16 October 2019 03:01 AM

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THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 28 FEBRUARY, 2019

Indian Media Sinks to New Low: Gives Information About Ace Pilot Varthaman That He Himself Denied Pakistani Interrogators

Irresponsible and dangerous


NEW DELHI: Waging war is against media ethics and while this has been condemned over and over again, yesterday the Indian media took another giant leap into a space of utter irresponsibility. And in the process touched a new low with dangerous repercussions.

In a rush to be the first, reporters and crew descended on the residence of Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman sticking mikes into the faces of his family. Giving soundbites of the exact location, city and state of his residence, his family details et al.

This after the pilot had with great dignity and compusure---as per the video of part of his interrogation by the Pakistani forces---refused to give certain information. Despite being a prisoner and having emerged from a MiG crash, near death from assaulting mobs and the realisation that he was not a captive in Pakistani hands, the fighter pilot did not lose his compusure. Addressing the clearly senior Pakistani officer interrogating him as ‘sir’ that is part of military procedure the Wing Commander made it clear that he was not allowed to part with information about his background and his current details.

In the very first video released by the Pakistanis, he gives his name, his service number and that he is a flying pilot that is information in the public domain. He refuses, despite the fact that he is hurt and bleeding, to give more details with a composed response, “I am sory sir that is all I am supposed to tell you.” In another video released later where he is shown with a cup of tea, he again refuses to disclose details about his state, and other information that is classified.

But clearly not classified for the Indian media that has gone to his residence, and has violated all procedure in the rush for TRP ratings and advertising. Complete irresponsibility that has not drawn flak from either journalist bodies or for that matter the ruling and opposition political parties who seem to be as unaware of the norms of security and war as the lay person on the street.

Basic war journalism tenets make it mandatory for journalists not to give out information that could feed into enemy hands. This kicks into play in all kinds of conflict actually, where information and facts are used with responsibility to prevent prisoners and targeted groups from being placed in graver danger; and two, prevent the ‘enemy’ or the attackers from getting information that helps them against the interests of the country/people.

In the current situation, all infomration about Wing Commander Varthaman should be treated as classified. He is in the hands of the Pakistani military where both countries are poised for war. He does not even have the protection of teh Geneva Convention as a prisoner of war as war itself has not been declared. He is thus, a spy or an intruder with little on his side at the moment. And yet here again the media has jumped in to provide all possible information about the fighter pilot that he himself has denied the interrogators.

Editorial comment: Shame!

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