The article headed ‘Bad Apples in the Basket’ was published in the newspaper Star of Mysore in wake of the Tablighi Jamaat incident in New Delhi.
Sana Ejaz | TwoCircles.net
NEW DELHI — Mysore-based news publication The Star of Mysore newspaper (SOM) was censured by the Press Council of India (PCI) for its April 2020 editorial that referred to Indian Muslims as “bad apples”.
PCI is an adjudicating organization that operates under the Press Council Act of 1978.
According to the censure, the state government must not advertise in the newspaper for three consecutive months.
The Star of Mysore is an English daily newspaper launched in 1978.
The article headed ‘Bad Apples in the Basket’ was published in the wake of the Tablighi Jamaat incident in New Delhi.
“The nation is currently hosting an annoying 18 per cent of its population self-identifying as rotten apples and conduct of some sections in the population, marked by their faith and other features including their attire may bring to our mind the analogy of bad apples in the basket,” the editorial says.
The Campaign Against Hate Speech (CAHS), a collective that works towards promoting media accountability, filed a complaint with the PCI against SOM editor M Govinda Gowda and the then editor-in-chief KB Ganapathy, alleging that the newspaper was promoting and inciting hatred towards the Muslim community and violating journalistic principles by attributing individual actions to the entire community.
The complaint claimed that “the news agency is promoting and inciting hatred towards the Muslims on the grounds of religion… thereby violating a basic principle of journalism of not to attribute individual actions to a whole community to spread hatred and violence against it.”
The Indian Express reported the inquiry committee stated that “it is of the opinion that this editorial may have been written in the context of Corona pandemic but the conclusion is inevitable that it is targeting one community, i.e. the Muslims, even though the community had not been explicitly named in the editorial.”
The committee highlighted the responsibility of the press to not indulge in divisive acts and to spread the message of brotherhood among people of all communities.
The committee also refused to accept the apology given by the newspaper on April 10, 2020.
The inquiry committee further said “apology is not genuine” and had been tendered only because a mob had surrounded the offices of the newspaper. It is unfair to blame a particular community for the spread of the pandemic. There were several lapses during the relevant period and we cannot identify people belonging to a certain community as being responsible for those lapses.”
Hate Speech Beda, a collective to combat hate speech said in its Tweet
“The PCI’s order comes on the basis of a complaint filed by us in May 2020. An inquiry committee had been constituted by the PCI which recommended censure after hearing both parties over a course of approximately 2.5 years. The inquiry committee found ‘that this editorial may have been written in the context of Corona pandemic but the conclusion is inevitable that it is targeting one community, i.e. the Muslims even though the community had not been explicitly named in the editorial.”
Press Council of India censured Star of Mysore for its hateful editorial unfairly targetting the Muslim community for the spread of the pandemic. A censure effectively means Star of Mysore won't receive ads from the govt for a period of three months. 1/n pic.twitter.com/gMzQmpnHNR
— Hate Speech Beda (@HateSpeechBeda) December 27, 2022
Sana Ejaz is an independent journalist from Bihar. She tweets @SanaEjaz_