SO terrorism is back in India and, as in the past, the governments, both at the Centre and at the State have been unable to stop it. “The blast (in Hyderabad on February 21) again expose the government’s claim that it has taken comprehensive step to contain terror in the country”, angrily noted Deccan Herald (February 28). It charged Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who had said that there had been intelligence information about impending strikes and that states had been alerted on this, for being too vague for action to be taken. Why, asked the paper, couldn’t number of anti-terrorist organisations existing in the country ensure the lives and properties of ordinary people when they had been already informed? Even the Prime Minister’s promise that those behind the “dastardly attack in Hyderabad will not go unpunished”, said the paper, sounds ‘hollow. Governments at Central and State level’s cannot escape their “responsibilities” the paper warned.
“Don’t let politics thwart anti-terror measures” said The New Indian Express (February 23). Pointing out that the Centre had admitted to previous knowledge of likely attack in Hyderabad, the paper said its “failure to take pre-emptive action underlines flaws in the intelligence processing mechanism among the intelligence agencies” adding “that the Home Minister Shinde’s claim that the Centre had shared information with the State does not absolve it of responsibility”. The job of the Union Minister, said the paper, “is not merely to pass intelligence inputs but to ensure that acequate action is taken”.
“Unite Against Terror” advised The Times of India, (February 23) pointing out that “politicisation of terror poses the biggest hurdle to crafting a united approach to internal security.” Noting that “coordination, clearly, is woefully lacking among the Central and State Governments and among security agencies under their command” the paper told political parties that unless they ‘bury’ their turf wars and stop politicising, one can’t be ahead of terrorist plots. The paper suggested the revival of a proposal “to create a national Counter-Terrorism Centre along the lines of America’s anti-terror body”.
Much the same point was made by The Hindu ( February 23) which said that “there is something distasteful about the manner in which each terrorist attack that takes place in India “is followed by a bout of political recrimination and blood-letting”. “Statesmanship and propriety” said the paper “demand that the tragedy not be politicised”. The paper expressed surprise as to why “the potential target area was not subjected to more intense policing and surveillance” considering the fact “that the Delhi Police had learnt last October that the Dilsukhnagar locality had been surveyed by the Indian mujahedin terrorist outfit.
The paper said that the people of Hyderabad have “time and again” resisted provocations for clashes between Hindus and Muslims”, “but it will take more than peaceful citizens to keep the city safe if its policing is not of a standard commensurate with the threats it faces”. In an earlier column reference had been made of India dropping nine places to 140 in the list of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists. We now learn that a correspondent of the Nagpur-based The Hitavada was murdered in a gruesome incident by suspected Naxalites, by slashing his throat. Nemi Chand Jain, the victim, had gone to a village in Sukma District to gather some information when he was caught and killed. It seems a leaflet was later found clipped to his belt, branding him as a police informer which those who know him deny vehemently. This news received very little publicity in the media, which is shocking. Some of our media seems to be more interested in giving publicity to parties given by city socialites and to pictures of semi-nude females in their entertainment section than to the fate of their own professional brothers who have made substantial contribution to the education and conveyance of information to the general public.
There has been hardly any mention, for example, of the passing away of SR Rao (93), the former Director of the Archaeological Survey of India who had to his credit two path-breaking excavations to his credit, one, the Harappan port of Lothal and two, the submerged city of Dwarka, restoring its historical presence. Just as importantly he was instrumental in bringing the Hampi ruins and Aihole under the world heritage sites. About the only paper to take notice of Rao, The Hindu (January 5, 2013) also mentioned the fact that had established museums for preserving ancient monuments in Badami was Pattadakal , Aihole, Lakkundi and Balligavi. Rao who introduced marine archacelogy, a new discipline, directed the underwater excavation of Poompuhar in the Bay of Bengal.
More recently the media lost a distinguished journalist, PK Ravindranath who, in his time, had seved the
Free Press Journal (1952-55) The Times of India (1955-1970), the National Herald (1970-76) and the Mathrubhumi (1977-86). He had also served as Press Adviser to Sharad Pawar who was Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Subsequently he was appointed Director of Publications in the Nehru Centre, Mumbai (1992-96). Author of over a dozen books and a translator of many more, he has also served as Chairman of Bombay Union of Journalists and Vice President of Indian Federation of Working Journalists and towards the end of his long career taught journalism in a course launched by Bombay University. It is claimed that he has helped produce more than three hundred committed professionals who now adorn senior positions in the media in Mumbai and other parts of the country. Even more recently he was honoured by being invited to be consulting Editor of Kerala in Mumbai, a prestigious monthly. It is shocking to think that such a man who had long served journalism at different levels should pass away, unwept, unhonoured and unsung.The plain truth is that obituaries have become passé in today’s media.
When serious social work itself is held to be of no consequence, how can one expect the media to take note even of its own cadre of another day and era? Ravindranath was never of the complaining kind. To him work was worship. And he worked with unremitting zeal at whatever task the fate assigned him to. Both Ravi and Rao had given of their best, irrespective of whether their achievements were recognised. May their souls rest in peace.