Friday, October 30, 2020

Open letter to Dainik Bhaskar: Stop publishing biased, inflammatory reports that divide society

It's shocking how journalism takes a backseat and propaganda, falsehoods and terms that are inflammatory, objectionable and divisive appear in news items of the paper.

It was a gory crime, a youth kills a girl (published on October 28, 2020) but the news was presented in Dainik Bhaskar as a case of Love Jihad. 

There was no 'alleged' as prefix or even the term in inverted commas though the reality is that there is no Love Jihad either in Indian Penal Code & Home Ministry has clearly said that this term has no legal basis.

Every day there are innumerable killings across the country but if in one case, if it is an inter-religious crime, the newspaper uses this term to strengthen this propaganda though Love Jihad was a term used by ultra right-wing groups and it is a figment of their imagination. 

However, they succeeded in repeating this charge and the term was brought in usage. But when a newspaper on its own starts using it, it not only makes a mockery of journalistic standards, but also divides society and tries to give the impression as if it is mouthpiece of a ultra-right wing group that feels there is a conspiracy and one community is targeting girls belonging to other community.

A crime is a crime and the accused must face action in accordance with law, that's all. There are no ifs and buts, stern action must be taken. But how the paper on its own decides to use this term, a usage which cleverly pushes forward a shameful narrative that demonizes one community, it is a dangerous thing. A newspaper is for public information, not to strengthen biases and create communalism or mistrust in society.

When you are fully aware that Home Ministry has said that there are no Love Jihad cases, the term has no legal basis and that no such cases have been reported by central agencies. This has been stated in the Parliament. So who uses this term? Did police tell the reporter that this was a case of Love Jihad? No. How, your editorial team on its own used this term?

That's not the first occasion. You need to be sensitive and practice journalism. Does your news organisation even have a basic diversity, representing the region's population or your editorial team doesn't have representation of all communities and sections. As, the reporting quite often shows deep biases and failure to adhere to high standards of fair journalism.

On the same day, another news from Indore came--a man killed his newly wed wife by strangulating her with dog leash (chain) and later stabbing her repeatedly. In this case it was not Hindu-Muslim issue, so it didn't get attention. Unfortunately, of thousands of cases if one case has an inter-religious angle, it is played up and people fall for the propaganda when newspapers too take such stand rather than reporting crimes as crimes.

Petition urging the newspaper to stop publishing biased reports and adhere to journalistic standards and media ethics

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Indian politics: From blaming 'foreign hand' for troubles to 'inventing' enemies to for polarization, inflaming passions

Till 1980s, national politics was about blaming 'external hand' for any disaster, failure and to divert attention.

It was so common that at the slightest opportunity, leaders would either blame an outside agency for the troubles or it was believed that certain leaders were working at the instance of the 'foreign forces'. 

But now it's a totally different scenario in India. Our own people are branded, enemies are 'invented' within the country in order to inflame passions and for polarization.

Entire groups-communities are defamed, targeted and hate fuelled through IT cells, media & propaganda. 

The strategy now is to term a group 'anti-national' & hound it through TV and social media. It becomes a 'tamasha' and weeks, even months pass as channels and newspapers enter the fray, forcing people to discuss, while forgetting all other pressing issues. 

Effort is made to pit own people against each other, at least that way focus is away from failure on development, other issues. There is always more passion when there is hate & rivalry among groups. TV is playing a major role in this sinister campaign. 

New terms are coined, dissenters can be branded, one is Urban N, other is Tukde Tukde Gang or Love Jihad, et al. And above all this Hindu-Muslim issue. Anything from what one eats, what one sells or cooks, from Vande Matram to Cow, Madarsa, Jinnah, Burqa, Marriages, name a word, even one of them can be used to spread hate through 9 pm debates, FB pages that are for this reason & it just never stops.

It's not that people don't know. You have to live together, hundreds of millions of each community, no one is going anywhere. You know, this hate is manufactured, it serves a purpose but still people continue to fall for this. Distrust and hate keeps going up, people do not even get tired! 

Now it has hit the level of creating enemies from within, own people termed outsiders, students and activists branded, sometime it is religion, then regional from M'shtra Vs Bihar or anything that just pits one group against other, keeps minds occupied, grab eyeballs, inflames passion.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

America yet to elect first women president in 230 years, Asian countries chose female heads of states long back

It has taken 230 years. America has seen 45 presidents in history.

But not a single woman head of state, till now.

That's strange, isn't it?

