Never has a terror accused released on bail received the kind of welcome Times Now and Republic TV accorded to Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Purohit.
JYOTI PUNWANI’S bemused account


Never has a terror accused been given the kind of welcome on his release on bail, as was accorded to Malegaon blast accused Lt Col Purohit by news channels Times Now and Republic TV.

Exclusive’’ interviews with the accused; syrupy exchanges with his wife; running commentaries on the accused  being escorted out of prison…Republic TV even had a headline sayingcontinuous coverage’’.

As it turned out, the coverage by both was quite hilarious.

Sample the following:

First interview of Lt Col Purohit’’ went the headline on Republic TV, and this was it: Love your nation, keep serving your nation.’’  These two sentences made up the accused army man’s reply on being asked what he had to say after having been granted bail. But that’s not what the reporter wanted. So he kept at it: You were in jail for nine years, do you think it was because of the mistake of any authority ? Purohit simply said: `I’m not going to say anything.’’ Not one to give up, the reporter beseeched him: You will be out of jail tomorrow at 11 am. We expect that your first interview will be to Republic.”  Prompt came the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reply</a>:Have hopes.’’ Or was it “high hopes?”

One more exclusive followed. Lt Col speaks to Republic again’’, was the headline, with the hashtag #PurohittoRepublic.  The visual showed many reporters around the accused army man, who only kept saying:I can’t say anything’’, I will not talk about the case’’, ending withI am just happy now, that’s it, and again, Jai Hind’’.

As he left, the reporters followed him. Is there a Ganpati established in your house?’’ asked one. ```Are you waiting to meet your mother and eat?’’Food,’’ added as an afterthought.

This 1.25 minute clip was replayed four times on Republic TV. After that the anchor came on.  “That viewers, is Lt Col Purohit taking direct questions from my colleague Aditya.’’

Times Now, which ran the coverage with a headline #Justice for Purohit, and below that: Bail for army `hero’’’, also had its own `exclusive’. Its reporter repeated the same question four times:Have you been framed? Do you feel you have been framed?’’ Then came an answer, somewhat inaudible because of the surrounding noise: It is not a feeling.’’ The reporter then asked twice over: It’s not a feeling, so it’s a fact?”  The accused: “Obviously.’’

End of interview.

Then there was the Times Now reporter asking Purohit’s wife: “It’s been nine long years… How long have you not been in touch with him?’’ her voice dripping with sympathy.

“Ten days,’’ replied the wife.

All of this could have been laughed off had it not been for the opinions voiced by the anchors of both channels throughout the coverage. They made it clear that the Colonel who was arrested for the 2008 Malegaon blast which killed 7 Muslims, had been framed by the Congress to build up the theory of  saffron terror’’, in order toget into appeasement’’. The case reeked of’’ having been framed for political reasons.  The granting of bail was described asjustice having been done’’. While Republic had headlines such as Who fixed the Colonel?’’ Who will give him nine years back?’’ Times Now’s headline said Army `hero’ out on bail’. Indeed, the day before  bail was granted, Republic summarized astatement’’ from him, presenting his version.

It’s in fact full support of the Indian army for Lt Col Purohit,’’ breathed the Times Now reporter as the accused officer was escorted out of jail by army vehicles.This is also to tell the world at large that the Indian army is with Col Purohit, that he was wrongly charged with terror charges, that’s what the army is trying to say, at least from the visuals we can only think of that.’’

Interestingly, the reporter in his excitement went on to say that this was the first time the army had openly showed its support for its accused officer. Until now, its support had been through “off camera briefings, leaking of documents such as commission of inquiry reports.’’

Good to know that.

NDTV and India Today were not so gung-ho about the army. Both channels had special episodes questioning the army’s escorting a terror accused out of jail.

Times Now and Republic TV persisted in linking the case to the Congress despite the obvious reluctance of Purohit, his wife, even his lawyers, to dwell on this aspect, though all of them touched upon it. Ironically, it was left to legal eagle’’ Harish Salve, (Republic TV used this epithet whenever they mentioned Salve who had argued  Purohit’s bail application), his other lawyer Neela Gokhale and  Purohit’s wife to point out that he was only out on bail, and that he still had to face a trial where his fate would be decided by the court. When Salve said the case had to run its course, the Republic TV anchor reproached him for being toomeasured’’.

Aparna Purohit’s gentle reminder to the Times Now reporter that they still had a long way to go,  didn’t faze the latter.  She informed the accused’s wife that Harish Salve had said that the maximum punishment her husband would face would be seven years and he had already spent that much time behind bars, so he’s not going back to jail.’’
<div class="quote">"When Salve said the case had to run its course, the Republic TV anchor reproached him for being too