Friday, April 07, 2017

Media Manipulation: India is a non-vegetarian country but false perception about vegetarian majority created

India is a country where over 70% people are non-vegetarians.

This newspaper in its lead story mentions, 'contrary to popular perception, majority of Indians are non-vegetarians'.

How innocent! It goes on to 'inform' us that 71% Indians are non-vegetarians.

So how this perception was created? This paper should have answered it.

The micro-minuscule communities, mostly of a cetrain caste group, who run the Hindi newspapers are traditionally vegetarians.

They do it with missionary zeal. Abattoirs are termed 'Qatl-khane', not 'Bucharkhana' or 'Salughterhouse'.

They do everything to target meat eating habits and link non-vegetarianism with 'tamsik pravrittti',  'violence, evil influences' et al.

This is [Rajasthan] Patrika, a mass circulated daily, which is published from half-a-dozen states and has huge circulation in Rajasthan and MP.

Similarly, Dainik Bhaskar is largest circulated daily in Rajasthan, MP and other North Indian states. These papers aggressively campaign against non-vegetarians. If there is a religious function, they publish half to full page reports, with headlines against 'non-vegetarianism'.

They run campaigns against slaughterhouses and force authorities to close them. The owners may not belong to caste that is even 1% of Indian population. But due to control over mass media, they are able to project 'set of values' and decide what is moral, what is immoral.

When right-wing groups demand shifting of meat shops, these papers side with them, openly take stand. The owners have NGOs and groups linked to them, who then hold candle-light vigils and support the movement.

The paper then publishes them prominently to create false perception that how bad non-vegetarianism is. They try their best to force the people involved in non-vegetarianism, out of their jobs. The paper tells that North Indian states have higher population of vegetarians are pro-BJP.

READ: 72% Indians are non-vegetarians, vegetarians are a minority, says RGI report

It is all a reflection of the same 'hegemony system'. You own papers that sell in millions and are read by common folk across villages. You run campaigns asking people to shun non vegetarian food, even try to stop giving eggs to tribal kids in 'angan-wadis', which not only affect their nutrition but also goes against tribals' age-old food habits.

But then, that's how it goes. The power of media. Unfortunately, people on the ground, fail to realise how easily this manipulation is done. Need of the hour is to take on these manipulators head-on and make them shed the facade of being 'unbiased' media houses. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Cow vigilantes' terror in India: Pehlu Khan lynched in Rajasthan, Muslims constantly on the target

Once again, cow vigilantes have killed a Muslim man.

Pehlu Khan, a middle-aged man, had gone to buy bovines for milk.

Self-styled cow protection group members attacked Khan and his companions. The man was murdered in cold-blood.

Vipin Yadav, Kalu Ram Yadav and Ravendra Yadav--the three culprits have been arrested.

This horrific incident has occurred in Alwar district in Rajasthan.

The private militias, known as 'Gau Rakshaks' [euphemism for illegal extremist groups who kill innocents in the name of cow] are again responsible for the murder.

Khan who belonged to Nuh, Mewat had gone to buy bovines. On way back, the mini-truck was stopped by 'Gau-Rakshaks'. He showed the receipt that he had bought the cow legally.

But the 'Gau Rakshaks' attacked him, kept thrashing him until he fell unconscious. He was admitted to hospital where he died because of the injuries. The police didn't reach the spot until the incident occurred.

READ, WATCH VIDEO: How Cow Vigilantes' Terrorism Led to Pahlu Khan's death 

The incident has occurred in BJP ruled Rajasthan. Here, earlier too Gau Rakshak groups have attacked Muslims. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje has failed to rein in the extremists.

Akhlaq, father of an armyman, was killed in his house at Bisadha near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh just on mere suspicion that there was beef stored in the fridge of the house.

Last year Minhaj Ansari was killed in Jharkhand.

Besides, a man, Mazloom Ansari, and a teenaged boy, Imtiaz, were hanged by Gau Atankis earlier.

Mazloom and Imtiaz' bodies were found hanging by the tree.

Clothes had been stuff into their mouths. Even this incident couldn't shake 'national conscience'.

They were cattle traders. The incident had occurred near Balumath, close to Ranchi. READ

The incidents have occurred across India--from Jammu and Kashmir to Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh to Haryana, Jharkhand to Madhya Pradesh and UP.

Clearly, law-and-order has collapsed in the country. India is becoming one of the most dangerous place for minorities, especially, Muslims. We must record what is happening around us. For, we don't know what future holds for us.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Concerns over false messages spreading hatred through WhatsApp in India: Worries over impact on society, law-and-order and communal harmony

Daily dose of false propaganda, communal messages, videos and hate can wreak havoc.

'The message is the medium' is an important article on this subject, which tells us how similar propaganda led to the genocide in Rwanda where 8 lakh people were killed in just 12 weeks.

Sushant Singh's powerful piece should wake us up about the situation that is arising because of such propaganda, false messages, unverified videos that are forwarded--incident of another country, termed as an incident here and blaming certain groups, even imaginary and absolutely false stories to spread communalism.

"From early 1990, anti-Tutsi articles and graphic cartoons had begun appearing in the Kangura newspaper. In June 1993, the RTLMC began broadcasting in Rwanda. The radio station was rowdy and used language of the street — like any other popular radio station, there were disc jockeys, pop music and phone-ins. It was designed to appeal to the unemployed, the delinquents and the gangs of thugs in the militia...", says the article.

READ: The Message Is The Medium

"The transcripts of RTLMC’s broadcasts are available in Duke University’s International Monitor Institute. A lot of attention has since been focused on the radio station’s efforts to direct the extermination — broadcasts told people to “go to work” and everyone knew that meant get your machete and kill Tutsis.

But what has escaped greater scrutiny is the manner — by demonising the Tutsis and encouraging hate and violence — in which the radio station prepared the ground among the people of Rwanda for genocide. The transcripts reveal RTLMC’s efforts to claim authority over the telling of Rwandan history whereby the hardline Hutu extremists exercised a monopoly over the truth".

"If radio was a powerful medium then, where you only needed a transistor and a few batteries, we have the smart phone and WhatsApp today. In the past few years, several instances have come to light where communal clashes are being planned or instigated through false videos circulating on WhatsApp."

"The police acknowledged that WhatsApp groups were used to incite the Muzaffarnagar riots in UP in the run-up to the 2014 elections. The gau rakshaks, the Jat agitators, and protestors in Kashmir also take advantage of WhatsApp groups to organise themselves."

"The government has responded by banning internet in such instances, making India the global leader in imposing internet blackouts. That is a tactical solution which prevents immediate violence. But the graver challenge of creating a fertile environment of hate, round-the-clock, by distorted story-telling continues unabated. It is not just the poor and semi-educated who are taken in by the alternative narrative of political propaganda on WhatsApp. The educated elite are equally guilty".

