Background: Police Tuesday filed cases against two local dailies in Karnataka for carrying an article based on Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's novel that sparked clashes and riots in two towns Monday, claiming two lives and injuring many. "We have booked cases under sections I53A, 153B and 295A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) against both the newspapers for provoking the public and causing misunderstanding between two communities," Bangalore additional police commissioner A.M. Pujar told IANS here.
The first case was booked against Kannada Prabha, a Kannada daily of The New Indian Express Group (South) from Bangalore, for publishing a translated version of Taslima's article in English based on her novel "Lajja" Feb 28 in the Sunday supplement under the heading: "Parda o Parda".
The second case was booked against Siasat, a Urdu daily published from Bangalore, for a follow-up story March 1 stating that "an article based on the views of Taslima was published in a Kannada daily against the social custom/practice of wearing burqa (veil) by Muslim women".
The police also visited the newspaper offices late Monday and served notices to their publisher, editor and manager, directing them to carry an apology in Tuesday's issue and explain reasons for publishing the articles.
Both the newspapers carried an "apology" in Tuesday's issue on the front page for publishing the article and the follow-up story. But who will hold them accountable for the after effects/ damage caused to the public property?
The home minister, VS Acharya, said media needed a rule book to behave more responsibly while handling sensitive issues. Two people were killed in Shimoga in a violence sparked by an article in a Kannada daily allegedly written by Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. Replying to questions raised by members of the opposition in the legislative council, Acharya drew their attention to the restraint showed by American media while reporting the 9/11 attack on World Trade Center. "None of the media broadcast close up of dead bodies or other ghastly pictures. Our media, too, should act with responsibility," he said. While a free press was necessary in a democracy, media should not be judgemental. He felt the need for an ombudsman for media as in other sectors. Recalling the pub attack in Mangalore, he said it was another case of media hype.