#PrimetimeWatch: Several Channels See Masood Azhar Ban as a Win for Modi

A daily round-up of trends and patterns on news television.

New Delhi: Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was designated a global terrorist by the UN after China decided not to raise any objection in the Security Council. Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it a “big success” and the BJP tried to make a political issue out of it.

Left-wing extremists set 36 vehicles afire and then triggered a landmine blast killing 15 security personnel and their driver in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. Congress termed it a dark day, saying that Naxal violence had only increased during the BJP rule.

How did the media report these stories and more?

English channels

India Today TV

With “Jaish chief gets UN blow”, “Where will Imran hide?” and “What face does Pak have?” the channel discussed the ramifications of the development in the region.

Strategic affairs expert Sushant Sareen said India’s ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin is “right that this is the first step”. He said it has put huge pressure on Pakistan.

BJP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said it was a big day for all “India supporters”. She said the declaration is significant since Jaish had taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack, in which over 40 CRPF men were killed. More importantly, she said, China has also finally given up its support to Pakistan on terror issues and joined hands with India.

The channel also had headlines like “Curb on any financial assistance” to project how the ban would also stifle the terror group’s funding.

Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha equated the issue with the attack in Gadchiroli, saying: “It is a dark and depressing day when 15 of our commandoes have been slaughtered in cold blood by Naxals – we should hang our heads in shame.” Recalling how security personnel have been killed in Pulwama, and in terror and Naxal attacks elsewhere, he asked: “Will someone take responsibility for these incidents?”

Noting that he agrees that “there should be no politics over such killings,” Jha accused the BJP of doing just that.

He also cautioned that a ban on Azhar does not necessarily mean a stop to his terror activities. “We ensured Hafiz Sayeed was declared a global terrorist within two weeks of 26/11 – yet he fought an election in Pakistan and continues to roam freely.”


In ‘Left, Right and Centre’ too, the Naxal attack was debated.

Former diplomat K.C. Singh termed it another intelligence failure. He also charged that after the Naxals set afire the vehicles of a company, the police did not know the right procedures to deal with the situation and on how to reach the spot. He also noted that in the past “we did not fix responsibility for Pulwama or Uri” and “no heads rolled in India”.

Strategic affairs expert Seshadri Chari said it was a “sad incident” which showed “we have not learnt from previous incidents”. He advocated for greater use of technology and surveillance techniques.

Chari also pointed to the way the trap was laid by burning of vehicles so that forces may rush in. He also questioned why helicopters were not used to reach the spot and if the CRPF or forces did not have any of them due to elections.

Anchor Nidhi Razdan said the Congress has been raising the issue of accountability as lessons have not been learnt from past incidents.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said: “In other nations, top officials, ministers resign when such incidents happen. Sri Lanka is an example, but that is not the case here.”

He added how there have been over 1080 Naxal attacks in which over 5,000 people have been killed in the last five years “but accountability is missing from BJP lexicon”.

As headlines stated that there are still “90 districts in 11 states” which remain Naxal infested, Nagar said the Centre has clearly not done enough. Rs 1,000 crore was pledged after the Sukma attack, but MHA itself said it cannot procure advanced vehicles due to paucity of funds. On the other hand, he accused Modi of claiming g in Ayodhya: ‘Jab say main aaya koi dhamaka nahin hua (there has been no explosion since I came to power)’.

Times Now

With #ModiCornersMasood and “Mazboot sarkar delivers” (strong government delivers), the channel credited the BJP government for the ban.

When Kashmiri journalist Majid Haidri asked “Why was Masood Azhar released” by the BJP government following the IC-814 hijacking in the first place, anchor Navika Kumar accused him of being “full of hatred for Modi”.

She said one needs to “look at the reply Modi gave to his detractors”. The channel also had clips of how opposition leaders attacked the PM in the past. One of these was in the form of a quote: “Weak Modi afraid of Xi Jinping – Rahul”.

Kumar then asked: “All those who criticised Modi and asked bills for his foreign travel, will they go down on their knees and apologise – will they laud him now?”

Senior journalist John Dayal said the efforts to have Azhar declared a terrorist has paid off, but he said: “it is no carte blanche (complete freedom) to go and bomb Pakistan at will”.

Republic TV

With #ModiCrushesPak, the channel showed the Azhar ban to be a one-man show. It also asked: “Where is Rahul Gandhi now?”

Anchor Arnab Goswami said: “Today it is a huge victory for India” and asked a panellist representing the opposition, “and you have a frown on your face?”

Politician analyst Nishant Verma accused the Centre of showing “fake Balakot reports”.

Goswami then asked, “Which leader gives you the confidence and which leader has the maturity to be the leader in the situation we are in?”

He just found the right man to provide the answer he so wanted to hear.

Wing Commander (Retd.) Praful Bakshi chipped in: “In Modi, we have the leader everyone wants – but the only problem is these leftovers of the colonial precipitates.” Whatever that means.

Hindi channels

ABP News

The channel showed Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi campaigning in Uttar Pradesh. In what it claimed was her “first interview”, she told the correspondent that she was “fighting against BJP” and that “there is a lot of work here”.

Priyanka said the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme in which Rs 6,000 per annum will be given to farmers was an “insult to the people”. She said “people are deep in debt” and the paltry sum would hardly help them.

Asked what were the main issues, Priyanka said: “One of the key concerns in every village is that stray animals are eating their crops”. Also, she said, “Women are feeling unsafe, farmers are in distress”.

The channel also had a small report on the “politics in India over burqa ban in Sri Lanka” and noted how a “debate raged on the social media through the day on it.”

Through a headline which asked if Shiv Sena, which demanded a similar ban in India, would take the guarantee that no terror act would happen if the ban was indeed imposed, the programme took the line that it was a baseless demand.

NDTV India

The channel also had headlines in Hindi which translated to “Priyanka explains – defeating BJP is the objective” and “Every election is not fought to win: Priyanka” to state how she had explained her decision of not contesting from Varanasi.

It also showed Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath saying that “Keeping BJP out of power was the intent of all opposition parties”.

Zee News

Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary spoke about how the channel has been tracking Azhar closely since the IC 814 hijacking. He said: “It is not necessary that he would stop terror activities” even now. “Hafiz Sayeed was also declared global terrorist after 26/11 and the US even put a Rs 70 crore award on him, but he still roams free.”

Chaudhary said a permanent solution is needed “for such terrorists” and “it can come through a missile attack alone”.

He also commented on how Maharashtra Day was chosen by Naxals to attack the police. “They set vehicles afire and waited for security personnel to come in. The personnel hired a private vehicle but it seems the Naxals came to know about it as the vehicle stopped to fill fuel on the way.”

The channel reported how the number of Naxal-affected districts reduced from 161 in 2014 to 90 now and how 1,900 Naxals have been arrested and over 700 surrendered in the last five years.

Aaj Tak

The channel reported how the ban on Azhar was a diplomatic victory for India. “Masood Azhar par jhuka Cheen, utha Bharat” (China bends, India rises on Azhar) was a headline as the channel discussed how China has now also deserted Pakistan due to its support for terror.

It further said that Pakistan was now on the verge of finding itself on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The agency has since 2000 being blacklisting nations it finds non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.