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Media asked not to ‘overplay’ China border incidents

New Delhi Bureau

FIR to be filed against reporters who claimed soldiers were injured in Chinese firing

— File Photo: S. Subramanium

Nirupama Rao

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told journalists that media reports were painting an inaccurate picture of the conditions along the India-China border, the government moved swiftly to scotch swirling rumours about military incursions, shooting incidents and even an imminent conflict along the Line of Actual Control.

“The Prime Minister has just made a statement that there has not been any more incursions or transgressions as compared to last year. They are at the same level. So there is no cause of worry or concern,” Chief of the Army Staff Deepak Kapoor told journalists at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai on Saturday.

And, in an indication of how seriously the government is taking the scare-mongering, the Home Ministry has decided to file an FIR against the two reporters of The Times of India who filed a story claiming Indian soldiers were injured in firing by the Chinese.

The story, ‘Two ITBP jawans injured in China border firing,’ was published as a lead in that newspaper on September 15, leading to official denials by the Foreign Ministries of both countries.

“We have taken this story very seriously. We are going ahead with our decision to take criminal action against the two reporters and we will soon file an FIR. They have quoted some highly placed intelligence source in their story. Let them appear before the court and tell who is this source who gave them information,” top sources in the Home Ministry said.

Though they refused to say what crime the two reporters would be charged with, MHA officials said Indian law proscribed the promotion of enmity with other countries.

In an interview to CNN-IBN, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan urged the media to be restrained. “I really am unable to explain why there is so much media hype on this question,” he said, expressing concern that if such coverage continued, “someone somewhere might lose his cool and something might go wrong.”

General Kapoor asked the media to exercise restraint and appealed to them not to “overplay” the issue.

No significant increase

At a press conference on the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to the G20 summit, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said there was no significant increase in the number of Chinese incursions in all sections of the LAC and peace and tranquillity continued to hold just as it had done for “some decades now.”

She also played down reports of China attempting to block an Asian Development Bank loan for projects in Arunachal Pradesh. “The Country Partnership Strategy has been endorsed by the ADB and that’s where the matter stands,” she said.

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