In today'sworld where the media is increasingly assuming the role of an educator and opinion maker for the benefit of the society as well as governments, it is quite unfortunate that so much of it rests on a false paradigm that tends to wrongly equate secularism with anti-Hinduism. Time and again it has been proved that Indian media has no independence of thought and sense of identity. Only it seems to follow the policy of genuflexion before the powers that be working on a single tract mindset that debars them from coming out of their self engineered communal cocoons and have a reality check. These self proclaimed custodians of secularism continue to indulge in blatant anti-Hindu propaganda.
These foot soldiers of the pseudo-secular Hindu bashing brigade are genetically programmed to find fault with the majority in any communal riots. They depict perfectly passive demonstrators of the majority as ?violent Hindu mobs? while no such derogatory parlance is used to describe the barbaric Muslim rioters who have no qualms about killing innocent Hindus and burning their properties. These depictions are of a piece with their caricature of Hindus as fundamentalists, their portrayal of Hindutva as vehicle to perpetrate atrocities against minorities. Behind this venomous propaganda of media, especially the English speaking one, which has many admirers in the top media houses lies an implicit bias that has a penchant for labelling Hindu religious organisations as dangerous and fascist. One is left almost speechless by the feigned innocence of these so-called patriots who go to the bizarre extent of making Hindus appear ?aggressors? rather than victims, allowing them enough leeway to follow anti-Hindu agenda. While the Indian press cautions about ?Hindu fundamentalism, on a regular basis, Muslim extremism gets the benefit of doubt under economic underdevelopment chant. Consequently, many of these brave hearts did not even squeak when the train carnage at Godhra was cited as ?accident? in the Bannerjee report. Similarly, they make only passing reference when Islamic terrorists kill Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir or maraudering mobs take away many innocent lives anywhere in India. They only make harsh noises when RSS and its associated organisations carry on peaceful protests, dubbing these as ?communal?. Infact, these pious souls find communal overtones in anything remotely connected to Hindus. They are always on a hyper active mode to castigate the VHP and the Bajrang Dal on the manufactured anxiety that their one-sided defence of Hindu interests would lead to the country going up in flames. These very bleeding hearts pounce on every opportunity to malign and denigrate the majority community to their heart'scontent. This cynical opportunism of the media honchos raises severe doubts about their professional honesty and integrity. Any right-thinking citizen may ask them?is it only Hindutva that animates them?
The malicious anti-Hindu propaganda indulged in by a large section of English language media is a clear indication that it has become a stooge in the hands of Left wing parties and their blind followers. They are busy spreading a systematic Islamic terrorism against Hinduism through a disinformation campaign that seeks to depict Hindu cultural heritage through stereotypes of caste, dowry deaths, Sati, superstition portraying these as medieval and denigrating cults. The result is that the Hindu community is besmirched in the eyes of the outside world. Consequently, Hinduism that occupies a third place as the largest religion in the world has singularly failed to maintain its supremacy and individuality internationally. The subsequent ruling parties of India also have not helped the Hindu cause by calling an end to these media distortions, but have infact, extended a tactical acquiescence. This floundering response of the top media players reflects a lack of clarity of thinking and resoluteness to face the facts and report them accordingly, without any favour or bias. The funny thing is that majority of these very ?intellectuals? who derive an almost orgasmic pleasure in painting Hindus negatively more often than not, happen to be Hindus themselves. It is amazing what makes them feel so self congratulating about running down their own brethren as well as insulting their own religion so shamelessly!
In accordance with their anti Hindu lineament, it is perfectly fine to raise a hue and cry carrying tear jerker stories of imagined Muslim atrocities while at the same time being blind to the very real pogroms against Hindus in Muslim majority states. It is a hallmark of their discriminatory policy that when Hindus are massacred, the media choses to remain silent, thus glossing over the reality so that the identity of the perpetrators remains shrouded in mystery but the same Indian press evokes a massive outcry when the victims are Muslims. Isn'tthis crude exploitation of religion, a measure of media'sdouble standards? The same media that screamed hoarse when Babri edifice came down was conveniently inert when the only temple in Lahore'sRang Mahal area was demolished. Also, there was a huge outcry when a small dargah was removed to widen a street in Vadodra. Will the so-called secular media throw some light on using different yardsticks to distinguish on the basis of religion. Is it fair to have separate policies for different religions in a secular set up? Isn'tit tantamount to some sort of conspiracy of silence where secularism is equated with minoritism? These are some of the questions that the Indian media is duty-bound to answer.