The complete article is available at the Indian Express website

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How easily 5,000 people gather to kill in a country known for non-violence: Communal riot in Gujarat's Patan leaves two dead

Two persons were killed in the communal riot in Patan town in Gujarat.

The incident is alarming as the mob comprised of 5,000 persons.

Newspapers report that after a minor tiff between two youths belonging to different communities, the mob gathered and attacked a village where Muslims mostly live.

That 5,000 people could gather and attack to kill, shows the level of hate and communal divide in India. 

Ironically, in India, it is common to claim and pat ourselves on back for our being a 'non-violent society'.

People are simply turning more and more bigoted, ready to attack the 'other'. And, neither the political leadership, nor any social movement, has been able to de-radicalise people in this country.

The situation is extremely worrying. Here, there is no war or food scarcity like in some African countries, where thousands can turn attackers, all of a sudden. Yet, this keeps happening in India, again and again.

Truth is that it is one of the most violent societies in the world. The use of words like 'Ahimsa' or non-violence is limited to books, speeches and essays. The ground reality is that since 1960s, communal riots have killed hundreds of thousands in this country.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Don't get surprised, even Yogi Adityanath had Muslim supporters who rooted for him in UP

Yogi Adityanath will be chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

On social media, several people reacted as if something earth-shaking had happened and as if it was unexpected.

Why? Didn't you see it coming? Ahmed bhai had already sensed it and was supporting Yogi Adityanath even when the election campaign hadn't begun at all.

On the banner for 'Eid Milan', the slogan was 'UP Dol raha hai, Yogi Yogi bol raha hai'....'

Call him opportunistic or whatever, but there were guys who knew Yogi's time was coming.
And you call Muslims monolithic!

There were some who even said that they wanted Yogi at any cost.

"No BJP, Yogi first. We prefer Yogi", that was the slogan too in Gorakhpur and surrounding region.

So when the 'Hindu-wadi' leader had so much support even among Muslims, just imagine the support among Hindus!!!

We have seen the rule of GB Pant, Sampoornanand, the most hated UP CM Vir Bahadur Singh and Kalyan Singh.

Now, we will see Yogi Adityanath leading India's most populous state, too. 

Urdu newspapers flourish in Bihar: Several prominent Urdu papers published from Patna

Bihar has been a citadel of Urdu for ages.

The state has more Urdu readers than many of the North Indian states.

In fact, Patna has nearly a dozen major Urdu papers published from the city.

The photograph [Courtesy Mahtab Alam sahab] on the left shows many papers.

While many Urdu speakers in Uttar Pradesh had a superiority complex in terms of Urdu and felt that they were guardians of the zabaan, truth is that Bihar has  been more fertile for Urdu post-independence.

Though I am a UP wala, but I have to admit the fact.

These are the Urdu newspapers published from Patna, the capital of Bihar. You can find the major papers like Qaumi Tanzeem, Taseer, Inquilab, Pindar, Jasarat-e-Bihar, Farooqui Tanzeem, Ameen, Pyari Urdu, Hamara Samaj, Sangam and Awami News.

There are some other papers too published from Bihar. Akhbar-e-Mashriq has an edition too.

Bihar had thousands of Urdu schools till a few decades back and still there are Urdu schools across the state though UP has none.

In the last two decades,  Urdu journalism has seen a revival. Though Urdu papers were strong in Hyderabad, Telangana [earlier Andhra Pradesh], Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kashmir, the situation once again improved in North India.

In Delhi and UP, there are many big newspapers now. West Bengal and Jharkhand too has several Urdu papers.

However, the situation in Madhya Pradesh is not as good, as there are few papers with declining circulation.

Among big states, Rajasthan and Gujarat don't have Urdu newspapers though almost all the states from JK, Punjab in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, have Urdu publications.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Irresponsible journalism: Hindi newspaper Nai Dunia publishes false story about fatwas against teenaged singer

This is an example of what plagues journalism today.

Hindi newspaper Nai Dunia [Nav Dunia in Bhopal], published a false story about '40 fatwas against a Muslim girl' for singing bhajans.

The truth is that there was not even a single fatwa against Nahid Hasan, the teenaged singer.

It seems that the pamphlet in Assamese was not even read correctly.

Earlier, even TV channels had carried the story that the Muslim girl was stopped from singing by Ulema.

Even CM tweeted about it and the imaginary fatwas created outrage. In fact, the pamphlet did not even mention her name. The pramphlet said that events shouldn't be held close to mosques, grave yards et al. reported 'The fatwa against Assamese singer that never was...'. Subsequently, many journalists apologised for the haste and the irresponsible reporting. If there was a pamphlet that objected to holding an event, it should be reported that way only.

Nai Dunia was once considered a respected newspaper in Central India. It is published in both MP and Chhattisgarh. Originally it was named Nai Dunia but after a title dispute, some of its editions are sold by the name 'Nav Dunia. Jagran group has taken it over sometime ago.


The fact remains that any story about 'Fatwa', even if totally imaginary, sends certain media houses into a frenzy.

This is a reflection of the bigotry and inherent biases against Islam and Muslims in the media. However, we stand by Nahid Hasan's right to sing and if there any attempt to stop her freedom to sing, we are against it, and extend our support.

In fact, papers issue fatwas these days. We hope such papers will be careful in future and won't issue 'Fatwas' on their own. Press council must take serious action and stop the channels & papers from imagining, inventing and issuing fatwas

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Open letter to Akhilesh Yadav after UP polls result: Now act as a strong Opposition, kindly ensure communal harmony is not disturbed in UP

Dear Mr Akhilesh Yadav,

                                     As Samajwadi Party's five year term in Uttar Pradesh comes to an end, I feel compelled to write you this letter, especially, in wake of the Assembly poll results.

Every citizen has hopes from the government and leaders. I too have such expectations and hence I felt that I should communicate my thoughts to you.

Five years ago, in 2012, your party had got overwhelming support from different sections of the society. Like other communities, Muslims had also voted for your party in a big way.

After SP won, the party didn't pay much attention to most of the promises made in the manifesto. The party had promised better representation to Muslims in police apart from reservation in jobs and opening Urdu schools, educational institutions in areas with Muslim population and action in case of youths framed in false cases.

One doesn't expect every promise to be fulfilled but there is always the hope that at least some attention will be paid to what was mentioned in the manifesto. Sadly, this didn't happen.

What came as a big disappointment was the handling of Muzaffarnagar riots. If, at all, top government functionaries had reached the spot immediately, got local administration to act tough and given call for Army promptly, the violence may have been controlled in the beginning.

It was the worst communal conflagration in this decade in the entire country and made thousands of people refugees on their own land. No other state, with the exception of Assam (where Congress was in power then during Kokrajhar killings) had witnessed such scale of killings and displacement in recent years.

I feel that even after the riot, due steps that could have helped people gain confidence, were not taken. People remained in camps through the harsh winter. Financial compensation can never be substitute for human lives, their sufferings.

