THERE is, in the English-language media, a hate-BJP, hate-Narendra Modi brigade that is continually engaged in the spread of hatred unbecoming of any decent self-respecting organisation.
Led by Hindustan Times in Delhi and The Times of India in Mumbai, this brigade lets no opportunity go to cast aspersions on the Gujarat Chief Minister. And then there is another Mumbai newspaper?one feels disgusted even to name it?that can think up the vilest thing about Modi. Its latest charge is that the killing of four alleged terrorists?including the innocent looking Ishrat Jahan was master-minded by Modi to garner sympathy for himself. It is surprising that this paper did not name Modi as responsible for Venus transiting the Sun to deflect attention from Vajpayee´s charge against him. By its ceaseless effort to spread hatred against the BJP, and Modi specifically, The Times of India should know that it is losing its credibility.
Word has been spreading in recent months that column inches of space are up for sale in Bombay Times and anyone who wants publicity can buy it at a high price. Surely, what holds good for Bombay Times holds good for other editorial space as well?
Is there such a thing as semi-virginity? A recent edit page article in The Times of India (June 19) made the point that ?for the past two years, every BJP leader down to the ´intellectuals´ who populate the lower rungs of the saffron food-chain?has sought to deflect criticism of the Gujarat riots by invoking Godhra?. Is it really believed that if there was no Godhra, there would still have been riots? What sort of insane and stupid argument is that? And the article writes: ?Two years on, the investigation into Godhra has led nowhere and the country still remains clueless about how coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express caught fire.?
Are these paid articles? Incidentally, where does Modi come in, in the matter of Ishrat Jahan´s killing?
Has Modi stopped any investigation? We have the Railway Protection Force´s report. Then there is the Editors´ Guild Fact-Finding Mission´s report. Then attention needs to be drawn to an article in The Hindu (August 10, 2003) written by its correspondent Praveen Swami under the heading: Massive Lashkar Cell with Links in Gujarat, UP Unearthed, that needs to be brought to The Times of India´s attention. The truth is that in its vile attempt to blacken the face of Modi this paper will go to any length to destroy the peace prevailing in Gujarat. It says there is a case for a fresh commission of inquiry into what happened in Godhra. The impression is sought to be given that while all the innocent Ghantis of Godhra were fast asleep, those in coach-6 decided to immolate themselves in order to blacken the reputation of Muslims.
The Times wants to know the ´truth about Godhra´. It would be more pertinent to ferret out ´truth about Times of India´. Who is behind this consistent hate-campaign and to what end? Are these paid articles? Incidentally, where does Modi come in, in the matter of Ishrat Jahan´s killing? According to Mid-Day (June 19) ?the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had been tracking Khalsa College girl, Ishrat Jahan´s movements for over six months since it had definite information on her links with Lashkar-e-Taiba.?
How would Modi know that Ishrat would be coming to Ahmedabad along with her ´friends´ on a mission to kill him? Isn´t there any limit to the hate-Modi campaign, full of lies and insinuations? If anybody has to be suspected or questioned, it is the Intelligence Bureau which apparently alerted both the Mumbai and Ahmedabad police.
Not a single newspaper has shown courage to delve into past riots, both in Gujarat and elsewhere. How many newspapers would dare to open the archives concerning the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi? It wouldn´t serve their purpose. Who would dare to open the archives concerning the 1969 riots in Gujarat when the Congress was in power? None. It would embarrass the Congress. And shouldn´t we have, once and for all, a full study of all the riots that have taken place in India after Independence to go into what exactly is wrong with Hindu-Muslim relations? Why are we fighting shy of that?
Incidentally we all would appreciate The Times of India better if it told us more about the cases of farmers´ suicides in Andhra Pradesh after the Congress took over the administration, more about the killings of innocents by communist goons in West Bengal. According to The Statesman (May 24), ?about 100 people, reportedly CPI-M supporters, attacked eight members of a family (in Panchuria, North 24-Parganas), hitting the male members with choppers and iron rods…? What are choppers and iron rods made of? Peacock feathers? Why don´t we get information about atrocities committed by communist and Congress goons?
When, as former former HRD Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi suggested that astrology be taught in universities there was a revolt among our ´intellectuals´ against teaching what they considered was ´superstition´. Now comes a story from Hyderabad (Deccan Chronicle, June 2) that in just about a month there have been over 300 inquiries about various modes of a course in astrology introduced by the Potti Sri Ramulu Telugu University, from countries ´as far away as Mauritius´. Says the report: ?The course is unique and the University has had the course since its inception in 1987. Even before admission notice for the two-year correspondence, certificate and diploma courses are out, enquiries have flooded the university…? There must be a lot of superstitious people all over the world. The Congress-led government in Delhi and the one in Hyderabad must take immediate steps to stop this propagation of astrology at the university level. What is India trying to do: spread superstition all over the world?
Dr Joshi, incidentally, has pointed out that there is a lot of saffron in our national flag. Somebody should bring this to the attention of Sonia Gandhi. Isn´t it time to de-saffronise our national flag as well? Indeed, since saffron offends the eyes of Congressmen, we should have a ban on the cultivation of saffron. Come on, Times of India, let´s start a campaign to free India from saffron. Let us have some secular colour in our national flag and some secular powders for our masalas. That might improve the thinking of our secular journalists, presently engaged in spreading hatred across the country. Can´t we live in peace without having to hear our secular intellectuals baying for blood and seeing them pollute news columns with lies and puerile propaganda? How long do we have to put up with this?
It is time to stop the demonising of Modi and the vilification of Gujarat. And to look within ourselves to find out why we are the way we are.