The biased media coverage of Godhra incident that contributed largely to tarnish India'simage in the whole world also raises several questions about the sincerity and honesty of purpose regarding Indian journalism. It indicates a degree of cynicism that the so-called upholders of truth who found nothing wrong in deeming after Godhra voilence as ?communal? did not even once attempt to go into the Godhra issue in depth and reveal the provocation behind such a horrendous tragedy. For, by no stretch of imagination can the roasting alive of 58 Hindu Karsevaks be termed ?accidental? while most of the editorials and writings in top notch papers went to the bizarre extent of blaming Modi government for the incident, till date no journalist (except for a few belonging to local press) had the courage to speak up on the Godhra conspiracy as a mega provocation. The very fact that the victims of Godhra violence were all Hindus and victims of Gujarat riots were not all Muslims points out the media cliches in the ?communal? theory. Also, the reports of some Hindus saving the lives of their Muslim neighbours literally risking their own life during the Gujarat riots did not curiously find any space in media. This partisan course pursued by the so-called champions of secularism quite plainly comes across as a bias aimed at lampooning Hindutva besides defaming the Modi government.
While not a single article or editorial has suceeded in presenting a balanced and mature view of the Gujarat riots, they fared no better on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits, who have undergone genocide and suffered eviction from Kashmir to become refugees in their own country. The national media going out of way to demonise India and Hindus internationally but holding back from internationalising the plight of Kashmiri Pandits clearly bears this contention.
Notwithstanding the fact that the number of Hindus killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 10 years is many times more than Muslims killed during Gujarat riots, not a single media person of eminence has condemned the massacres vociferously or organised campaigns for the Kashmiri Pandit cause. While Hindus continue to be killed by Islamic terrorists be it is in Chhatisingpora, Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Kaluchek, Nadimarg or other places, one is shaken by the sorry state of affairs whereby media is seen running after the likes of Moulvi Farooq and Shabir Shah, jostling with each other while begging for a few sound bytes whenever these ?esteemed guests? land in Delhi. While the Kashmiri Pandits continue to languish in refugee camps, not even a single member of the intellectual media has presented the their picture in its true perspective. Does it mean that the life of Hindus is not even worth a mention in any decent national paper?
It goes without saying that the Hindu baiter brigade takes every opportunity to misrepresent and humiliate Hindus under the guise of being secular. Things have reached such a head that even Muslims are now exploiting, this anti-Hindu slant of the press as well as the ruling party by killing innocent Hindus whenever they want to demonstrate their ire against a ?secular? India. Taking advantage of the one dimensional secularism of the Indian media they do not flinch from attacking Hindus at the slightest pretext. Killings of thousands of Hindus in Kashmir and their eviction gets no mention in these so-called secular newspapers and TV channels whereas Gujarat riots find wide coverage in them. Infiltration of a large number of Bangladeshi nationals into India threatening to create another Afghanistan is dubbed as no news for obvious reasons while as with the murder of Graham Staines, the whole of the India'sEnglish press goes overboard, screaming condemnation of the killers. Also, the conversion of poorer of the poorest Hindus by fraud, inducement or other means is not reason enough to goad our pressmen into action. By and large, all such ?incidents? are blacked out by the media. When Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati was arrested, the media dubbed him a big criminal even before his trial. But the same ?secular media? did not care to highlight the truth of his innocence which had been established in the court of law. It was not too long ago when the Minister of HRD, Arjun Singh along with Minister of Minorities, A.R. Antuley laid the blame of Mumbai blasts at the door of so-called ?Hindu fundamentalists? yet, till today, no paper worth its salt has emphasised that the culprit indeed was Pakistani, thereby not daring to raise their voice and giving a lie to the baseless charges. When Shri Murli Manohar Joshi tried to alter history textbooks, he was charged with saffronisation of education but when Arjun Singh depicted freedom fighters as ?terrorists? the present crop of erudite media men did not go in a tizz. These contradictions are glaring, speaking volumes about the servile attitude of the Indian media.
The very idea that religion is guiding our purblind journalists towards one sided reporting is quite disturbing. It is time for the media to do some soul searching and start behaving responsibly. Unless they learn to portray true Indian picture sincerely and fearlessly, there is a very real fear of India joining the league of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
(The author is a senior journalist with Kashur Gazette and can be contacted at [email protected])