Statement of Foundation for Media Professionals Condemning Sanatan Sanstha’s Labelling of Two India Today Journalists as Terrorists
The Foundation for Media Professionals strongly condemns the Sanatan Sanstha’s crude attempt at labeling two India Today journalists, Mohd. Hizbullah and Divyesh Singh as terrorists and linking them to the terror group IS.
The journalists had caught on tape two Sanstha activists, Haribhau Krishnna Divekar and Mangesh Dinkar Nikam, confessing to their involvement in two bomb blasts at Thane and Vashi in 2008. Six Sanatan Sanstha members had been charged by the Maharashtra ATS of involvement in these terrorist acts but only two were convicted in August 2011. Aaj Tak ran this story on October 08.
The same day, the Sanstha published on their website their photographs declaring the investigative journalists as terrorists and asking members of the public to report them to the police if spotted.
The Sanstha also posted malicious content in what appears to be a news item, titled “HVP Secretary Advocate Sanjiv Punalekar’s letter to senior government officers. In this, the Sanstha says of the reporters, “These persons who were dressed as Hindus could be Pakistanis or even ISIS terrorists.”
Such scurrilous and malicious witch-hunting by the Sanatan Sanstha is an attempt not only to intimidate the journalists but also to muzzle the larger media. It is also possible that the Sanstha, by putting a ‘look-out notice’ against them on their website may set its lynch mobs after the journalists concerned.
It may be recalled that members of the Sanatan Sanstha have been accused of involvement in the 2008 bomb blasts in Maharashtra. Their alleged involvement in the murders of rationalists Dabholkar, Pansare and Kulbargi and journalist Gauri Lankesh is being investigated.
The Foundation for Media Professionals also demands that authorities take appropriate action against the Sanatan Sanstha and preserve press freedom.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President
Manoj Mitta, Director