Besides, there wasn't seriousness in ensuring justice for women who faced sexual violence during the Muzaffarnagar riot. I do not doubt your intentions for development. But the failure to control law-and-order and inability to rein in rabble-rousers was evident.

How could things turn communal every now and then? How could Dadri happen? The government had a full majority and yet the administration wasn't able to deal with communal elements sternly. If there is will, there can't be a riot. Strong governments don't allow riots and don't let incidents to take communal turn easily.

Many of my friends who are supporters of Samajwadi Party or are close to it, put blame on the 'rivals' for propaganda and for creating communal disturbances. They kept saying that things were given communal turn to pit communities against each other.

But that's what one expects a strong government to do--to deal with such elements in a strong way. I do remember an instance when a riot had begun and immediately the DM-SP were changed (new officers sent by helicopter). That was well over a decade ago.

Now kindly play a strong, constructive opposition

Now that your party is in the Opposition, I hope the experience during the last five years, will help you a lot.

We hope that the party that prides itself on principles of social justice, will take up issues of the ordinary people, the poor and backward communities in the state, work on the ground and ensure that there is no communal violence.

Your party has several MPs and scores of MLAs. SP has a strong organisation up to village level in every corner of Uttar Pradesh. I hope your party workers and leaders will join hands with common men, help raise their voice and redress their grievances.

An active opposition can do wonders in a democracy. I wish a party like SP could form communal harmony morchas that would take this message to people and ensure that harmony prevails.

Besides, I hope SP will be keeping eye on implementation of schemes and raising issues that affect people--health, education, employment opportunities and corruption. However, I wish your government had at least amended the Congress-era discriminatory law that bars Urdu as medium of instruction in UP schools.

If only you had taken this step, you would have taken a step which we would never have forgotten. Elections come and go. Lok Sabha elections aren't too far, barely two years from now. However, the issues remain and we do expect our leaders to come up with solutions.

As an Indian citizen with roots in Uttar Pradesh (hailing from Lucknow), I thought I would share my concerns. Hope you would take them positively. After all, your party plays the role of the main opposition in UP Assembly, now.

Best Wishes.


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi


1. Urdu must get its constitutional right in UP: Amend discriminatory rule that stops Urdu as medium of instruction in UP

Monday, March 13, 2017

Biggest terror attack leaves 12 security personnel dead but Indian media is not stirred: TV channels have no time for martyrs, no outrage either

This is the biggest terror strike this year. Twelve Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a blast in Chhattisgarh.

The Maoists triggered a landmine blast, which caused deaths of the security personnel. The incident occurred in Sukma district. The Maoists also looted the weapons and managed to escape.

Yet, the news of this ambush didn't stir Indian media. It was Uttar Pradesh election that was important, and hence the news didn't have much interest for media personnel.

Besides, the suspects were Maoists and the incident was in rural part of Chhattisgarh. Hence, no TRP and no interest. Neither there was any discussion about the 'dalam' involved, its leaders or their names.

Those killed included one inspector, two sub-inspectors, one head-constable and eight constables. There were no mention of the names of these martyrs in national media. No sympathy or candle light vigil or even tributes.

No reporters visited the families of these martyrs or raised questions about whether VIPs even attended funerals or not, how much compensation was announced and how martyrs' families would not lead their lives.

Political parties didn't say much. There were customary condolence messages but no protests or demonstrations. Even Opposition parties were silent--no demand for CM's resignation or even statements about poor law-and-order situation.

In the newspapers next day, it was carried but not as lead or as a major national news. Indian Express carried it in a single column. Hindustan Times probably didn't carry the report at all. At least, I couldn't find it even in brief.

A day later, most papers didn't even carry a follow-up. This is unlike the recent incident in Lucknow where a terror suspect was gunned down and it dominated prime time news. Saifullah was not accused of any killing.

Yet, the encounter made headlines and was telecast live. In sharp contrast, the biggest militant attack on security personnel, got little coverage. Online too, the few papers that carried the story, had plain coverage, based on agency reports.

Most of the headlines avoided even words like Terror or Militancy. Rather, the headlines were like, 'cops ambushed' or 'Naxal attack'. But that's a story which continues forever. That's what our media is all about. [Photo: Raipur edition of Dainik Bhaskar on March 12]

English media stories: LINK 1, Link 2, Link 3

BJP victory in Uttar Pradesh: How much media contributed to the wave?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept the Assembly election. The scale of victory has been unprecedented.

BJP and its allies won 325 seats out of 403. That's more than 3/4th majority.

BJP alone got 312 seats. SP got just 47 seats, BSP 19 and Congress 7.

Clearly, the credit goes to BJP poll managers. You have to give it to them.

The party managed to win the State. Even exit polls didn't predict such a tsunami. Even though journalists were saying that there is no wave, in the end BJP decimated the entire opposition.

Even if there was an under-current, nothing was visible. How? It seems media helped create the wave. Till a few days before polling, SP was dominating the headlines because of the family feud.

But, as election dates came closer, there was a sudden media attention towards BJP. Local Hindi media, which is known for its pro-BJP stand, began saying that the BJP was very much in the fray.

Soon, channels were now reporting that BJP was all set to gain ground. Dainik Jagran published an opinion poll even though it violated guidelines, to suggest that BJP was ahead in the election.

This was planned strategy. Steadily this created an impression that BJP was not a spoiler but a major player. Now, round the clock, TV channels began focusing on BJP. BJP supporters were interviewed and this was aired.

With news channels beaming it day and night, there was an impression that BJP was the party that was heading forward. Voters were probably not happy with SP-Congress coalition, BSP had failed to gauge the public mood.

Hence, BJP was surging ahead. Media helped the party gain momentum. Perhaps, this resulted in the situation that finally a wave was created. The voter is not a fool but he/she doesn't waste vote of losing party.

There is impact when they hear that a party is winning. And, the fence-sitters too decide that they would vote. It's a trend. And this probably happened in Uttar Pradesh. Media has an impact on public mind.

Still, you have to give due credit to BJP. They had an eye on non-Yadav OBC vote. They managed to wean out sections of Dalits too. And when it comes to media strategy, they are far ahead of other parties.

Not just mainstream media, social media plays an even more important role. With WhatsApp and Facebook reaching tens of millions in India, and the party's IT cell light years ahead of other outfits in spreading their message, one can imagine the impact of social media on the voters in UP.

Friday, March 10, 2017 News website that covers real issues, reports from Central India

Media's role is to inform the people and expose the faults in the system.

Free press that practices responsible journalism is essential for any democracy.

It helps keep checks and balances, puts politicians and bureaucrats in check, while keeping an eye on implementation of schemes and coming up with insights that help us understand the complexities and realities of our society.

In the last few years, journalism has undergone a revolutionary change. On one hand newspapers are said to be dying because of lack of readers--the situation is critical in Western countries.

