Intro : Contrary to the popular notion—“Facts are sacred, comment is free”, the media of Bharat seem to revel in the thinking: “Comment is sacred, facts are free!”
On October 1, an extremely untoward incident happened in a village in district Hammirpur of UP. But the Dadri incident having taken away all the limelight in the national media, almost no news channel covered it. But the coverage of the same as appearing in three English dailies, leave many questions about journalistic ethics and responsibilities.
The Hindustan Times carried the screaming headline in its issue dated October 2, 2015: “90-year-old Dalit man burnt alive for trying to enter temple in UP”. The story filed by one Haider Naqvi tells the horrendous tale about an old man named Chimma Ahirwar, trying to enter a temple in Hammirpur along with his wife and a cousin, stopped by the accused one Sanjay Tiwari. Chimma persisted in his effort to get inside upon which Sanjay doused him with kerosene and set him ablaze. The version is, as the reporter avers, got from ‘eye witnesses’.
The New Indian Express dated October 3 carries almost the same, but a bit more gruesome headlines about the incident: “90-year-old Dalit chopped and burnt alive for entering temple”. But thankfully, it added the version of the police also which says, Tiwari a drunken drug addict had demanded some money from Chimma to buy alcohol, but Chimma having refused, the accused killed him in a sudden fit of extreme rage. The police also told the reporter that the same Tiwari had attacked the temple priest just two days back. The police version changes the whole complexion of the news. It was not the entry into the temple which cost Chimma his life, but his refusal to give money for wine to a drunkard.
Now see how The Indian Express of October 3 put the whole thing in right perspective by mentioning the fact that the temple has been built by the SC community herself, and so there is not an iota of truth in the so-called eye witnesses’ version, as carried by the HT (and repeated by the NIE) that the point in dispute was entry into the temple. The paper says that the murder took place near the temple, called the Maidani Baba Mandir, situated in village Bilgaon under Jalalpur police station of Hammirpur district. It nowhere mentioned anything about ‘the temple-entry dispute’.
The question is: how to deal with the utter irresponsibility shown by the HT and NIE in reporting a sensitive matter which can go to tear asunder the social fabric of the Hindu society? They depict an out-and-out criminal offence of murder as something associated with temple entry. Haider Naqvi of the HT stands out as a reporter covering the event with an ulterior motive of creating tension in the Hindu society. Otherwise, why he didn't care to carry even a line about the police version, why he failed to mention the fact that the temple has been built by the Scheduled Caste community itself? Had he cared to do so, the whole edifice of his story would have crumbled.
Late CP Scott, the doyen of world journalism and the chief editor of the Manchester Guardian for 57 years, has said: Facts are sacred, comment is free. But the media of Bharat seem to revel in the thinking: Comment is sacred, facts are free! It invents facts to suit its convenience. It suppresses inconvenient facts. The Bishara story exposes this mindset of the media, or better to say, of the ‘secular’ media.
The incident relating to the village Bishara, near Dadri, is being painted as lynching of a Muslim, named Akhlaq, by some Hindu youth merely on the suspicion of having killed a calf. No channel worth the name has cared to look into the question as to why the suspicion arose. The fact is that these youth saw somebody throwing remains of an animal wrapped in polythene at a heap of garbage near Akhlaq's house at around 10 PM in the night of 28 September. They couldn't intercept him as he eloped fast. But throwing torchlight from their cell phones on the packet, they found out remains of a calf. The only house in the vicinity of this point is that of Akhlaq. They naturally went there and found fresh meat stored in the refrigerator there. The suspicion was not out of place then. The brutal beating of the father-son duo that followed was, however, condemnable. And now here too the media blacked out the statement of Jameel, the elder brother of Akhlaq, which said that a number of Hindus protected the women of the family and other Muslims living in the area around. When the police came, it was handed over the remains of the calf which it sealed. The refrigerated meat along with these remains, the police said, would be sent for forensic inspection. But the way a police officer started telling that the meat was mutton and remains not of a calf, but those of a sheep, raised suspicion among the people around that the samples would be changed before being sent to the forensic lab. And verily the same has come true. In the first place, the FIR lodged by the police didn’t mention anything regarding the calf's remains. The Mathura lab, belonging to the UP Government, too, later declared the meat to be mutton, as the police had claimed beforehand.
The secular media also blacked out the fact, as reported by the biggest Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, that the Hindu community in Bishara collected Rs. 70,000 for the treatment of Akhlaq and his son. It also didn't report that the Kailash hospital, Noida that belongs to Dr Mahesh Sharma, the local BJP MP and a Union Minister of State, didn’t charge even a penny for the treatment of the duo.
After the incident stole all limelights in the media, the police went berserk. The FIR had some eight named accused and some unnamed. In the name of apprehending the unnamed accused, the police began torturing the village youth. A reign of terror was unleashed so much so that a young man, named Jai Prakash (25), who was a poor labourer, and unable to give any money to the police, had to commit suicide on October 6. The secular media swallowed the whole news.
And now something about the compensation offered to the bereaved family of Akhlaq. The Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav, has offered Rs. 45 lakhs together with a government job to one of Akhlaq’s son. The media failed to bring out the fact in this connection that only 18 days before the incident, that is on September 10, a police sub-inspector named Manoj Mishra (37), who was shot dead while on duty by bovine smugglers in the village Padarthnagar under Faridkot Police Station of Bareilly district, got only Rs 20 lakh from the state. Remember the case of a police inspector Zia-ul-Haq who having been killed while on duty in Kunda (district Pratapgarh) on March 2, 2013 received a wholesome 50 lakhs together two government jobs to his family. The secular media failed in its duty to point out that Akhilesh Yadav has breached his oath of office which contains words to the effect that he will do good to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Such stories of unequal treatment meted out to the Hindus in the matter of compensation can be easily multiplied. Karan Kaushik and Shubham Rastogi of Meerut are cases in point. The former was murdered by Muslims in September 2013, the latter on May 10, 2014. Both received ten lakhs only, and no government job to their siblings. The pseudo-secular media fails to appreciate the fact that such discrimination generates social tension.
-Ajay Mittal in Meerut