Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Tuesday mounted a frontal assault on the sections of the electronic media for its reckless coverage of the Mumbai attacks. In his annual press conference ahead of Navy Day on December 4, Mehta said the manner in which TV channels reported India’s worst terror strike had “tactical implications” and might have worked to the advantage of the terrorists.
“When operations were taking place, the channels were reporting that commandos were being airdropped. The terrorists were in live contact with their masters, who were keeping them informed. Such minute-by-minute coverage can be detrimental to conduct of operations. We are disturbed by such reporting.” Mehta picked holes in the coverage of the 1999 Kargil war to prove that channels have traditionally not exercised restraint in their coverage of events that have a bearing on national security.
Singling out a lady journalist from the English news channel NDTV, Mehta, who is also the chairman of chiefs of staff committee, said irresponsible coverage of the war had compromised the safety of troops and led to the death of three soldiers. He said this particular journalist had cajoled an army colonel to demonstrate the firing of an artillery gun to capture a great shot on the camera. He said the colonel was later dismissed from service.
Prannoy Roy, president, NDTV, told HT: “What he said is completely untrue and malicious. We have asked for a retraction and a public apology as this amounts to defamation.” New Delhi Television is owned by Radhika Roy who is the sister of CPI-M leader and pro-China voice Brinda Karat. CPI-M party was the only political party that had openly supported China in the 1962 war with India ansd till date has not issued an apology.
General V.P. Malik (retd), who was the army chief during the Kargil war, in his memoirs Kargil — From Surprise to Victory, had written in his book that after the war was over, he mentioned to Barkha Dutt that she had let out classified information in her “professional enthusiasm” by pointing out that the army’s next objective would be Tiger Hill.