Open Letter to the Editor of Deccan Herald on child rights reporting

I sent this to “” but it bounced back. Hence, I put it up as a public open letter here.


Hello Sir,

I wish to bring to your notice a comment which I wrote on the article titled “Class VIII student turns kidnapper” dated 02 Oct 2011 (link given below). I write this mail in addition to the comment since I am not sure if the comment is just for public view or whether you read it and take action if necessary.

Text of the comment:
To the Editor,
I switched from buying another newspaper to “Deccan Herald” a few months back so as to be able to see more local news. We certainly expect a newspaper like yours to do “Respectable Journalism”. The above article though seems to me as pure sensational stuff. I have written personally to Shri Nitish Kumar, CM of Bihar about the issue about the child rights scenario there and the need for their police to act lawfully. The above case is a serious violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 as amended in 2006. A boy less than 18 years of age cannot be put behind bars and questioned by the police in treated like a criminal.
While you do not control what happenned on the ground, I would expect your journalists and yourself as Editor to say that while this happenned, it is in violation of law and that their police has to act more responsibly. I see ignorance of the law on your part while reporting this and mere need to catch the attention of the reader. I take serious objection to this. Kindly ensure that while reporting such issues, one is firstly sensitive to the child and then also know what the law says and how we should treat children. Even if one does not know law, is it not apparent that such treatment to the boy is wrong? Hoping to see better sensitivity and professionalism in research and reporting.

My suggestion:
I understand that your reporters cannot be proficient or even always aware of what the law says on such issues. It would be nice though if you have your reporter on child rights issues study that subject before he/she writes about it. In the event that is not possible, the minimum that the reporter could have done is consulted someone knowledgeable in this field, taken their opinion and then written accordingly. I am sure there would be quite a few people knowledgeable on child rights in Bangalore who would be more than happy to give you the information about the law which you can quote in the article.
Well. There may be those who may wish that you mention their name also so that they get publicity or those who may ask you to pay them for their opinion but certainly there would be others who would not ask such favours. Otherwise, you certainly have the option of consulting govt bodies like the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Board members.

Immediate action:
I understand that space is a premium for you but it would be great if you could write at least a small follow up article on this tomorrow and convey the message of why such action by the police was wrong and why they should immediately release the boy from jail and produce him before the Juvenile Justice Board (if present) in Patna.

Doing responsible journalism is in your hands. Media is very strong and needs to be so if democracy has to survive but the power has to be utilised properly.


Jai Hind !!!

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