PTI workers manning security arrangements at the Parliament House sit-in did more harm than good to their party’s image in acting the way they did against an Aaj TV, team at the daily evening event on Sunday. Behaving badly a bunch of them demanded to check the channel’s digital satellite news gathering (DSNG) van. Upon denial they climbed on to the van and roughed up the reporters and support staff performing their professional duties. This utterly condemnable act raises serious questions both about security and conduct. Organisers of the sit-ins may know the identity of these people, others do not. Setting them loose in a large gathering, aside from causing nasty situations as the present one, could cause trouble with the participants leading to chaos, even to a nightmarish security situation for the occupants of the leaders’ container.
Since it is not known what exactly urged the PTI ‘guards’ to act aggressively, one can only venture a guess. This is not the first incident of its kind. Considering the background, it seems, in the case of Aaj TV too the party zealots had not liked something they saw on the channel and decided to take out anger on anyone related they could lay their hands on. This, though is the last thing expected from the workers of a party that claims to be fighting for the establishment of ‘genuine democracy’ in this country.
First of all, these people must understand that working journalists have to report issues and events, irrespective of what different sections of opinion in society may or may not like to read or see. Second of all, political players need journalists as much to tell their story as do the journalists to report such stories. As a matter of fact, a substantial body of opinion holds that the PTI sit-in would have fizzled out had the media not been regularly giving ample coverage to the daily late evening gatherings and the party chairman’s speeches against his political rivals. In any case, tolerance for the opposing view is integral to democratic norms. It also needs to be recognised, nonetheless, that ideally coverage of stories and events should be free of any bias; in practice media bias is widespread even in advanced democracies like Britain and the US. The media have their own perspectives that may not sit well with one or the other group or party. In case they don’t, it is unacceptable for anyone to try and get validation of their views in a forcible manner. Imran Khan is therefore required to look deeper into the eyes of his uncouth party workers with a view to overcoming ignorance which led to an attack on Aaj TV team.