Wednesday, January 13, 2021

How media hides names of criminals belonging to one religion but splashes when suspects belong to another faith


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It's sad that I have to write but we need to talk about it. 

It is a dark chapter in the annals of Indian journalism. 

This brutal gang rape took place in MP, iron rod was inserted. It's not that the names of the accused are not known. 

Most papers didn't publish them. English papers also didn't carry. Neither did portals, agencies.

If not first day, in follow-up you can write. But if a system has been internally devised when to publish names & photos in a big way, and when 'not'. One NBT report mentions a bit. Read carefully and you'll find, one of the accused's profession and you may realise. 

The second report below, just in one paper, had two names in the last line. Otherwise English papers and portals too ranging from Times Of India to India Today, Hindi newspapers, all concealed the names. 

Earlier papers had 'style sheets', that had to be adhered in reporting & writing. Not now but an unwritten code. Of the 10 cases, find the one that 'suits' agenda and then go all guns blazing. Not just accused, target everything, get houses razed. Else, keep mum.

Such level of deep shit that you can't even discuss. There are people who straight come from wings of the organisation that wants to propagate falsehoods, create a narrative that 'criminals' are only of one kind & 'we' can't be bad. They are in newsrooms, affect others' thinking.

Each day, they have worked like maniacs on the ground, whichever newsroom they entered, they ensured that even after they leave, it will continue. Such smart ways that even those who have balanced views, change, after interaction.

People take lightly or don't realise, but within states it has huge impact. It has power to change your mind, your opinion, you begin to view things differently when the medium that makes you watch, is totally compromised. Being done for long, has changed perceptions.

Doesn't take much effort, a person who is ideologically compromised, can do this, easily. The least needed is to carry or not carry names of accused in first, second paragraphs or carry even in intro, sub-headline, box or just take in the end, 'continuation' depending on 'names'.

This so cheap and 'ghatiya' that one doesn't even want to rake it up. Ironically, if you say it, you are seen as someone who has a 'different eye' and unnecessarily getting into. 

But this needs to be mentioned, anyway. #RadioRwanda was not just one day exercise.

Some persons who were really balanced, sane. I saw them change because of those around them. 

Certain benefits, things you get from the regime, it also makes you so comfortable that they too don't realise how they slide, get swayed and finally, are 'compromised'. 

Otherwise, names are published in the first paragraph itself, repeated, sometimes in sub-headlines or headlines and boxes. Photographs are published in big way, which causes anger. Then certain wings demand action, demolition of house of suspects. 

But when you don't even publish names, do it so selectively, you want to create a perception that just persons from one community are involved in crimes and this is extreme hatred, creating divide in society and paving way for fascism. Enough for now.

LINK to NBT report: Gang rape in Sindhi, accused arrested

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Right-wing majoritarianism can put countries at risk of law-and-order breakdown: Derailing democracies and parallels between India and USA

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The mob that gathered at Capitol Hill in United States of America, seems to have surprised Indian elite. 

There was 'amazement' that 'see it can happen there, so we...', as if nothing of that sort happens around us. 

Surprisingly, back home, the same vocal elite dosen't care if right-wing runs riot in our own country, able to get away with lynchings and even change public opinion besides vigilantism and pushing forward unjust laws that target minorities. 

Not long ago, a man --Afrzaul, was burnt alive and in killer's support, hundreds came out on the streets, they even went on rampage in the court premises. Recall, how cops were dealing with this mob. Quite softly. 

This was in Rajasthan a few years ago. Right-wing, its core feel it owns the country, anywhere. The right-wing core that may not even comprise a majority, but it draws its power from the 'majority' & feel it is 'patriot', owns all. 

'First class citizen' & 'second class citizen'. Officials behave differently to a mob in one case though can be harsh on victims in other case. Today, any person who throws a 'stone' is seen as the ultimate law-breaker. 

But when caste group's 'Sena' cadre was on streets, burning buses and pelting stones, it's office-bearers didn't need to run away, as if they felt they 'owned' the nation enough and that it's delegation could honorably go & meet Home Secretary.

Just watch out, the next time, some outfit belonging to 'privileged' or majority community indulges in stone pelting or arson, nobody would even talk about 'seizing property', arrests or suggestions about life term for it. 

So even after Rajasthan rampage in society, papers-people were not upset. No conversations were heard that 'these people are doing too much'. This is the normalization. They fell, 'we own the country, our people even if the do wrong, they've the right...our land'. Majoritarianism.

Unfortunately, it is not seriously taken. Media creates the perception and hence minority or marginalised groups get demonised but the mainstream bigotry and vandalism is ignored. There is definitely a threat to the nations. 

READ: Lessons from US that how White supremacist or right-wing threat can't be overlooked

Lessons for countries, other democracies from USA after Trump supporters' Coup at Capitol Hill


On the left is the screen shot of the New York Times' website. 

It says, 'Mob storms Capitol...'. On social media, there was shock across the world to see the images from Washington.

