Telecast of a fake and undated footage unrelated to disputed area belt (DAB) of Golaghat district in Assam by a national and a regional news channel has perturbed the Centre, raising a fresh debate whether there should be a check on the unbridled freedom given to the media, especially news channels, that at times ignites violence.
The footage supplied by a regional Assamese news channel was also shown by an English national news channel on August 19 leading to fresh spurt in violence on August 20 and 21 in Golaghat. It resulted in 3 people getting killed and several persons including policemen getting injured.
The footage, sources said, belonged to some Bodo unrest that happened much earlier. The authorities noticed it when they saw that the women and men were wearing Bodo dresses and the background had no similarity with the violence hit Golaghat region. "The footage was also grainy, apparently not taken by sophisticated cameras in use nowadays that capture high quality pictures," sources said.
Top official sources said the Assam government is initiating a probe into the matter as it amounted to inciting unrest and violence between communities that resulted in loss of life and destruction of property worth crores of rupees.
If the probe manages to establish that use of wrong footage led to the violence, it can also lead to cancellation of licenses of the news channels.
Besides being just a ploy to increase TRP ratings, the agencies are looking at a deeper design in the fake video footage.
Sources said, the channel that supplied the footage to the national news channel is run by a prominent Assamese politician who may have stakes in destabilising the current government.