In a significant blow to Indian channels, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday announced that Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will not be deported to India.
Speaking at a news conference in administrative capital Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur, the newly elected prime minister was asked about reports broadcast by a few Indian news channels claiming that the preacher was arriving in India on Thursday night. However, Mohamad said, “As long as he is not creating any problem, we will not deport him because he has been given permanent residency status.”
Among those channels, who had enthusiastically flashed the news of Naik’s deportation to India were Times Now and NDTV. Both channels had quoted unnamed sources to substantiate their claims. Times Now in particular had created an incredibly dramatic scenes on air when its editor-in-chief quickly praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi by calling it a ‘watershed moment’ for Indian diplomacy under him.
A report by NDTV had quoted an unnamed Malaysian source as saying, “He( Naik) is out of the country tonight. He will be taking a flight to India today I believe.” Times Now channel had claimed that it first broke the news adding that the development was massive.
In his inimitable style, Rahul Shivshankar, the channel’s editor, had gone on to add that Naik’s reported extradition was only possible because of Prime Minister Modi’s recent trip to Malaysia. The channel implied that the real motive behind Modi’s recent trip to Malaysia was to secure Naik’s extradition.
Ironically, none of these channels have issued an apology for misleading their audience so spectacularly. This despite the fact that both the NIA and the MHA had denied receiving any inputs from Malaysian agencies on the reported extradition of Naik.
Naik had issued a statement denying the reports of his return to India tonight. Calling the reports of his return to India ‘baseless,’ the statement from Naik said, “I have no plans to come to India till I don’t feel safe from unfair prosecution. When I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland.”
Misleading the audience in India seems to have acquired legitimacy, thanks to rampant unethical practices by channels, but this isn’t the same in developed democracies around the world. UK, for example, treats misleading of audience very seriously and regularly imposed hefty financial fines on broadcasters. In 2008, the BBC was fined nearly Rs 4 crore after the regulator found its guilty of misleading the audience.