By OUR STAFF WRITER
The media coverage followed by the Assam riots and hate-message streak once again points out towards the damage a biased media can do to the social fabric of the country. Especially at times of riots, when one group is after another, the biased reporting can do what the most thought-of-plans cannot do.
Let us take the example of the recent hate-message row, which led to the exodus of North-Easterners from Bangalore and other cities and towns. On August 22, The Times of India, under the headline “Hate SMSes: HuJI, PFI role under scanner,” mentions the hand of a Bajrang Dal member behind the SMS circulation. The news item says, “Sources said they were also looking at several internet posts and SMSes that were circulated, especially in Karnataka and AP, possibly by members of some Hindu fundamentalist groups. A source said there was a particular alert from Karnataka that spoke about plans by some Pakistani women settled in the area to target trains passing via Mysore. The alert was traced to a Bajrang Dal member, he said.”
The news item mentions that the alert has been traced to a Bajrang Dal member, however, the interesting thing to note is that the headline, which is supposed to carry the gist and the thrust of the news, nowhere mentions it.
The same paper on August 23 reported that 20 per cent of the banned hate websites were uploaded by Hindutva groups. The news item said, “The clamour over Pakistan fanning communal passions in India through social networking sites has missed a crucial detail. Around 20% of the web pages — blocked by government agencies — were uploaded by right-wing Hindu fundamentalists seeking to polarize the country on communal lines. In these posts doctored images or videos showing alleged atrocities against tribal Bodos by Muslims have been tagged with provocative captions and point to extremist Hindu groups trying to fish in troubled waters to target minorities and fan tensions…. “Everyone is trying to ride the Assam conflict bandwagon for their own parochial and political gains. Right-wing Hindu groups have played a major role in spreading panic among the north-easterners,” said the official. Their portrayal of all Bodos as Hindus is also inaccurate as some are Christians.”
One of the human rights activists, VB Rawat, writes on his blog on August 16, “No doubt that Muslims have faced brunt of the violence in Assam and it is not unusual as they have been victim of Indian nationalism most of the time, yet this time the rumor mills of the Hindutva are working in a different way. They work as if Muslims have decided to take action against the Northeastern people. Some time, a small gathering of people, where emotional rhetoric are used to charge the community, comes as fodder for Hindutva organizations and media to spread lies and rumors. However, in most of these cases, they turn out to be false and mischievous. As the rumor mills work overtime to spread the communal hatred in the entire country, the media is only adding to it rather than stopping it.” He further mentions, “Such things cannot happen in Karnataka without the effective help of the state to rumour-mongers.”
An article by Lakshmi Choudhary on firstpost.com mentions the hate being spread by other Hindutva organisations. She writes, “It’s particularly ironic that rightwing thugs like Tajinder Bagga, leader of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (who made headlines for beating up Prashant Bhushan), is now tweeting out messages of support to his “Northeastern brothers and sisters.” More so, since the right-wingers like him have been eager to spread inflammatory warnings about Muslims on the rampage. ‘Fatwa issued by Local Muslims to North East Brother’s & Sister’s to leave Bangalore till 20 or ready for Riots,’ reads one such Bagga tweet. How helpful then that the BSKS has now established a North East Students Help Line.
Bagga’s real agenda becomes crystal clear in his Facebook updates which cut to the chase: ‘Dear Supporters of Bangladeshi Migrants, The Things You are doing with our North-East Brother’s & Sister’s in Pune, Bangalore & Hyderabad, don’t try in Delhi. Otherwise we will Cut Your Hands & Legs.’
The RSS too has been quick to jump on the bandwagon, sending 250 swayamsevaks to the station to offer ‘full security to all North-East Indians’. This is the same RSS that has been alleging that the North-East is a hotbed of secession due to missionaries determined to convert hapless tribals — which was also the excuse used to justify the 2008 church attacks in Karnataka by none other than then CM Yeddyurappa who called it a ‘natural reaction to forced conversions’.”
The Hindutva groups have been known for their modus-operandi in instigating communal violence. In January 2012, six Shri Ram Sene activists were arrested in North Karnataka’s Bijapur district for hoisting a Pakistani flag in a Muslim area, just to create tensions and form a public opinion among the masses that Muslims are anti-national. Similar flag hoisting was done in Andhra Pradesh as well. On April 10, news of desecration of Hanuman temple came to surface and without any second thought it was believed to be the work of Muslims. However when police caught the culprit the mystery unfolded. The name of the youth who was arrested was Rakesh and though it was not clear whether Rakesh was linked to any of the Hindutva groups, yet the hand of Hindutva cannot be ruled out.
So considering the current simmering situation, there is a need to understand the plot of the enemies of country who are not doing anything constructive, but only doing disservice to the nation.