Kunal Shrivatsa

DC Ramban blows whistle against fake news portals

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As FB “journalists” harasses people and discredit genuine media…

Jammu: In absence of a clear-cut policy to check the rapid growth of illegal and unregistered portal-based news organizations operating through various social media platforms in Jammu and Kashmir, government officials are on an edge as they are frequently being blackmailed by these ‘fake’ news channels.

However, Deputy Commissioner Ramban, Mussarat Ul Islam, has taken the challenge seriously and decided to shut and book all fake news portals operating in his district.

Islam himself has a post graduate degree in media and mass communication and therefore is fully acquainted with media nuances. He has written to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ramban, Mohita Sharma seeking attention of the Police Department towards the mushroom growth of illegal and unregistered portal-based news organizations.

“On most of the occasions, they are seen interfering in smooth running of the administrative affairs and planting anti-Government stories which are largely aimed at maligning the image of the administration and always portraying them in bad light,” said DDC Ramban in his letter to SSP Ramban.

The DDC Ramban had further said that a large number of District and Sectoral Officers have complained of harassment at their hands and stated that many self-proclaimed media persons, without carrying any authentic identification, barge into their offices and start recording videos and posting them in various social media groups. If channels and journalists operating these illegal portals remain unchecked, there is every apprehension of emerging law-and-order situations which have the potential to disturb the peaceful fabric of the district.

“In the larger interest of the general public, it is requested to identify all such fake media groups which are operating without any proper registration in the district,” he said adding that it is also advised to verify the antecedents and source of funding of all so-called journalists who operate these illegal portals without any valid degree, qualification and authorization from the competent authority.

“The list of all such ‘media organizations’ and so-called journalists may be shared with this office for taking further necessary action in the matter,” said DDC Ramban.

In response to a query by Kashmir Images on Whats App, DC Ramban said that he is waiting for the list from SSP.

“They will be shut and booked,” he said.

Operating through various social media platforms, especially Facebook, these illegal and unregistered news portals are seen spreading propaganda, fake news and also indulging in blackmail of government functionaries in various districts, reports suggest.

While the district administration Ramban recently asked the police to check the veracity of illegal news portals/channels operating without registration and verification, several District and Sectoral Officers have also begun to lodge complaints against such ‘fictitious’ news portals.

Taking a cue from the district administration Ramban, initiating some sort of action against the menace of illegal and unregistered news portals, Assistant Regional Transport Officer (ARTO), Reasi on May 27 has also written to District Development Commissioner (DDC) Reasi against two such news channels claiming that they circulated a news report without verifying the facts and taking official version from his office.

In his communiqué, ARTO Reasi said that he and his team was conducting routine checking on Reasi-Pouni route on May 26 and found one vehicle carrying a Barat without having any formal permission to ply on Reasi-Pouni route which was clear violation of the provision of route permit under Motor Vehicle Act as the vehicle (Mini Bus) with registration number JK02 AB 0827 was issued a route permit for Pouni to Sunderbani.

He further said that accordingly, the vehicle was challaned for violation of permit, however, the vehicle operator, baratis and others tried to create hurdles to perform official duties by entering into a scuffle with the officials.

He said that the vehicle operator instigated the public and baratis and called up some media organization to manipulate the situation.

“The media handles/portals named Reasi Update and JK Reasi News without verifying the factual report made the false content viral,” said ARTO Reasi in his letter to DDC Reasi.

“The mushrooming of social media portals is creating unnecessary hurdles in our day-to-day official duties so it is requested to your goodself  that action warranted under law shall be initiated against unauthorized handles with a request to lodge FIR for making defamatory videos viral without taking official version into account from the concerned office/officer,” added ARTO Reasi.

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