What is the legality of Md. Mukkaram’s shooting?


Updated: What is the legality of Md. Mukkaram’s shooting?
December 30th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Media Practice

Okay we know Mohammed Mukkaram was reckless (as is expected of most normal youngsters his age) and he paid with his life for his mis-adventure. The media has faithfully reported this, but has failed to inform us about the legality of his killing. Were the sentries at the army officer’s house within their rights to use lethal force? At best, this CNN-IBN report is not a very professionally produced one. It is not the expected role of the journalist to frame the issue within a bias of deviant and errant behaviour and then normalise the killing. In the times of terror and the media’s sudden romanticism of the army, the CNN-IBN report presents predictable sound bites that condemns Mukkaram and literally states “he deserved it”. There is not a single voice of dissent — bar that of the family. I am not taking away the seriousness of the situation. Surely the guards at the officer’s house must have been edgy themselves. Wouldn’t that have been the result of the media’s incessant coverage of terrorism? Watch video:

A more balanced reporting of the event by Nirmala Ravindran of India Today (link). India Today points out that both guards and policemen searched for the boy. It would appear then, that the cops could have intervened and told the army guards that he was only wanted for a traffic offence. (”Did ‘war on terror’ claim B’lore biker?” India Today, 30 Dec 2008, Nirmala Ravindran, Link)

The Hindu reports that :

While the sentries asked him to surrender, Pasha jumped from the roof and started running towards the compound wall. The police said that the sentries opened six rounds of fire, two in the air, from a Military Service Rifle 5.45 mm, and one of the bullets pierced Pasha’s abdomen. (”Intruder into Sub-Area chief’s official quarters shot dead “, The Hindu, Dec 29, 2008, Link

The Indian Express decided to go with the headline “Every Saturday, he flirted with danger”. This frames the entire situation as if Mukkaram asked for it and seeks to bias the minds of readers (”Every Saturday he flirted with danger” Indian Express, 30 Dec 2008, Johnson T A, Link). It is like arguing that everybody who is killed on Indian roads asks for it because the country has a high rate of traffic deaths. Even if we concede that Mukkaram was in the wrong place in the wrong time, the following questions should be asked:

a) whether the soldiers were in their legal right to shoot.
b) does the army have a security protocol for intruders and did the soldiers follow them


Related posts:

D’Press 31 Dec 2008
TV channels turn down govt. feed idea
Updated: US speaks, Indian media listens
Shooting for live TV
Guest Post: Shahrukh Khan and the secular media
Tags: Bias·CNN-IBN·Framing·India·India Today·Indian Media·Journalism·Media Practice·Muslims·Television·Terrorism

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