In a few weeks, results would be known and we will know if United States of America (USA) is going to have a new President. The contest between two men, once again.
And, no woman in sight, as yet. In the last elections, there was a chance.
In fact, Hillary Clinton was expected to get elected, but ultimately Donald Trump became the president.

Compared to the 'progressive' USA, countries in other parts of the world, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania have elected many women head of states including Presidents or Prime Ministers.

Today, Europe has Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and there was Theresa May in Britain, till sometime ago. However, in Asian countries--Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim nations, there is a long history of popular women leaders who led their countries.

Srimavo Bhandarayaka was the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka [Ceylone]. Indira Gandhi was, of course, Prime Minister of India, for so long. Benazir Bhutto, the former PM of Pakistan, was a charismatic leader. Tansu Ciller was Prime Minister of Turkey.

Bangladesh has the best record of electing female leaders. The contest has been between Sheikh Hasina Wajid and Begum Khaleda Zia. Both of them have been PMs in the country. Among the initial women leaders was Golda Meir, the former PM of Israel.
One of the most well-known women politicians to lead a country was Margaret Thatcher in UK. There have been many more names. It is surprising that America hasn't had woman president before or even a serious contender. This is surprising because countries where women empowerment is believed to be far less and where literacy among females is quite less, have had female leaders. Sylvie Kinigi was acting president in Burundi (Africa) and later women leaders were elected in other parts of Africa too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Great Freedom Fighters of India: Revolutionaries who were hanged for the role in independence movement during the British rule

Mohammad Abdullah who was hanged 

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The role of revolutionaries in creating the awakening among masses and their sacrifices for the motherland, can never be forgotten. 

The fact is that martyrs were the real heroes--those who hanged and happily went to gallows for the cause of freedom. 

Remember, it was an era when Indians were treated like slaves and there were large-scale killings after 1857. 

Even in later years, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and Qissakhwani Bazar Killings, had infuriated Indians. 

After 1857, freedom movement saw participation of hundreds of such patriots who were willing to give their life for the cause of independence.

Mohammad Abdullah had assassinated the judge who was known for giving harsh sentence to freedom fighters, especially, the revolutionaries. History books mention that John Paxton Norman was assassinated by Mohammad Abdullah. 

The incident took place in Kolkata (then, Calcutta). The judge John Paxton Norman was known for harsh sentences on freedom fighters and revolutionaries. Historians, for this reason, mention that the revolutionaries despite strong repressive measures, preferred to die but remained committed to the cause of freedom. 

Sir Paxton Norman was acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court in 1871. Abdullah was later hanged. His portraits adorn museums and homes, now. Just like later years freedom fighters and revolutionaries who wanted the atrocities to end, and took up initiative--Bhagat Singh and Rajguru killed Saunders, and got hanged, the flame of resistance continued to burn. 

Each such incident and martyrdom in the era--every hanging and freedom fighter shot or killed, was a major event and it led to the rise in nationalistic fervour and as a result created awakening among the people. 

The list of martyrs and revolutionaries is long from Tatya Tope to  Azimullah, Sher Ali, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaqullah, Rajguru, Madanlal Dhingra, Mohammad Abdullah to Chandrashekhar Azad and many others.

READ: Sher Ali, revolutionary freedom fighter who assassinated Viceroy, got hanged

Revolutionary freedom fighter Turrrebaz Khan and the soldiers who led attack on British Residency: Independence Movement's Martyrs in Hyderabad


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Tura Baz Khan alias Turrebaz Khan was the fearless revolutionary who led the audacious attack on British residency in Hyderabad. 

This heroic act and the supreme sacrifice of soldiers, had caused a stir in the entire region, during the first war of Independence in 1857. 

The attack was planned in order to free the rebel Indian soldiers who were held in prison, there. 

Earlier, as news from the North about the revolution in Oudh and other regions arrived, there was resentment among people in Hyderabad too. Like most of the other princely states, here too the ruling class was pro-British. 

Cheeda Khan had revolted against Britishers when the state contingent's 3rd cavalry was ordered to march to Delhi, at Buldhana. He had refused to fight for the East India Company and left with other soldiers. However, they were arrested and handed to Resident. 

In order to rescue them, 'Sher-i-Hyderabad' Tura Baz Khan and other revolutionaries surrounded the Residency. As large number of rebel soldiers reached, Turrebaz Khan and Maulvi Alauddin along with Rohillas demolished wall and broke into the residency. There was a full-fledged battle. 

