TODAY -
When sensation is the mantra truth is the casualty
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Col Rajesh Mishra

Imphal, April 20 2009: Packaging news has become an art and a very competitive one at that.

While I admire at the capability of some journo who write excellent head lines inciting the readers to read the entire news, it irks when without substantiating or confirming the veracity of the facts, the news is allowed to go under print.

I will urge the discernible readers to see the reportage covering Op summer Storm and decide for themselves as to where the truth, half truth and lies is.

Attributing the statement to PIB (Defense) on 19 Apr 2009 in a section of media, one of the proscribed elements has stated that a statement issued by PIB (Defense Wing) stated that 'woman and child duo were apprehended'.

Well at no stage was a statement given to the press that they were apprehended.

The statement issued to the press was that the mother-child duo was moved to relatively safer areas which is a fact.

If a particular newspaper twists the language for reasons best known to them, the fault lies elsewhere and not with the statement issued.

Referring to the statement issued by PREPAK, some newspaper reported that during Op Summer Storm five soldiers were killed and three injured, while the other newspaper reported as eight killed and three injured.

The same statement also stated that artillery guns and helicopter gunship were used during the ops and also stating that it was akin to Kargil war.

Let it be known to all that Army respects and salutes every soldier who lays down his life in the call of duty.

The dead body of a deceased soldier, wrapped in a national flagged is flown to his home town and a funeral parade is held giving the guard of honor prior to departure of the casket containing the mortal remains.

No such event was held from 11 April 09 till date.

The fact can well be confirmed from other agencies, viz.

airport.

Those who are injured will undoubtedly have to be shifted to Hospital at Leimakhong and arguably a soldier sustaining a bullet injury will have to be put on Dangerously Ill (DI) List and as per the existing procedure which can never be violated.

The information of all patients on DI list has to be given to Next of Kin of the patients amongst other agencies and there is no way that such information can ever be suppressed.

As regards the use of artillery guns and use of helicopter gunship, neither any artillery guns are deployed nor are the helicopter gunships available.

When it comes to use of force, the Army believes in the dictum, 'do not use a hammer to kill a fly' and hence only small arms were used during the ops.

In Kargil, it was war against the enemy along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) whereas Op Summer Storm is within own country and against our own people who are misguided but may join the mainstream.

Hence the level of force can never be the same.

The statement issued by PREPAK therefore was akin to Hitler's belief that "the broad mass of a nation will more easily fall victim to a big lie rather than to a small one" (Mein Kampf) .

Newspapers have also reported about the schools being closed and parents and the students being worried about the children's education and also reports about locks of the houses being broken.

Surprisingly by and large almost all the newspapers have quoted the same name while attributing the aforementioned statement which when looked in its entirety makes one skeptical.

No schools were asked to close down even for a single day.

In fact it would have helped a great deal for the conduct of the ops if the activities such as kids attending the school continued as hitherto.

Similarly, soldiers breaking locks and occupying houses is too preposterous.

Ops were being conducted in the Pat area away from the habitation and there is no question of soldiers staying in a house as it would afford them no tactical advantage.

It would be apt to mention that wherever and whenever possible, the Army will do its utmost best for the betterment of children's education as this would wean them away from falling into the clutches of anti social elements.

As regards alleged reports of houses being broken and the food grains and utensils being used, it is nothing but a deliberate attempt to slight the image of the soldiers.

By the time this report reaches the readers, 1000 kgs of rice, 500 kgs of Dal, 500 kgs of Sugar, 100 kgs of tea and 150 ltrs of cooking oil would have been distributed amongst the affected people since 13 /14 April and with all humility and at the cost of sounding slightly immodest, let me also add that this ration is from the quota of those soldiers only who are being accused of barging into people's houses. All the facts as mentioned above could have been corroborated from various sources before they are allowed to undergo print so as to present balance news to the readers.

But I understand the problems of the journalists' fraternity in Manipur and so will the readers.

Many a times the newspapers have closed shops due to unreasonable demands of proscribed elements of various hues, often asking the newspapers to carry their hand out without any cut.

In fact I would have advised the commanders not to react to such vicious propaganda.

But I was appalled at the level to which the young journo had started believing in the malicious propaganda when I interacted with them on the sidelines of a lecture that I was asked to give on Defense Journalism and they in turn too were surprised as to how na�ve have they been not knowing the facts.

And it is this fact that prompted me to write this.

Well I respect the Editorial independence and on behalf of the SF I would like to assure all my friends in the media fraternity that there will never ever be an opportunity wherein they will have to close there papers because of threat by the Army.

Please feel free to write what you wish to.

But may I have a gall to remind them that there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.

The coverage of Op Summer Storm, if I may also add, contains a misleading impression if not a lie and in all fairness economical with the truth.

(The writer is PRO, Ministry of Defense.

The views expressed herein are his own and not necessarily the stated position of MOD)
.


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