Televsion still going ballastic on terror attacks

Barkha Dutt - India Economic Summit 2010

Barkha Dutt

Four, five or six … if all of them were low-intensity ones, does it matter?
Yet as it was unfolding on a major arterial road in Pune, television channels were understandably in the dark far away in New Delhi. So what does Barkha Dutt does to allay the fears? Read on, as she enlists four-five experts and all of them talking sense.
Even if your were not born on Shelock Holmes or Nancy Drew, a look at the facts:
All on one side of a small stretch of the road, advanced circuitry used but still low intensity means less lethal ammunition used. Not much damage done with the cycle-laden terror packets.
The bottomline conclusion of the experts if you did not guess it: The perpetrators wanted to send out a message.
But this is how Barkha’s goes about on prime time (names of experts are not needed, I guess:

Expert 1: Pune has seen quite a bit of history and lethal attacks so given the magnitude of this blasts, I think there is not much into it than making a point of something. What, we don’t know.
Barkha: Obviously we do not want to spread panic at this moment, but my question is ….

Expert 2: The material used cannot even qualify for fireworks but the advanced circuitry was used. I think this was just to send out a message of some sort.
Barkha: Obviously we do not want to spread panic at this moment, but my question is was it not directed at Sushil Kumar Shinde who took over as minister …

Expert 3: We do not know because these things are planned well in advance by terrorists, and though Shinde was confirmed as a chief guest well in advance for an award function (near the blasts), he cancelled it very late and it was known only a day in advance that he would be the home minister. And if the terrorists did knew about him getting the home ministry … (interrupted)
Barkha: Yes and that is why my question to is that Mr Shinde is seen as a tough minister. Was this blasts…

In between, call goes through to the Home Secretary who says the guy injured ‘has been picked up for questioning’.
Barkha: That was the home secretary from DELHI and obviously we are not trying to create panic, but the lone injured is being treated as a suspect … (First version of the minister who too is gathering hear-say info from a distance)

I am sure Barkha has travelled abroad and seen how journalists elsewhere operate. I also am sure Arnab must have also wanted to know as many details to draw inferences ahead of others because ‘the nation wants to know..’
And I am pretty sure the first thing that the nation wanted was a reassurance.
That the blasts were of low intensity. Whether the intensity part of it was by design or a disaster saved by accident is not known but that, on a busy night before Raksha Bandhan, there were no casualties, a reassuring fact on an arterial road like this one in Pune, that has enough things going in favour of the terrorists.

Instead the ilk of Barkha’s television journalists were only keen on establishing the connect with Shinde even though we do not know for sure. And even if it is, was it important at that stage, couple of hours into the action as it unfolded bit by bit.
Obviously we are not trying to spread gloom, but … the future of Indian television is in dark. Listening Power Minister Mr Shinde, er, Moily?

PS: Minutes before the show, one gent advises Sonia Singh, Barkha’s colleague, cautioning NDTV and media not to reveal the line of investigation. (See TV footage between 8th and 9th minute). Yet the name of the suspect, Dayanand Patil, is also out.

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