A large number of rebel soldiers were martyred. Treachery and deceit, particularly, role of several officials who had sent information to British officials about the impending attack, was responsible for the defeat. 

Turrebaz Khan got injured but managed to escape. He was later identified and arrested. He was asked about whereabouts of Maulvi Alauddin but he refused. He was to be sent to Andaman Nicobar but he managed to escape from the prison on January 18, 1859. 

Now, an amount of Rs 5,000 was announced on his arrest. This was a huge cash reward by the standards of the era. He was caught and killed [shot dead]. Tura Baz Khan's body was hanged by a tree near Residency. This was to send a strong message to the revolutionaries as well as the ordinary people. 

But the sacrifice of revolutionaries is an important chapter in the history of freedom struggle. There is a memorial and a road has also been named after him, however, despite the act of valour, his name is missing from text books and he was termed an unsung hero. Of course, the memory of such martyrs and revolutionaries remained in the hearts of people. 

Journalist Papri Paul, in a Times of India report rightly says that," ...this revolutionary act brought Hyderabad on the map during the first war of independence in 1857". Of late, there have been efforts to remember the freedom fighters and a play on his ultimate sacrifice was staged in Hyderabad.

The photograph above [on the right] is the title of Devireddy Subramanyam Reddy's book Uprising of 1857 a movement that defined India of August 15, 1947. It is available on Amazon, at this LINK. He is also the author of Colonialism and Resistance in India.

READ: The story of Turrebaz Khan, the forgotten hero

READ: Turrebaz Khan, the forgotten hero of freedom movement

Photo of the memorial above, courtesy Mr Kavali Chandrakanth

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Muslim woman donates own land for construction of temple in Uttar Pradesh: Communal Harmony Project-43

It is another heart-warming story that tells about how communal harmony exists on the ground and people go extra-mile to help other communities.

The Muslim woman decided to donate own land for construction of temple.

Not just her husband but entire family including the son, supported her decision.

This incident has occurred in Uttar Pradesh--the same state from where we get so much bad news--crime and lynching incidents.

This is all the more important as UP is the same state where the dispute at Ayodhya continues for ages and hundreds have died in communal clashes across the country, over the temple-mosque dispute.

According to reports, Akbari, who lives in Siwalkhas, nearly 20 kms away from Meerut, was approached by local residents who wanted a donation for construction of temple.

Rather than donating a few hundred rupees, she instantly committed that she would give her own land--more than 1,350 sq ft [150 sq yards]. This is indeed exemplary and rare. Her husband was not at home then. When he returned, he supported his wife's stand.

Aas Mohammad is a retired teacher. His wife Akbari says that when the delegation of local Hindus arrived at her house, she felt that she had donated for construction and repair of mosques earlier, so she offered the land to temple.

Siwalkhas is located on Meerut-Baghpat highway. It has nearly 80% Muslim population. People like Master Ram Gopal, Ravinder Sharma and local Hindus who were part of the delegation were overwhelmed.

Now, the agreement has been finalised on paper. It has been a talk of the town and also in neighbouring cities, that how a Muslim woman took the decision in the times when land prices have skyrocketed.


[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

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Remember freedom fighters' sacrifice, their struggle for independence, stop hate and save the nation: Communal Harmony Project-47

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Can we look at them from a religious prism?

Who can dare do that? These are our heroes, the men who gave away their lives for the cause of India's independence.

Their idealism, their hope, their immense courage resulted in awakening of masses in the country.

They represent our freedom movement, the shared heritage, the combined struggle, they symbolise our unity. Just don't fritter away this great legacy.

We must corner, shame those who spread hate and divide people among religions. Be proud of our common heritage, spread love and brotherhood, harmony, save the country.

Today, as we see hate, communalism and religious divide, people spreading false messages and targeting each other, it is all the more a reason to remember their sacrifices. For the freedom fighters, their identity as an Indian was more important.

They gave their precious lives for the sake of freedom. We need to confront hate, take the hate-mongers head on and fight. We need to live up to the ideals of the freedom fighters whose struggle gave us independence.

Take a pledge, shame those around you who divide people on communal lines. Speak forcefully about unity, defend the 'other', take stand for everybody. This will be the biggest service to the nation and also to those who died just because we could live in freedom.

We need social movement, must shame those who create divide or talk ill of others. It is a fact that hate speech & attacking others on religious lines hurts people, weakens the country. Shun people who do it, make it 'un-cool' again. Stop hate. Save India.

[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