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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Attack on Siasat editor & Mudslinging among media houses in Hyderabad

Editor of Urdu daily, Siasat, Zahid Ali Khan was attacked in Hyderabad when he was returning home at night.

Khan's car was stopped near Mehdipatnam and filth was thrown at him by unidentified miscreants. But Siasat owners have already 'identified' the attackers and the mudslinging has begun.

Hyderabad has three major Urdu newspapers, Siasat, Munsif and Etemaad. Siasat is the oldest and most respected and credited with revival of Urdu journalism.

Khan Latif Muhammad Khan's Munsif recently took over Siasat in terms of circulation. Etemad is the latest entrant. It is owned by the Owaisi family and is clearly the mouthpiece of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) though it is also a standard newspaper in terms of quality of print and content.

When Etemaad was launched, the two old newspapers joined hands to fight Etemaad, which has got a foothold and sizeable circulation. But when it comes to mudslinging and attacking each other, these three well established newspapers cross all limits.

Every few months one gets to see this sort of campaign to defame the other group.

In the latest incident, Siasat squarely blames 'Majlis goons' for the 'dastardly act' and terms it as 'majlis ki ochhi harkat' in half-a-dozen screaming headlines.

Munsif also reports the incident on its last page and even before any police investigation is complete, gives its verdict.

The story begins with such opinionated sentence, 'Members of a political party that claims to be uniting Muslims (Ittehadul Muslimeen) intercepted the car of Khan and attempted to throw human excreta on him'. Arrey bhai reporting aur editorial ka farq bhi nahin malum kya?

Of course, it is a condemnable incident. But the newspapers and their owners are themselves to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs. They have brought their differences on the streets and trade charges on each other. The attacks are often vitriolic and personal.

Elsewhere also papers have their differnces but media houses don't splash these stories or use the paper to score over their opponents. Together they can serve Hyderabadis and Urdu jorunalism but they wash dirty linen in public so often that it causes harm to everybody including the reputation of these papers that have otherwise done a lot to raise the issues of Urdu-speakers in Deccan.

Even if you write something on a blog about Hyderabad, the anonymous brigade of both MIM and Siasat supporters turn the comments section into their battlefield and make wild allegations on each other. Twice I have to change my comments policy at various blogs to save them from this propaganda.

[Photos: The picture of Zahid Ali Khan being intercepted and an excerpt from a Siasat report]