On the other hand, New Media has emerged and has posed a challenge to the traditional media. Thirdly, social media has also come up as a formidable source of information and misinformation.

In this situation when media groups resort to click-baits to get hits and increase their traffic, we need hard journalism, going to the ground, reporting about issues that may not garner traffic but will reveal the situation of rural India, the healthcare system and the corruption in bureaucracy.

NewsBits is relatively new. It is about to complete a year. But it has carved a niche for itself as an independent news media from Central India--Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Vidarbha. As media industry continues to evolve and is coming to terms with the growth of social media, it is necessary that fair and ethical journalism has its place in the society.

LINK to the Website.

Truth of Casteism: People claim they are anti-caste but marry within their caste, this is casteism too

Caste plays a vital role in a person's life in India.

In a way, it like religion or gender, though some might disagree.

You may convert to another religion but can you change your caste?

It is not just Hindus, but Muslims and Christians too practice casteism in India.

This cartoon sums up the attitude towards caste in the country.

Everyone you meet keeps saying that 'caste is bad' and the 'caste system hurt India'.

In fact, many even go to the extent of saying that in 21st century, caste is meaningless.

But that's far from truth. Caste is a harsh reality in India.

This cartoon sums it up well. People do claim that they are against caste system and claim that they have never practiced it. But when it comes to marriage, they search for the partner belonging to the same caste.

The fact is that if you search for your partner from the same caste, you are also practicing casteism. You are promoting it, continuing it now and you can't say that you are anti-caste. You may justify but the reality is what it is.

Even in colleges, these days, many youngsters 'fall in love' after identifying person of their own caste. Yes, that's true. Some give the reason that they have to marry the person later and they don't want to irk their parents in old age.

There are several other similar things that are said to justify marriage and love within the caste. Like, 'same culture', 'it will be easy as our traditions are same' and 'lack of opposition from relatives'. But in in the end, it is about  your belief in the caste and practicing casteism. 

Yasin Pathan's drive to save ancient temples in India: Communal Harmony Project-35

For over four decades, a Muslim man has been trying to save the ancient temples in India.

These temples, many of them are centuries old, lacked upkeep and as a result they were falling apart.

Pathan's initiative has resulted in 34 major temples taken over by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and hence they became protected monuments, reports journalist Koushik Dutta in Hindustan Times.

He had begun the campaign in 1970s when he saw the condition of ancient Siva and Vishnu temples in Pathra town in West Bengal. The 'Save the Temples' campaign began, since then.

There was no effort on part of government to conserve the old temples. “These temples form a part of our heritage, and I am just doing my small bit to protect them for the next generation,” says Pathan.

At a time when instances of religious intolerance are reported from different parts of the country, a 66-year-old Muslim is championing the cause of communal harmony by leading a movement to preserve temples.

Retired school peon Yasin Pathan started the ‘Save the Temples’ initiative in the 1970s with an aim to protect the 18 th century Shiva and Vishnu temples in West Bengal’s Pathra village.

"The 66-year-old man kept writing to officials concerned in an attempt to draw their attention towards the temple’s depleting condition.

The ASI eventually carried out `4-crore worth of preservation work on few of the temples in 2013", the report further says. The complete report is available at this LINK.

Photo Courtesy: Samir Mondal

[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

Thursday, March 09, 2017

India's most wanted terrorists: Wanted for over 100 deaths but why no one utters their names?

They are India's most wanted terrorists. They have been involved in nearly half-a-dozen terror strikes.

Over 100 persons including women and children, died in those terror attacks.

Yet, no one talks about them. Media won't show their photographs or term them as 'dreaded terrorists'.

Several agencies including state police units, ATS teams, NIA and CBI have been on their hunt. They have been on Interpol's list watch-list too.

Due to failure of investigating agencies to arrest them, the cases in which they are main accused, have got weakened. Yet, these most wanted terrorists are never talked about in Indian media.

They are Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra and Amit Chauhan. They have been involved in four major terrorism cases apart from suspected involvement in some other acts.

READ: Engineering graduate, contractor who became India's most wanted bombers

For years, they have been absconding. It is speculated that they were in hiding in Nepal. There have also been occasional claims that they were dead or fears that they were 'eliminated'.

But, unlike other criminals whose faces are shown on TV channels on a regular basis, these most wanted aren't shown to the public. Is it because the image of terrorist created in public mind, will change?

They are involved in Ajmer Dargah Blast, Mecca Masjid Hyderabad blast case, Malegaon Blast Cases (Twice), Samjhauta Express terror attack and Modasa blast (the last case has been closed).

For more information, you can find it on NIA's website or from Interpol. Anyone who has information about there whereabouts can inform the agencies and help NIA, law-enforcers in India.

Indian Media credibility hits a new low: Sympathies towards right-wing terrorists exposed after Ajmer blast conviction

The biases of Indian media were revealed on their front pages on March 9.

Two days ago, a suspected terrorist had been shot after an 'encounter' in Lucknow. The papers had the follow-up.

Also, in the Ajmer Dargah terrorist attack, a court had delivered judgment on March 8, convicting three persons (one of them dead) while acquitting others.

What was the difference in the cases? While the Lucknow incident was splashed and most TV channels termed him 'aatanki', those convicted in the Ajmer case were not termed 'aatanki'.

This is despite the fact that the latter were held guilty by a court. They were guilty of bomb blasts at a shrine that was revered by Hindus and Muslims equally, and several people had died in the blasts.

However, these persons--Devendra Gupta, an RSS pracharak, Sunil Joshi (dead) who was also an RSS pracharak and Bhavesh Gupta, were not termed either extremist or militant. Not much was told about the accused and their role.

READ: RSS' long-term functionaries convicted in Ajmer terror strike

However, on TV channels round the clock, the Lucknow suspect was termed 'aatanki' though there was no case or even trial, and he was shot dead in the encounter. Every terror suspect has to be dealt with sternly.

If he was involved in terror and wasn't shot, everyone would still demand punishment through legal process. But is that fair that those held guilty by law of involvement in terror, are not termed 'terrorists'.

What stops you? What kind of sympathy is that? The papers the next day had called him a terrorist and the story was carried on front page and on inside pages too. But the important judgement in Ajmer blast case got little attention.

If, at all, the papers carried report, it was about Aseemanand's acquittal, not about those who were convicted. They were not termed terrorists despite their conviction in a terror case. Clearly, it showed how media didn't take the case seriously at all.

Many Delhi-based national papers carried the news in a single column. For most Hindi papers, it was about Aseemanand's acquittal though he had earlier given his confession under section 164 before a magistrate and it couldn't be retracted.

However, all these facts mattered little to media. TV channels' role was worse. While Saifullah's death was turned into a tamasha and the encounter was shown live, the questions raised were not given due attention.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

RSS' long-term functionaries convicted for Terrorism: Court holds three right-wing terrorists guilty of Ajmer Dargah blast

In a major decision, a special court has pronounced judgment in the Ajmer Dargah blast.

