(Joint Editor, Protidin Times): “Due to security reasons, media should not interfere in such operations because if any information gets leaked, it will strengthen the insurgency group”. Pulak Deka(Correspondent of Tezpur, News Live): “Media should be given the right to be involved in this kind of operation because media is the only way through which the public can get information”.
Media persons are themselves contradicting each other on the issue of media gag. Although media and the public has the right to information on issues concerning the local people, but sometimes for the safety and security of the country, the media has to be kept aside. However, some basic information, results of such operations, and follow up should be provided to the people during and after the completion of such missions.