Fake news against even the policetext_fields
Fake news is nothing new. We have recent examples of fake news being spread through the international media to create a justification for waging wars and coups. A lot of fake news for commercial and political interest has even found a place on the front page of our national media and prime-time talk shows of TV channels. Although it is given the fancy name 'News Planting', it really is a rogue act and criminal activity. Kerala, which claims to be enlightened and highly literate, and its media are no exception to this. It is not only those who run portals and YouTube channels that only publish fake news, speculations, and 'WhatsApp Uncles', but also mainstream newspapers and channels who are involved in this criminal and unethical practice. The Supreme Court, the Editors' Guild, and the News Broadcasters Association have warned the media to stay away from fake news several times. As in the case of any other crime, anyone can file a police complaint against those who publish fake news that misleads and creates chaos in society. However, the other day, a handful of Malayalam media outlets wrote fake news against the Kerala Police - causing an uproar. The aforementioned news was that on September 28, the NIA handed over a report to the state police chief showing that 873 officers of the Kerala Police have links with the Popular Front of India, the organization recently banned by the central government.
Following this, Kerala Police Media Centre Deputy Director V.P. Pramod Kumar issued a press release denying this. This was also published on the social media page of the Kerala Police department. However, many of the media outlets involved did not bother to correct the earlier news they had carried or publish a denial. Even otherwise, in cases where considerable damage is caused in the society through prominently displayed fake news, only nominal correction and apology are published subsequently which are mostly in a manner not to attract the attention of the people. It is not clear now whether anyone will come forward to file a complaint or take legal action against those who published that fake news, which casts doubt on the integrity of the police force and its credibility among the people of Kerala.
Regardless of who created and circulated the fake news, the role of certain sections in the Kerala Police cannot be denied in making the media unhesitating in publishing fake news. During the investigation of many major cases, especially cases with alleged terrorism links, copious fake news find their way to the media. Reports of that kind are spread in such a way as to creative a narrative on the lines the cases are meant to take their course, and thereby create a public perception accordingly. Behind it are some vested interest groups; often there are police officers too. Many people's lives have been made miserable by such false stories that had been fabricated in the past. When the issue is national security and terrorism, people hesitate to even question the credibility of the news and organizations will be scared. It is this hesitancy, fear and silence that become the fertilizer which breeds fake news and allows it to flourish. Our forces do not try to deny the fake news published in the past by quoting police sources or finding out who is behind the fake news. As warned by many political and human rights leaders in the country, clearly crafted script is being prepared at the background to place the organizations and public workers of a certain community under the shadow of suspicion by using the PFI ban as a coverup. It remains to be seen what action Kerala Police and the Home Department will take to rein in such trends.