While Swami Asimanand and six others have been acquitted, three have been held guilty for the terror attack on the famous shrine.

They include--Devendra Gupta, Bhavesh Patel and Sunil Joshi. This is not the first case in which right-wing extremists have been sentenced for bomb blasts or terrorism.

But it is important in the sense that those accused were not mere RSS members but its functionaries--holding posts of pracharaks. Devendra Gupta was RSS pracharak. Also, Sunil Joshi who died many year ago, was a Sanch pracharak.

In the past, when Sangh members were arrested or convicted, it was mentioned that RSS didn't keep record of its members and anyone was free to come or go. Sangh maintained that it was not responsible for activities of those persons.

But Gupta and Joshi held posts in the RSS. Bhavesh Patel also had right-wing links. They may have been removed from the posts later, but they had been given duties for years to work in different states as pracharaks.

Hence, this case is important as far as Hindutva terror or right-wing terrorism in the country are concerned. Ajmer Dargah is among the most revered shrines in Asia, and is frequented by both Hindus and Muslims.

Apart from Ajmer Dargah blast, the right-wing terror attacks were made at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, on Samjhauta Express train, in Modasa town and twice in Malegaon in Maharashtra. There were some other minor attacks too.

Monday, March 06, 2017

RSS forced to sack its leader for owning up killing 2,000 Muslims in post-Godhra massacre in Gujarat!

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Kundan Chandrawat publicly boasted about killing 2,000 Muslims during the Gujarat massacre.

While offering Rs 1 crore [10 million] to anyone who beheaded Kerala Chief Minister's head, Chandrawat reminded the audience that 2,000 Muslims were killed in post-Godhra attacks.

"Bhool gaye kya Godhra ko...56 maare the 2000 qabristan mein chale gaye....ghusa diye unko andar...", he said in the speech, which was recorded and is available online too.

[Translation: Did you forget Godhra. 56 were killed, we sent 2,000 to grave yard, got them buried deep]

This is the first-even open acknowledgment in public by an RSS leader.

In the past, there have been oblique references and Babu Bajrangi's statement that was recorded in a sting operations. Many others termed it as reaction.

What is this mindset? If RSS claims to be a patriotic organisation, how can it have in its ranks people who express pride in killing thousands of their own countrymen? No one questioned RSS top leadership about it. No prime time coverage of this part of the speech.

But this was a public speech. And, Chandrawat is an RSS leader who was holding the post of Mahangar Prachar Pramukh in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Though he later expressed apology for the inflammatory speech, action was taken.

Not just RSS sacked him from the post, the local police also registered a case. It is rare because in a BJP ruled state, even low-level office-bearers of ABVP or Bajrang Dal don't get cases registered against them prominently.

So what was the reason? The fact that he publicly claimed and boasted about killings. Talking as an RSS leader, not just talking about beheading a democratically elected chief minister but also threatening to kill 3,00,000.

VIDEO: Kundan Chandrawat's speech about killing of 2000 Muslims
In the same speech, he said that 300 people were killed by Communist [SFI] cadre in Kerala and this would be avenged by killing 3 lakh [3,00,000]. Unlike an ordinary shakha worker, who can be disowned by saying that he was not a member, Chandrawat couldn't be disowned.

He was holding a post. Perhaps, this was the reason that action was taken against Chandrawat. The Sangh leader works in the Malaria department in Ujjain. His statement is not something that can be ignored.

While the part of his speech where he said, "Vijayan ka sar kaat ke la de koi mujhe...' [Someone cut Vijayan's head and get it for me", made headlines, the other aspect--acknowledging the role in post-Godhra killings hasn't got the same coverage.

Has there been any denial by any senior functionary? Was any RSS official including Sarsanghchalak asked by mediamen about reaction on this claim? There is lot of silence around. But Chandrawat has said, and it is on record, now.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Female Foeticide in India: MP village had no baby girl for decades, they were killed at birth

For decades, no girl child was allowed to be born. They were mostly killed at birth.

Finally, after 40 years, a girl born here is getting married.

While it's a welcome news, it also shows how rampant has been the killing of girl child in India.

This report tells us that villagers did not allow a girl child to survive.

A conspiracy of silence ensured no one complained to authorities, as every family was guilty, reports Shruti Tomar.

The situation started changing slightly after 2005. However, villagers are touchy about the subject. The girl Arti Gurjar is getting married this year.

People are excited as many never saw a girl's marriage and the rituals here. Such was the situation in Gumara that villagers didn’t allow any pregnant lady to come in contact with a woman who had given birth to a girl child.

READMP village infamous for foeticide to marry off daughter after 40 years

The women in this village were scared of chuna (lime), milk and tobacco while delivering a baby, because if a girl child was born, these items were used to kill her.

"I gave birth to a girl child 20 years ago, the family members didn’t dare to kill the girl child, but they forced me not to provide any food and care to her. My daughter died of starvation", says a woman.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Open letter requesting Union ministers to conduct NEET in Urdu, save future of thousands of students

Tens of thousand of students may not be able to appear in NEET.

Those who are facing this strange situation are students of Urdu medium.

While NEET is conducted in ten languages and even though very few students appear through these languages, they are included.

Recently, two languages were added but Urdu has not been included.

The CBSE conducts the examination for admission in Medical colleges. Around 50,000 Urdu medium students from different states are supposed to appear in NEET.

Surprisingly, CBSE hasn't shown any concern towards these students. Shouldn't our ministers show concern for these students? While the case is in the court and hence it may take some more time, shouldn't the government realize the students' difficulties.

The discrimination is costing students their future. We request the CBSE to stop being rigid and allow Urdu medium students to appear. Hope, ministers will understand the gravity of the situation.


Apart from Maharashtra, students from Karnataka, Telangana and some other states have also studied in school [junior college] in Urdu medium and for them it is a big shock that Urdu medium has been excluded.

The CBSE is condcuting the examination in Hindi, English apart from Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Kannada, Assamese and Bangla. The option of Urdu is not being kept despite substantial number of students.


The petition in the court has sought that ministry of health and family welfare & CBSE be asked to allow Urdu too and students who want question paper in Urdu, must get it.

We urge Honorable Ministers Mr JP Nadda and Mr Prakash Javdekar to redress it, and include Urdu in NEET. Hope Honourable ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, MJ Akbar will intervene and speak to ministers concerned and resolve the issue.


Friday, February 24, 2017

AIMIM Arrival Increases Muslim representation in Mumbai Municipal Corporation: The 'Votes Will Split' Theory Demolished

It was repeatedly being said that AIMIM's entry would hurt Muslim representation as the community's votes would further be divided.

But, on the contrary, the representation of Muslims has gone up in a big way in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the results of which have been announced.

There were 23 Muslim corporators in BMC in the last corporation. After AIMIM's entry, the figure has gone up to 28.

