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Dokmoka round table stresses introspection on media role
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, June 17 - “Is contemporary society getting caught up in a culture of celebrating violence and does the disintegration of community life has anything to do with it?” wondered DGP Kuladhar Saikia at a round table discussion held over the Dokmoka lynching incident at the Regional Science Centre (RSC), Khanapara, here today.

With the State administration battling to control the fallout of the incident fuelled by an outpouring of hate posts in the social media, the discussion was an initiative for introspection and seeking solutions by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust in collaboration with the RSC and the Department of Communication and Journalism, Gauhati University.

Titled ‘Dokmoka Lynching: Role of Media and Community in Dispelling Superstition and Distrust’, the discussion was conducted by senior journalist Mrinal Talukdar and attended by an array of experts, social scientists, civil society members, academicians, science communicators, activists and media persons. Several points were raised and interventions made during the course of the two-and-half-hour-long brainstorming session.

The menace of fake news and malicious rumours purveyed through the social media was focused upon, with R Chandranathan, ADGP, Assam Police, speaking about the need to accept that the social media is a disruptive technology, and then apply human values to control it.

Other participants spoke on the necessity of proper education and sensitisation in using the social media from the school level onwards, the personal etiquette of not sharing harmful or false posts and a counter-strategy to flood the social media with positive and constructive news by the agencies concerned. The role of conventional media, too, came in for criticism with Dr Ramesh Barpatra Gohain, Advocate General, highlighting the pernicious trend of trial by the media and careless reporting of community identity of criminals, which poses a serious misuse of freedom of speech and expression. The repetitive airing of visuals with violent content by TV channels racing for TRPs, neglect and lack of understanding of deprived areas where incidents like witch hunting and lynching occur, sensational coverage of sectarian conflicts yet disregard to fact-finding reports by investigative agencies, indifference to developments in science and technology, etc., were among the issues raised that called for soul searching by mainstream media.

Other important interventions related to the continuing need for developing scientific temper, rule of law in society and human rights, constructing a proper narrative by the media to eschew hate and divisive agenda, understanding the tribal reality and working towards ending distrust between various communities in the State.

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