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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Campaign against Dainik Jagran for communal reporting, newspaper copies burnt across UP: Biased journalism affecting credibility of media

The photographs on the left shows a leading Hindu religious guru, Yugal Kishore Saran Shastri, burning a copy of Dainik Jagran.

Shastri who is based in Ayodhya, has been running a campaign against Dainik Jagran, which he calls a divisive and communal newspaper because of its allegedly one sided and biased reports.

Shastri, a priest, who is also a peace activist, has been running a campaign, urging people to boycott this Hindi newspaper and subscribe any other paper.

On Saturday, once again calls to boycott Jagran surfaced.

On social media, hundreds were targeting the paper in the wake of the false reporting during the Bijnore violence. Muslim girl was eve-teased and later her family members were gunned down but the paper gave a wrong and completely fabricated turn.

Upset, social media users began trending 'boycott_Jagran' and 'BanJagran' on Facebook and Twitter. But will it work? Why Dainik Jagran is always at the forefront when it comes to inflammatory reporting that divides the society on communal lines?

Throughout the decade of eighties, Jagran led the Hindi press in Uttar Pradesh, when it came to poisoning the minds of the readers. During the Rath Yatras, it was known for its clear extreme right-wing leanings.

It became notorious for exaggerating and misreporting. As it was the paper with largest circulation, [it still is, though Dainik Bhaskar is close now], it managed to influence the readers and even changed perceptions.

The communalism in cities and towns of UP during eighties and nineties was a result of this 'propaganda journalism'.

Even today, Jagran remains a newspaper where pro-Hindutva stories are given preference.

Almost everything is presented with the view to give impetus to the movement, and hide or misreport facts, if they have the potential to affect BJP or Hindutva brigade.

How to tackle the biased newspaper(s)?

Newspaper is a product. When you go to restaurant and get bad food, don't you complain! Similarly, find phone number which is generally on last page and insist on talking to editor or owner.

Tell them why you are going to stop the paper's subscription. Also, if the reports are false and can create communal situation, FIR can be registered. Even if police doesn't register case, a complaint works.

From Press Council to Minorities' Panel and Human Rights Commission, there are umpteen forums. There can be complaints. If there is a report that fans communal hatred and has potential to divide society, take delegations and submit memorandums against newspaper to Chief Minister, Ministers, DGPs, DMs, other officials.

Also, lawyers can do a lot, private complaint can be filed in the court, with owner and editor as party. The day, owners, start getting dragged to courts, no one will dare to write insensitive and false reports. Also, when hawker or salesperson come, do tell them clearly why you won't subscribe the newspaper.

There are many more ways. Peaceful, democratic, legal means. These are basic things which are required. Common people including illiterates and villagers take all these steps when it comes to injustice.

However, if educated and 'persecuted' Muslims can't even do this, continue to indulge in drawing room or social media talk, remain careless about rights and duties, and expect that things will change their own, they are living in a fool's paradise. Can keep crying for ever.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Daud Khan Ramayani, Muslim man famous for Ramayan discourses passes away, Chhattisgarh mourns: Communal Harmony Project-32

Entire Chhattisgarh was in a state of mourning as Daud Khan passed away.

The 93-year-old was known for his discourses on Ramayan and life of Lord Rama [from Ramcharit Manas] that were attended by thousands.

A household name in Chhattisgarh, Daud Khan had been reciting and delivering the disourses, since 1947.

For nearly 70 years, he gave the 'Manas Pravachans' in more than 1,000 cities, town and villages across different states.

Lovingly termed 'Baba' or 'Khan Sahab', Daud Khan hailed from Dhamtari, now a separate district, which was once part of the Greater Raipur district.

His first lecture was in Allahabad University in 1947. From 1949 to 1960, he travelled from village to village, reciting the 'Ram Katha', delivering discourses about the life of Lord Rama.

Subsequently, he developed his own style--explaining Ramcharit Manas 'prasangs'. People would get entranced and said that they felt contentment and happiness after listening to him. Always agile and fit, despite his age--from UP to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh to Odisha, he would go to faraway places.

