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.