Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TV channels, media houses, anchors involved in Nazi-style propaganda against Muslims in India

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

An extremely disturbing trend is being witnessed in the world's largest democracy, India.

Several media groups seem to have taken a cue from the Nazi propaganda methods and have been targeting, demonizing Muslims.

This is happening round the clock. Not only they fan hatred and have 'normalized' it, but many journalists are openly using social media to spread Islamophobia and hate towards Muslims.

It started sometime ago. In fact, among major TV channels, Zee News, was the first in Hindi while Times Now took the lead among English channels in airing such content. Certain anchors openly incite and speak the language of right-wing extremists.

No wonder, violence against Muslims in the name of cow protection, the lynching incidents, the attacks on Muslims--all these have occurred in this period when media is behaving as a mouthpiece of the hate brigade.

Initially, there were a few channels. But after the last Parliamentary election, several other media groups, owners and editors too turned far-right and appeared in a new avatar. Open display of bigotry became the norm. A new English channel, Republic, was launched. More Hindi and English news channels also started toeing the Hindutva line.

There were some channels that were perceived as slightly less biased and more objective than others. However, there were certain anchors in these channels too who began peddling hate and lies. It was as if a competition begun as to who would outdo other anchors and other channels in spreading hate towards Muslims.

India Today group that earlier had a distinct image and was believed to be practicing fair journalism, also began indulging in this propaganda. One of the anchors, Rohit Sardana, who has been brought from Zee group, has been the cheerleader of the extreme right-wingers.

In the latest incident when Kasganj, a town in Uttar Pradesh, witnessed trouble on Republic Day, the TV channels were clearly involved in communal polarizing, spreading hate on the basis of rumours and not going by facts.

Local Muslims had organised an event to celebrate Republic Day. The national flags were visible all around. Suddenly, 'Tiranga Yatra' arrived that had more Bhagwa (Saffron flags) than the national flags.

There were also batons and firearms in their hands. Provocative slogans were raised on the occasion too. It was during this Yatra, that a youth, Chandan Gupta, had hit by a bullet. He later succumbed.

However, TV channels gave it a twist as if minorities had any objection to unfurling national flag.

While Muslims were celebrating Republic Day and hoisting flag, the TV channels turned into mouthpieces of far-right propagandists and repeatedly parroted lies. LINK

Instead of questioning that who gave the Saffron forces the right to storm into any locality with Saffron flags, raise provocative slogans and rather than joining the Republic Day event, make abusive comments.

The channels went ahead, they began speaking the language of the right-wing fanatics, giving a totally different impression. Just when curfew was on in Kasganj--there was violence, houses-shops were being attacked and burnt, these TV channels were busy in reinforcing the prejudices.

Not just on TV, there were using other mediums [like Twitter] too for spreading hate. The aim was to polarize, communalize and foment trouble at a time when police and administration were trying to bring the situation under control.

Another journalist, Abhijit Majumder who is a managing editor of Mail Today [also belongs to India Today group], tweeted about another death, though there was none.

Then, there was Jagruti Shukla, who gave the open threat--her account was suspended by Twitter, but later suspension was revoked.

As a result, the situation took such a turn than when a district magistrate R Vikkram Singh, wrote on Facebook about the strategy of troublemakers going to particular areas [Muslim localities or near mosques], raising slogans and disturbing law-and-order.

But he was trolled and targeted. Finally, he had to remove the social media post. Now almost everyday, evening news and panel discussions focus on divisive issues and the debates have hit a nadir.

It's open, blatant, there is no journalism anymore, it's all about inflammatory issues that can divert people's attention and inflame passions. It is no longer journalism for positive change in society but injecting more and more hate each and every day.

1. Rohit Sardana aka walking-talking Radio Rwanda does it again

2. Man declared dead in Kasganj speaks up: People were using me to incite violence

3. Pressure on Indian official after he questioned Muslim-baiting