Not just Tulsi, he was inspired with Kabir too. President VV Giri had felicitated him in 1970. Later on, he got many other state-level and national awards. As per his wishes, he was buried in the grave-yard at Kurud in Dhamatri.

Top politicians, dignitaries expressed their shock at his death.  However, it was the outpouring of grief by the public, the ordinary people in Chhattisgarh, which showed the love Chhattisgarhis had for him.

Newspapers published entire pages, devoted to his life. Daud Khan Ramayani was a teacher. Apart from religious discourses, he was active in social work. Though he hardly had any extra money, he devoted himself to education of poor children.

He financed many children's education up to the graduation and engineering, especially, those from the under-privileged background. Such was the nonagenarian's popularity and his dedication that Ramayani became a part of his name.

He had command over many languages including Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi and Chhattisgarhi.

Apart from Hinduism and Islam, he had studied other religious texts, especially, Guru Granth Sahib, too.

His daughter Badrunnisa said that when at home, he would recite the Katha to family, neighbours and friends, for 45 minutes every day.

Minister Ajay Chandrakar who was his student, said that his teacher Daud Khan had a lasting influence on his life.

Chief minister Raman Singh expressed profound grief at the demise of the famous preacher.

He said that Daud Khan was to hold a Ram Katha pravachan in Raj Bhawan within a few days. Photos are courtesy Dainik Bhaskar.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#communalharmony #communalharmonyproject #india

Monday, September 05, 2016

Great women reformers of India: Savitri Phule, Fatima Sheikh who opened India's first girls' school in 1848

Savitri Phule and Fatima Sheikh had set up the first school for girls in India.

That was in the year 1848. The school was opened in the house of Fatima & her brother Usmain Sheikh.

In an era when the orthodox called it a 'sin' and were against education to women, especially, untouchables-backwards, this landmark step was taken despite fierce opposition and threat to lives.

Savitri Phule would carry an extra dress while going to the school, as cow dung was thrown on her at the instance of upper castes who were opposed the education to untoucahables, the backwards castes and women.

They threw stones at her, but nothing could shake her steely resolve and the will to educate the girls belonging to dalit, backward and other oppressed castes.

When casteism was rampant and the upper castes in Pune were opposed to Phules for the their socio-educational efforts, Fatima Sheikh extended full support to Savitribai in the endeavour. Such was the opposition that there was even attack on the lives, killers were sent at night to murder Phule.

The first school was set up in 1848 in the house of Sheikh. Fatima Sheikh taught here. Saguna Bai, another leading light of the movement, also taught here. This school was founded in Pune [then Poona], which was once the seat of Peshwas.

The British had taken over the Maratha empire in 1818 and were now firmly in saddely. Savitri Phule's husband Jotirao Phule [also spelt, Jyoti Rao Phule] were the leading reformers of the country--for their role in education, in widow remarriage, for opening educational institutions and homes for the destitute.

Jotirao mentions how English education helped expand his vision in his student years. He also writes about the positive influence of his Muslim friends. Phule was one of the first crusaders against caste system and a voice of rationalism in the era.

Mahatma Phule hoped that just like people from the White ruling class had spoken for the Blacks in USA, in India too there would be a class among Upper Castes who would fight against caste discrimination and oppression.

He had established the 'satyashodhak samaj'. His book, 'Goolamgiri' is among the most famous and enlightening texts. In fact, such is the contribution of these luminaries that hardly any other figure in that era or later generation comes close to their stature.

Salute to Savitri Phule, Fatima Sheikh--the pioneering educationists and great teachers who rebelled against society and lit the lamp of education in India. We must remember their effort, sacrifices and should get inspired to move ahead.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Indian Muslims' relationship with Hinduism, Hindu religious figures: Communal harmony project-31

These are the photos you may have often come across on the internet.

A Muslim woman, wearing a burqa, along with her child who is dressed as Lord Krishna.

On Janmashtami, I logged on to Twitter and saw Gautam Trivedi sahab's tweet.

Even if you have seen these photos many times, you feel happy to see them again.

These are all aspects from our daily lives. On one hand we hear stories of hate and discord on mass media.

