Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ayodhya verdict: Bulk SMS service banned

New Delhi, Sep 23 – Ahead of the Ayodhya verdict Sep 24, the central government Wednesday banned bulk SMS and MMS services till Saturday to check rumours and a group of editors asked the media to refrain from sensational reporting on the matter.

‘All mobile telecom services providers in the country have been asked to ban bulk short messaging service (SMS) and bulk multimedia messaging service (MMS) in all service areas with immediate effect for the next 72 hours,’ said an official statement by communications and information technology ministry.

‘The ministry of communications and information technology has issued orders (for banning bulk SMS and MMS services) in consultation with the ministry of home affairs,’ it added.

The communications and information ministry issued its order banning bulk SMS and MMS services shortly after the home ministry appealed to citizens, including media, to desist from reaching a hasty conclusion on the implication of the Ayodhya verdict scheduled to be delivered by the Allahabad High Court Friday.

Pointing out that there may be more than one judgements Friday on four different lawsuits on Ayodhya issue pending with the Lucknow bench of the high court, Home Minister Chidambaram said: ‘The issues involves complicated questions of fact and law.’

‘The judgments would have to be read carefully, and the findings of the judges on each of the issues in the four suits would have to be analysed meticulously, before any conclusions may be drawn,’ he said.

Stressing on the need to maintain peace ahead of the verdict, the home minister said: ‘It would be inappropriate to reach any hasty conclusion that one side has won or that the other side has lost.’

‘I would, therefore, appeal to all the parties to the suits as well as the general public and the media to reserve their opinions on the judgment or judgments of the special bench and not make any hasty pronouncements,’ he said.

Even the Editors’ Guild of India Wednesday asked media organisations not to broadcast or print any sensational reports during the coverage of the high court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.

The demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid Dec 6, 1992 by Hindu radicals who believed that the mosque was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram had triggered nationwide riots.

In a press release issued by the group here Wednesday, the guild asked all Indian and overseas media to ‘exercise all possible restraint in the publication and broadcast of this verdict in conformity with the highest traditions of journalism and the public duty undertaken by us.’

It cautioned that ‘no news or opinion relating to the above-stated matter may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative’.

The guild also said that there should be no speculation on the judgment before it is pronounced and neither on its consequence. Further, it directed members to convey news related to the judgment ‘in verbatim to the extent possible’.

The guild asked media personnel to adopt caution in reporting the Ayodhya verdict Friday, even as the high court imposed a gag order on media, banning their entry into the court on judgment day.

As per a guideline issued by the court, media personnel have been denied entry to the court room. The court reasoned that the room was not big enough to accommodate a large number of people.

The court, however, has taken steps to ensure that copies of the judgment are made available to the media within minutes of its pronouncement.

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