That's a sharp increase in Muslim presence in the corporation in India's biggest city.

Some news reports said that 31 Muslims won LINK. However, the figure seems to be 28, now. Muslim population in Mumbai is nearly 19%.

The representation was earlier 10%. Now, it has gone up to 12.3%. Surprisingly, even Shiv Sena's two Muslim candidates won the election.

Congress and NCP have fared badly. Yet, it is their Muslim candidates who had far better winning rate.

MIM could win just three seats though it performed much better in Amravati and Solapur civic bodies.

Clearly, the myth about split in votes that had kept Muslims worried for years, has been broken--at least in Mumbai.

In fact, the results again show that Congress and other parties were not giving adequate tickets to Muslims, and were unable to even shift their non-Muslim votes for Muslim candidates. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Election Commission urged to ban Tarek Fatah's programme on Zee News: 'Inflammatory statements aimed at polarizing voters ahead of UP polls'

TV channel Zee News is facing flak from Muslim groups for regularly inviting Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani-Canadian who is critical of Islam and Muslims.

Rashtriya Ulama Council (RUC), a UP-based political outfit has now made a formal complaint to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Terming him as an instrument of agencies who want to sow seeds of communal discord in the society and spreading hate among religious communities, the RUC has urged ECI to ban 'Fatah Ka Fatwa' programme.

"Just when five states are going to polls, the programme where Fatah insults Islamic figures, consistently targets Islam, tries to provoke people and uses inflammatory language, is being aired".

"The programme Fateh Ka Fatwa should be stopped in national interest", says RUC.

"It seems a conspiracy that Fatah would be allowed to air his inflammatory comments on a regular basis. These comments hurt crores of people, also poison the minds of rest of the society and lead to communal disharmony", the representation reads.

"Freedom of expression doesn't mean freedom to hurt sentiments and such statements that intend to divide the society on communal lines. It is a clear attempt to polarize voters on the eve of the crucial state assembly elections", the RUC has said.

What makes Tarek Fatah a favourite for right-wing in India? Though a Pakistani, Fateh has been living in Canada. He has earlier said that he wished to see India divided. Yet, right-wing seems to be in love with him.

The reason is apparently his diatribe against Islam and Muslims. Of late, a campaign has also begun on social media--to unsubscribe Zee News and write to Asian Paints that sponsors the 'Fatah Ka Fatwa' programme.

For example, see this petition addressed to KBS Anand, the managing director and CEO of Asian Paints, urging him to stop sponsoring the programme. There are several other campaigns on social media, against Zee News and Tarek Fatah, these days. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Casteist campaign: Dainik Bhaskar faces flak for targeting Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati in its hoardings in poll-bound UP

Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar is facing criticism for its promotional campaign.

Just when UP elections are round the corner, it has come up with these hoardings.

Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Misa Bharti has also objected to it, in her tweet.

She wrote, 'Surrogate advertising for BJP in worst possible manner by a media house, the casteist way!'.

The hoardings target two leaders, two caste groups and two parties.

Hence, there is outrage. There is no mention of BJP that is also an important party in UP.

Hence, there has been a visible anger. Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and BSP's Mayawati are being attacked here.

It is like Dainik Bhaskar would bring the change, and you will no longer hear or read about these politicians! Is Bhaskar contesting election or it wants to drop covering SP-BSP. The same group, Dainik Bhaskar, had got CM Akhilesh Yadav to inaugurate the Bhaskar website?


The hidden biases are very clear, when BJP is not even named.

The hoardings don't at all talk about BJP's communal campaigns for years--from the era of Temple movement till recent communal speeches of its leaders, or from its numerous efforts to stoke communal passions, right from Kashi to Kairana in recent years.

Dainik Bhaskar is not known for fair journalism. For years, it has played the role of 'judge, jury and executioner'. Though it claims to have highest circulation among newspapers [Jagran also makes similar claim], it has very low credibility.


For those who can't read Hindi script, one of the hoarding says, 'Na Daliton ki Rani, Na Yadav ki kahani'. The other billboard has the line, 'Na Maya ka jaal, Na Akhilesh ka klesh'. There have been protests against these advertisements, complaint to DM, Election Commission and complaint to police too.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Firing in Quebec city mosque in Canada leaves 5 Muslims dead: Growing Islamophobia

In an extremely sad news, gunmen have reportedly fired at a mosque in North America.

The incident occurred in Quebec in Canada.

Five persons have been feared dead in the attack.

Two persons have been arrested for the shooting, reports said.

The killings have taken place just after Donald Trump ordered ban on Muslims from several countries.

It suggests that racists have got emboldened after the US elections.

Later reports suggested that six persons were killed in the attack. News reports said that two suspects were held for the shootings.


The killer was identified as Alexandre Bissonnette, a youth with far-right views. Now he has been charged with six murders.

But will it be called Terrorism. Isn't it White Terrorism or Racist Terrorism or White supremacist Terror?

Till now, when a man even commits massacre in the West and is White, he is termed as either 'lone wolf', 'gunman', 'shooter' et al.

Media never calls him terrorist. When identity is known--that the killer is White, even media reports say, 'his motive is not killer yet' though his racist or anti-Muslim views are known by then.


Alexandre studied Political science and anthropology.

He is a fan of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is known for her anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim stand in France.

On his Facebook page, he declared his admiration for her.

Ironically, such a tragic incident --the firing at mosque, took place in adjoining Canada that has opened its gates to immigrants.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Seven IED blasts yet it was not termed Terrorism, national media pays no attention

Serial blasts rocked Assam on Republic Day.

The banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is suspected to be behind the serial IED blasts.

Besides, there were blasts in Manipur too.

But did you hear about them?

Did you read the news in papers? There is little chance because TV channels didn't find it newsy enough.

National newspapers also ignored it. There were no front page reports. ULFA is a banned terror outfit. But when it is behind any explosion, its members are not called terrorists or even extremists.

The blasts are not termed as 'terror acts' either. The blasts took plcae in Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Charaideo in Assam almost simultaneously, reports News 18.


"Militant groups had called for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations in the northeastern region", the report further said. Some other papers reported the news but it didn't become a 'breaking news' at all.

Doesn't it indicate failure of BJP-led government in Assam? Were there any questions raised on law-and-order situation in North Eastern state! Any panel discussions on why situation fails to improve in Assam.

Interestingly, 'terrorism' becomes 'insurgency' in media, though ULFA is responsible for maximum number of deaths due to terror in India. Take for example this PTI report carried in The Hindu. LINK


Times of India reported that, "A group of school children going for the Republic Day celebration at Dibrugarh had a miraculous escape when a bomb planted under a culvert exploded in front of them".

"In Manipur, the first explosion took place adjacent to the compound wall of a government college close to an Assam Rifles camp at Singjamei area in Imphal West. Another bomb went off near a CRPF camp at Mantripukhri a few minutes later", it further wrote.