But on the other hand we find such examples as innumerable Indians lead their lives in harmony, observing each other's faiths, finding nothing strange in celebrating festivals or dressing up their kids in accordance with a seemingly different culture.

Similarly, numerous schools that don't even have 5% Muslim children, are celebrating Eid every year!

These things may not be reported as much, but they need to be highlighted.

The other photos tweeted from the same account are also being posted here.

There are two more photographs below. In one of them, a Muslim couple is taking away their kid along, on the scooter.

Apparently, the child took part in fancy dress competition or was made to play Krishna's part in a school event. Another photo shows a Muslim woman, in veil, taking kids dressed as Lord Krishna.

Besides, there is another photograph that shows a Muslim teacher with the 'Bal Gopals. If anyone knows the persons who took these snaps, please do tell me, I would love to give the credit to the photographers.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#communalharmony #communalharmonyproject #india

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

8,000 killed in 30 years in Assam insurgency: Terrorism not linked to religion as terror groups' religious links in North East India prove

Just a few days ago, terrorists opened fire in a crowded market in Assam, killing 14 persons no the spot and injuring as many others.

It was one of the deadliest attacks at a public space in India, but it didn't lead to national outrage.

TV channels didn't focus on it much, and newspapers were content with small follow-up stories the next day.

The reason was probably because the outfit didn't have an Arabic or Islamic name. NDFB, a militant outfit, was the prime suspect behind the attack.

Reports didn't talk much about modules. Photos of main leaders of the groups were not shown either.

Alas, such attacks are not new to Assam, or even the entire North East. Recoveries of IEDs, killings, terrorism--all this has been a part of daily lives for millions of people in North Eastern India, for several decades.

A chart that shows figures of deaths [of civilians, security personnel and the militants] is also available along with this news item. Hundreds are killed every year in this state alone. You can read the Hindustan Times' report here.

Globalsecurity.org puts the figure of deaths at 10,000 in just one state [Assam]. Of the eight states in North East, Assam alone has seen 8,000-10,000 killings because of terrorism. The estimates depend on if you take last 20 yrs, 30 yrs or 35 years.

This figure increases manifold if its neighbouring states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur are included.

In fact, even Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh have had militant groups. And remember, they have nothing to do with Islam or Muslims.

In all these states, terror has killed thousands over decades. The figure of deaths due to terror* is among one of the highest in the world, in this region. 

[*You may call it terrorism, insurgency, radicalism, militancy or separatist movement--it's your choice but the killers are terrorists, without doubt.]

The chief outfits responsible for killings are ULFA--United Liberation Front of Assam apart from NDFB. ULFA is officially termed a terrorist outfit and is banned in India. Yet, it has one of the biggest cadres.

In terms of killings, these outfits have killed far more people--Indians, than any other outfit.

Still, wanton killings of 'Hindi speakers', 'non-Assamese', 'Bodo' or 'non-Bodo', Muslims and Biharis, are sadly taken less seriously in the media. The words like 'Rebel', 'Radical', 'Extremist', 'Insurgent' and sometime 'militant' are used, but not the word 'Terrorist'.

However, the truth is that no outfit or group stands anywhere close, not even 1/10th when it comes to the extent of killings and violence these groups have perpetrated.

The ULFA cadre belongs to Hindus. Some other outfits have other minorities including some Christians.

You may cleverly use the word 'separatist' but the fact remains that just like the terrorists in Kashmir, these terrorists in Assam have been bleeding the state for decades.

Terrorism is against humanism, against ordinary people. It is always condemnable--either it is Jihadi, Leftist, Right-wing, Islamist, Hindutva or indoctrination is by any means--for language or territory.

It harms when terror is linked to religion because it is basically irrational and absolutely incorrect. Clearly, terror can't be linked to any religion.


1. About ULFA on South Asian Terrorism Portal. READ
2. National Democratic Front of Bodoland. READ
3. Wikipedia article about Assam insurgency, ULFA and killings. READ
4. Lives lost in Assam due to insurgency. READ
5. Thousands killed in 24 years: Killings in Assam yr after yr [South Asia Terrorism Portal] READ