New Delhi : Journalists covering the Dec 6, 1992, attack on the Babri Masjid were subjected to “systematic harassment” and not only were they stopped from covering the event but were instilled with a fear for their own safety, the Liberhan Commission has said in its report.
“The reporters were confined to small rooms or molested or otherwise threatened so that their attention was less on the events they were supposed to cover, and more on their very survival,” Justice M.S. Liberhan has said in his voluminous 1,000-page report on the demolition.
“Photojournalists were prevented from taking photographs or videotaping the demolition, their equipment was smashed and their exposed films were ripped open and ruined,” the report said.
The one-man panel held that the media was polarised at that time and some small sections were “possibly guilty of incitement or malicious reporting”.
The report in its conclusion chapter held that, “The media was consciously targeted by the karsevaks (Hindu nationalists) on the directions of their leaders. The leadership tried to criminally intimidate, assault and obstruct the media personnel.”
“The attack on the media is in itself an admission by the perpetrators of the events of December 6th 1992 that they were aware of the illegality of their acts,” the report said.
It said that to frustrate attempts of future investigation into the incident, the Hindu groups’ leadership present at the spot decided to stop accurate record of the events.
“The first step in this direction was to ascertain the identity of the journalists who were present at the spot. The accreditation of the media was entrusted to their own cadres who were thereby able to create and maintain accurate records of the media presence.”
“The passes for entry into the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid complex were issued by Ram Shankar Agnihotri apparently of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad),” said the report, adding that they were not issued by the district administration as required and expected.
“Despite the uncontroverted evidence of the attacks on media, there was also an unfortunate reluctance on the part of the media persons to come before the commission and to present their version and to lead evidence,” the panel noted.