But is this unexpected? There are clearly, many lessons from societies and democracies in other countries. 

As a journalist on TV said, 'how can we (US) who go to other countries to oversee their elections, now after this...'

But the fact is that white supremacists in US (just like majority in other places) feel that they 'own' country and can get away. Law in practice becomes an expression of power and creates a clear divide between two sets of people.

A black person may face a bullet for no reason, but even after the White supremacists do this, they are treated softly. Over decades, media that too, knowingly or unknowingly, creates the perception of who 'owns the country', 'the system'. And, people in every sphere adapt.

The right-wing and the core that may not be a majority, draws its power from the 'majority'. The 'first class citizen' and the 'second class citizen' in other countries as we see. Law is fine, remains in books, but it's not applied, fairly. 

If representation of other groups, communities is better in a society, then there is some hope, somewhere. Otherwise, in any majoritarian society, the 'core'--the supremacists among them, have tremendous privilege, power and even their worst acts, are seen as just an aberration.

Now leave US, in an Asian country, you can have a person killed because of his name or religion, murdered in encounter or lynched, or spend years in jail. However, a right-wing thug gets away easily and even gets respect. 

So, institutions and media must be more inclusive. Majoritarianism and right-wing tilt can do this to strong countries. Institutions must be strong. The system of checks and balances is needed. America has diversity and it is more inclusive than many other countries. Hence, it will be able to deal with such a situation. But it's not easy in other countries. And, that's the lesson. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

Muslim youths save lives of four Hindu men who were trapped under rubble after mishap: Communal Harmony Project-57


When the roof of a corridor on the premises of a crematorium fell, Muslim youths rushed and saved the lives of 4 Hindus who were trapped under the debris.

Samir, Shadab and Tanvir rushed to the spot, took initiative, showed exemplary courage and presence of mind. 
They managed to rescue people and saved four lives. Speaking to journalists, they later said that at that point of time, they were only worried about the trapped people and hoping to save them. 
This incident occurred in Ghaziabad district in Uttar Pradesh. Good Samaritans always help others without looking at religion or caste in times of trouble. 
However, there is another aspect, something related that I want to discuss in this post--a phenomenon that's unfortunate & needs attention. 
A person who heads a Hindi news org, I know him for years, who claims to be a proponent of 'Hindu cause', was targeting Muslims on Facebook for a few days, and on this particular day was no exception. 
It was the biggest mishap in days, lives were lost, yet he had no tear or words, not even wrote a line about it. He spent the day in his anti-Muslim propaganda.  He was mocking the arrest of Munawar, a comedian in Indore, though there was no evidence to suggest that he mocked anyone's faith.
However, in his posts, he was suggesting that this action was not harsh enough, drawing parallels with other countries, talking about Pakistan as usual. I mean, the guy who at the drop of hat, asks the other 'aap tab kahaan the, is par kyoon nahi bole, us par kyoon nahi bole' [Where were you when this incident occurred....Why you didn't speak when this happened....]
Unfortunately, a section in our population is now at a stage where religion and identity is strangely more about obsession with the other's religion, always comparing, competing with 'others' and this competition is also in being 'more wicked, more oppressive, more evil', doing more bad, NOT in taking positive steps or spreading harmony.
So the reality is that such hate-peddlers have no concern with 'their own' either. For them, spreading hate gives them some attention on social media, may be thrill for sometime. Otherwise, Good Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians & all others, show it in real life. They act, rush, save lives as in Ghaziabad.
[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, December 30, 2020

Media covers up right-wing groups' inflammatory acts and vandalism in Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The role of local media during the violence in Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur where right-wing groups took out rallies, has been shocking to say the least.

The tilt of Hindi media and local TV channels in North India, is not a new phenomenon.

But the manner in which the acts of provocation were covered up, takes the art of 'embedded journalism' to another level. 

Despite the shocking images, neither the videos, nor the acts of extreme provocation, were reported at all. 

The incidents in all the three places--Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur, were given a twist and headlines were similar in TV channels as well as newspapers. 

The 'rallies were targeted' became the standard line, as if there was a communique send from an org's office and orders given to just stick to it, and not report anything at all.

Rather than questioning role of administration or how these rallies were allowed and why no responsibility is fixed on officials, papers put the blame on victims. There was nothing on TV about these acts of vandalism at mosque. 

Also, no anchor or editor questioning Collector, SP. Till a few years ago, any newspaper report would have raised questions on failure of intelligence. Also, restrictions on big gatherings continue due to Covid 19, yet, they were flouted.

But there was not a single report that mentioned these aspects. Neither it was asked why there was witch-hunt against the victims, why one-sided action taken, the houses were demolished swiftly and cases registered under NSA. 

Years ago, it was mentioned that how the vandals and rioters often boasted, 'Ye andar ki baat hai, P.... hamare sath hai'. Now, perhaps, this P might stand for Patrakar or Press too?