'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.