No information on Popular Front shared with media, says IB and NIA

New Delhi: Intelligence Bureau and National Investigation Agency denied that they had shared with media any information on Popular Front of India of the media reports portraying Popular Front as a terrorist organization.

The agencies made it clear that they had nothing to do with some newspaper reports dubbing the Front as a terrorist organization in statements submitted to Press Council of India (PCI) as per the notice sent by the Council.

Popular Front had filed a complaint last year to the Press Council against the tendentious news reports that appeared in some Hindi and English language newspapers linking the organization with terror activities.

The reports published by newspapers like the Asian Age,the Deccan Herald, the Sunday Guardian and the Pioneer belonging to an publication group with Hindutwa sympathies had alleged that that Popular Front was a terrorist organization and was trying to develop relationship with Dalits and Maoists and human rights groups.

Of the 10 complaints filed, 5 were settled in July. But when some newspapers claimed that their reports were based on NIA and IB sources, Press Council sent a notice to both the agencies demanding either to confirm or deny the media claims.

When the case was considered again for hearing on Monday VK Upadhyaya, Under Secretary of Home Ministry who appeared on IB’s behalf submitted the statement which categorically refuted the claims of the newspapers.

In a similar statement NIA also denied having shared any exclusive information with the defending newspapers. Only Sunday Guardian stuck to their argument that their report was based on IB and NIA sources.

Justice Markandey Katju, the Chairman of the Council asked the newspaper to produce the basis for their report or to publish the denial statements of both IB and NIA.

Justice Katju pointed out that it is not the duty of the Council to order the media to reveal the source, but it is the duty of the newspaper to provide information about the source. The advocates appearing for Popular Front said that it was an organization working for the development of the community. It had contributed 10 Rs lakhs to Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the flood victims. Justice Katju said that it was unfair to blame an entire organization for some its members’ crimes.

Since the very agencies have denied they shared information with the concerned newspapers the Council ordered them to publish the denial statement of the agencies. The Council also dismissed the the Sunday Guardian’s averment that it would affect the credibility of the newspaper.

Though the Asian Age agreed to publish the statement the statement, the other two dailies informed that they could take a decision with the permission of the management.

Justice Katju also asked Dainik Jagaran( Meerut) and Dainik Jagaran ( Delhi ) to publish a correction that Popular Front is not a terrorist organization. The detailed judgment on the case will be published after approval from the full members’ council.

The Council also disposed of the complains of Popular Front against Inquilab, New Indian Express, Navbharat Times, Deccan Chronicle and New Indian Express with an observation that they should be more careful with their facts while publishing reports.

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