"At least seven militant outfits under the conglomerate of United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) including Ulfa (I), NSCN (K) and Corcom of Manipur had called for a boycott the Republic Day celebration in the region", reported Times of India.

"Manipur Governor Najma Heptula unfurled the tri colour amid tight security arrangements at the historic Kangla fort. In Assam, the banned anti-talk Ulfa-I exploded seven low intensity bombs at four places to mark their protest on Republic Day", the paper further wrote.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Imaginative: Madarsa students form map of India during Republic Day event

This photograph was taken at Madarsa Riyazul Uloom in Indore.

During the Republic Day function, national flag was hoisted.

The students formed a map of India.

The photograph was published in many newspapers in Indore, Western MP.

The madarsa is located in Khajrana in Indore. This particular photo was published on the front page of Prabhat Kiran.

For similar photos, click here: LINK

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Imam recites verses from Quran: Message to Donald Trump against racism, religious discrimination

A Muslim religious leader read out Quranic verses, giving a clear message to US President Donald Trump.

Imam Mohamed Magid was among the 26 religious leaders representing different faiths who were to participate in the service, which is a tradition from the times of George Washington.

Magid was expected to recite Azan but he chose to read out from the holy Quran.

The message was loud and clear. You have to respect the differences in colour, race and religion. ..the imam chose two passages from the Quran with clear political implications, especially at a time of racial and religious strife, when many American Muslims feel marginalized and mistrusted", mentions CNN.

Addressing the capitol's power brokers, including Trump's family and Vice President Michael Pence, Magid read first in Arabic and then provided an English translation. The first verse he read was from Surah Al-Hujarat, in which God says:

"O humankind, We have created you a single male and female (Adam and Eve) and made you into nations and tribes and communities, that you may know one another. Really, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you, and God has all knowledge..."

The second verse he read was from Surah Ar-Rum: And among the signs of God is the creation of heaven and earth, and the variation in your languages and your colors. Verily, in that are signs for those who know."

A spokesman for Magid said his recitation of the verses had been approved by officials at the Washington National Cathedral. "After the election, when a lot of things were said about Muslims, and there were questions about Muslims' loyalty, these verses were intended to convey the message that we must come together and respect diversity -- that God made us this way," said Rizwan Jaka, board chairman at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

150 killed in Indore-Patna Express train disaster were victims of terrorism: Who are these terrorists?

As many as 150 persons who were killed in Indore-Patna Express train tragedy were victims of a terror attack, say investigative agencies.

A bomb was planted on the track and the blast had caused derailment and the large-scale devastation--deaths of innocent passengers.

The blast was engineered by Motilal Paswan and two others--Uma Shankar and Mukesh who had planed the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), causing the fault in the tracks, reports NDTV [LINK].

They had also targeted another train but couldn't derail it, say reports. Superintendent of Police (SP), East Champaran, Jitendra Rana, is quoted in media reports about the disclosure and the suspicion that Pakistan's ISI was involved in it and money was paid through a Gulf-based Dubai resident.

After the disclosure--such a sensational news by any standards, newspapers carried the report without focusing on names. Headlines talked about ISI but not about perpetrators.

Start reading this report [LINK] and while there is kite-flying, you read paragraphs after paragraphs, but names of those arrested won't be found at all.

So someone who paid the money from foreign country is immediately seen as villain because the new story is accepted but the names of the perpetrators who executed it on ground are being hidden or attempts are made to put names at the end of the reports.

Of course, no attempts to publish photos even next day or in follow-up stories. In fact, story was out of front page after the first day. Unlike other cases when media publishes photographs of 'darinde' or 'hatyare', everyone remained soft and no attempt was made to publish information about Moti, Uma Shankar, Mukesh or even handler Brajesh Giri.

In this HT report, [LINK], where are the names, after how many paras? In several Hindi papers, front page story didn't carry these names, at all. In some, these names were at the 10th or 12 page in continuation of the story.

So why this sympathy for suspected terrorists? In a disaster of such magnitude, newspapers are reluctant to publish names of those who engineered and executed it! Doesn't it tell the sad state of journalism in India! Unless there is a Muslim name, it can't be sensational. Hence, forget words like 'terrorist' or terror suspect, the references are 'three persons', 'these men' et al.

That's how our media reports Terror. Else, even those who are not linked to any violence, and just suspected of association with a banned outfit are immediately defamed and for days their photographs are published.

NOT SCARED: Say American Muslims as Donald Trump takes over as US President

Donald Trump has finally taken over as 45th president of United States of America.

Trump's campaign, the comments targeting immigrants, Hispanics and Muslims apart from the blatant Islamophobia during speeches, have surely caused concern across the world.

There are at least 3 million Muslims in America. Many American Muslims say that they are apprehensive but not scared.

Take for example, these youngsters who say that they have nothing to fear.

They are optimistic and ready to fight Islamophobia. They are proud US citizens who want peace and  goodwill among communities.

The positive aspect is that they have faith in American democracy, its society, constitution and laws. And, surprise, some may be happy with Trump's victory as a Yemeni American is quoted below.

So read and find out what US Muslims feel about Donald Trump as President:


Alia Sharrief, an Oakland rapper is not afraid. "I feel like the best way to beat a bully is to stand up to a bully and show him you ain’t gon’ take it,” she says.

“And right now, he’s all words. He ain’t got no action. And God willing, he won’t be able to do no action with the power of the people", she tells KQED. [LINK]


Ibrahim Rashid, a student, is not worried either. "I'm not scared", says Rashid, who has taken to dressing in traditional kurta tunic and keffiyeh scarf". See Huff Po [LINK] & [LINK]

Rashid is an international relations major at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. Pinned loosely to his tunic is a handmade cardboard sign that says, “I’m not scared...".

In fact, he wants to go and work, after graduation, with govt in future. Wow, that's the spirit. "I’m not scared of the future. I have a lot of hope and optimism in this country", he further says.


"..we need to stand together, support each other, be united, and fight for each other.” [Fusion.NET]


Ali Al Awaad, 33, a Yemeni American who owns a corner shop in Bay Ridge was actually “very happy.” He voted for Trump, he said, because he would be good for business and opposed Saudi Arabia, who is currently waging a war in Yemen, tells Miriam Berger who wrote this interesting piece for Fusion.NET. [LINK]


Though there are definitely signs of anxiety, Muslims say that they are not going to get bullied. "We can’t be intimidated.

"We are part of this country and we will do everything we can to battle for its heart and soul, which after this election America seems perilously close to losing", he writes in The Guardian.

"We are not discussing flight, we need to fight".

Monday, January 16, 2017

Facebook blocking users for social, political posts in India: Is it right-wing groups' mass reporting or FB India's bias?

Facebook is blocking users for posts that neither incite hatred, nor put up any objectionable content.

Users are blocked for days, at times even for a month.

Mostly, users who are popular and have huge following are being warned or blocked.

