Srinagar: The families of eight youths of Safa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar are angry with the Times Now news channel for the false depiction of their children as stone pelters who killed a tourist in Narbal.
Times Now on Wednesday night broadcasted a programme titled, ‘Will Mehbooba Mufti arrest the identified pelters? India Upfront with Rahul Shivshankar’, a 56-minute debate in which the anchor claimed to have identified the stone-pelters and to “unmask” them ran pictures of eight boys from Safa Kadal area.
The pictures were displayed continuously on the screen with the names of the boys and their “ranks” such as “pelter terror commander”. Serial numbers were attached to the boys and the boy with serial number 1 was described as the “mastermind”.
The names that were shown “to name and shame them” were Saifullah Majid, the alleged “mastermind”, followed by Farzan, Basit, Shahid, Adil, Aqib, Adil, and Shahid.
Blaming these boys of “terrorising and ambushing patriots”, the visibly furious anchor termed those in the photographs as “diabolical pelter terror commanders” and asked the government to declare stone-pelters as “terrorists”.
The anchor also accused the J&K government of “shielding the terrorists”. In this Times Now “Superbreak”, a “campaign” with a hashtag “#NoMercyForPelters” and teasers reading, “End Amnesty Jail Terror” and “Traitors above Law?” were displayed regularly.
At one time the anchor shouted, “Look at their faces” when the picture of Basit, the only person in the group with a long beard, at serial number 3, was shown. The anchor demanded “India’s Azadi from terror” and went on to define how the stone pelters “fit” the definition of terrorists.
After the debate was broadcast on television and YouTube, the video and pictures of these persons went viral and came as a “shock” to their families, relatives and friends.
According to the families and relatives of these boys, they held protests in their respective areas and when they went to the police to complain about this wrongful depiction, police said they had “no information” about it.
The families also went to the office of Times Now in Srinagar, where the staffers “denied” giving photographs or any details regarding the incident to their New Delhi office.
The families and relatives including residents of Safa Kada locality assembled at Press Enclave Srinagar. They raised slogans and demanded “shutting down” of Times Now channel for spreading “murderous lies”.
“The kids are terrified after watching their pictures on television and internet,” said a wailing mother.
“Such acts force the kids to pick up arms. They were framed to create sensational news and to cover up the murder which their own forces did here,” she said.
Demanding an FIR against Times Now channel, the protesters said that if the channel claims to have proof against these boys then why did it not show it on the programme?
“If they claim to have proof, please bring it forward. If they have not, then it should be investigated where they got the photographs and names from,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad, a downtown resident who was accompanying the protesters.
“There are always complaints about this channel and its anchors, then why the government is not taking action against them?” he questioned.