Those who are facing it on a regular basis, write in Hindi, and mostly comment on social-political issues.

Surprisingly, most of these users don't seem to violate any guidelines. There are only two explanations for this:

Firstly, most of them are critical of political parties and write against Fascism and right-wing extremism. Some of them are critical of BJP and its policies.

Secondly, those who have huge following on Facebook and are in a position to spread the message far and wide, are being targeted. This is being done by 'reporting'.

Apparently, you 'mass report' an account. When many people report, the Facebook India officials perhaps close their eyes and simply act, without checking whether the user has violated any guidelines or not.

Senior journalist Dilip Mandal has written that it seems Bahujan and Muslim writers are being targeted. "Mostly Muslims, writers who are anti-caste are targeted....posts critical of government are also removed", he writes.

"Facebook India is a corporate body and it is understandable those who have more influence in Indian society, would also be among the decision makers in FB. It is a test of Facebook's credibility. Let's see if it passes it. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lohri Festival: Remembering the Robinhood of Punjab, Dulla Bhatti alias Abdullah Khan Bhatti

Everyone knows that Lohri is celebrated in winter. The festival is associated with Dulla Bhatti. There songs praising the 'son of Punjab', which are sung on the occasion.

But who was Dulla Bhatti? How many remember him? Abdullah Khan Bhatti, a Muslim Rajput, had become a hero in Punjab during the reign of Akbar.

A historical and real life character, Bhatti's name is part of Punjabi folklore. Bhatti grew up along with Prince Salim. Bhatti had later revolted against the Emperor.

He was known for saving young girls and protecting their honour apart from his generosity. Though he also belonged to feudal class, he rebelled and fought against the powerful and sided with the poor.

Bhatti arranged girls' weddings and also gave dowry to them. The famous song 'Sunder mundriye ho!' [See song and its translation: LINK] recalls his heroic acts, especially, the story of how he saved a girl and got her married to a Hindu boy.

Though there was no priest around and he didn't know the Hindu rituals, he lit the sacred fire. As he took on the might of the Empire and helped the poor, his acts of valour and his vow to save the 'Punjabi honour' made him a legendary character.

Hence, modern writers often equate him with Robinhood. Punjabis say that terming him Robinhood is belittling him, as he rebelled on one of the biggest and most powerful empires, stood for women's honour and fought for a long period.

Bhatti was finally arrested and executed. Sufi Shah Husain's famous words about Bhatti are part of folklore. The Sufi saint said, "No son of Punjab would ever sell the honour of the land". Dulla Bhatti's grave is located in Lahore, Pakistan.

In 1956, a Punjabi movie based on Dullah Bhati was made in Punjabi. Recently, another movie was made in Punjab, India though there were certain objections to the changes made to the character and distortion of history. [Mazar photo courtesy: Wikipedia]

[Also read, an article in Scroll on Abdullah Khan Bhatti. LINK]

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Independent Media in India: Role of as voice of marginalized sections

Free media is important, everyone acknowledges. But it's difficult to be 'free' as setting up and running a media house requires moolah.

And, there is no surety of returns. In India, there is constant debate over fairness of media, lately.

Questions are raised on credibility of TV channels [and newspapers] who now a days take sides openly--either due to the ideological slant of the owners, their interests or because of funding source.

The voice of the poor and marginalised sections is heard less as 'big media' mostly focuses on issues that bring 'eyeballs', not 'serious or depressing' stories. Rural India, backward groups, minorities and many other sections of the society are not adequately reflected in reporting.

If in the year 2017, we are still talking about media not focusing on entire sections of the society, it can be imagined what was the situation a decade ago. Just think about it, when there were no 'Catch' or 'Scroll', no 'FirstPost' or Quint.

Besides, there was no social media proliferation, then. Today, anyone can write a Facebook post that goes viral or puts his own video on YouTube or use WhatsApp to broadcast certain content and make it go viral.

Today, portals give space to news and also to views. But there was a period when newspapers even ignored letters to editors. There was no way to put your voice across, if papers or channels were not willing to air it.

Does everyone remember the times though it is no too long ago. For Muslim issues, there were just Urdu papers or few blogs. Sometime even politicians were wary of taking up cause of the victims--such was the situation.

REMARKABLE ROLE: TCN'S CONTRIBUTION NEEDS TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED's role has been significant and needs to be recognised. I remember very well, how, issues concerning highhandedness of police or atrocities on weaker sections that were not carried by mainstream papers, came to public domain due to the portal.

That it appointed reporters in different cities and made them chase stories, focus on stories neglected by mainstream media and did series of special stories on important issues, is something that is really significant.

Over the years, I remember the news website doing excellent journalism. In the later part of the first decade [2006-2010], there were innumerable cases of Muslims arrested on false charges and their lives were ruined. The police version was believed immediately after arrests and no questions were asked.

Once in a while, an Indian Express would do a story, abut for most of the time, there was silence. No effort was made or interest shown to bring to us the voice of the other side. Many stories were suppressed as no one was willing to do them.

TCN's biggest achievement is that it broke this unwritten media code. Its series on torture of youths implicated in UAPA in Madhya Pradesh or indiscriminate arrests of Muslim youths in Uttar Pradesh, brought the plight of victims and police excesses to national media.

Also, it was not in complaining mode all the time, as it happens when media that focuses on minorities. Positive stories and success stories were carried on the website. It exposed politicians and mainstream media was forced to take notice.


I have never met any of the team members behind, except, two reporters who worked for it. But I have been following it since its beginning.

Personally, as a journalist and as a reader, I feel that the website has made an outstanding contribution. It was after TCN, that many other 'Muslim-centric' sites came up. Meanwhile, TCN has grown too. Now it is bilingual and more diverse.

It covers social issues apart from focusing on tribals, dalits, other weaker sections. Of course, it covers politics and comes up with analyses too. Some of the reporters who worked for TCN in the past, are now well-known journalists and writers.

And yes, another point. Urdu newspapers [or even some English periodicals-weeklies] run by Muslims were excessively Muslim-centric and their reporting was reduced to covering Waqf Board or Urdu Academy, Muslim politics and issues concerning just Muslims.

This hurt the journalists working in these groups, as they couldn't expand their horizons. Over the years, many of these reporters thought journalism was just about the particular beat or interacting with politicians.

TCN went much beyond that and its reporters broke stories, which is essential for any journalist. Further, the stories had impact. One has to work hard on the ground, get information, dig through reports, cultivate sources in order to get exclusives.

Many TCN reports came up with interesting and insightful stories. Generally, we recall work of people in the distant past and ignore the hard work that is going on around us. I wanted to write this post for a long time. TCN team's efforts must be recognised and appreciated.

I feel credit is due to for its role as an independent media organisation. It has played a major role as an institution of non-profit journalism. Thank you Kashif sahab. The team that runs it and those who support it, deserve a salute.