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Not a breaking news: Why Indian mainstream media ‘hates’ Hindus

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By Gaurav Sharma

Media occupies a cardinal place in the functioning of any democracy. As a watchdog, it serves a critical role in ensuring the honest working of the government.

The professional essence of this fourth estate is to provide reliable information based on principles of truthfulness and impartiality.

The mainstream Indian media is, however, totally adrift from such a mode of working. Far from making judicious use of the power of information, it highlights every accident, rape and murder as ‘breaking news’ in a desperate attempt to win over TRP’s from its closest competitor.

Apart from such regular cases of motivated sensationalism, the mainstream media, rather the anglicized media, is characterized by a seething alienation towards the majority section of the Indian populace, the Hindus.

While the Hindus have been subjected to rapidly increasing cases of violence, abuse and inhumane treatment both in India and in foreign lands, the Indian media has willfully remained oblivious of their plight.

Deliberately choosing to magnify sporadic and limited cases of minority discrimination, the media has turned a blind eye to more widespread and regular instances of brutality against Hindus.

The Hindu population in neighboring nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka has declined abysmally, a fact which has been either overlooked or subsided by the mainstream media.

In Pakistan, Hindu numbers have declined by a whopping 90 per cent. According to the Pakistani Human Rights Commission, as many as 20-25 cases of abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu women are reported every day. Consequently, a majority of the Hindus have been forced to flee Pakistan.

Also, Hindus now constitute less than 10 per cent of the total population in Bangladesh, down from around 20 per cent in 1972. Cases of violence perpetrated against Hindus, restrictions on the practice of their religion along with exercise of discriminatory property rights abound in erstwhile East Pakistan.

The Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka are a victim of even greater atrocities. Their religious and civil rights have been curtailed largely due to a large scale Buddhisization of the northern and eastern part of Lanka.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives, a leading think-tank noted in its March 2013 report, “Access to temples in High Security Zones and areas restricted by the military, military intrusion into religious practices and rituals, Buddhist and other religious symbols being set up in the vicinity of Hindu religious sites, allegations of destruction of kovils (Hindu temples with Dravidian architecture) and shrines, concerns of conversions from Hinduism to other religions, are the major impediments Hindus are facing.”

Similar cases of forced conversion, or at the very least, neglect of Hindus have resulted in the marginalization of Hindus in Fiji, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Malaysia. Majority of them have migrated to USA or UK in search for a better and more respectable life.

The Indian media has remained a mute spectator throughout this religious persecution, a carnage that has engulfed the Hindus right in their own backyard.

The government is equally negligent of the gruesome subversion of Hindus. Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza finds a mention in the Indian Parliament, while a puny utterance of the dismal condition of Hindu refugees seems like a Herculean task for the politicos.

The main reason for such a hypocritical and seemingly biased behaviour, both by the government and the media, stems from a warped interpretation of Secularism.

Secularism means segregation of religious and spiritual matters from governance. However, in India, this entails financial and legal privileges for those belonging to religions other than Hinduism.

Such a narrow perception of secularism is ingrained and embedded in the modus operandi of the mainstream media in the country. For example, while the Godhra riots are castigated as communal violence against Muslims, the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits barely finds a mention in the mainstream media discourse.

There is enough evidence to cite that the Godhra riots began as a retribution of the burning of a train which had killed 58 Hindu pilgrims and religious workers.

However, the Indian media chose to showcase the state government under the leadership of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as complicit in the mass killing of Muslims, a charge which the Special Investigation Team (SIT), under the Supreme Court outrightly rejected.

The demolition of Babri Masjid is another case which was widely sensationalised by the media. However, the desecration of a wide number of temples (208) in Kashmir, which followed the fall of Babri Masjid failed to find a place in the media reportage.

More than 75 historic temples in Bangladesh were destroyed in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid tragedy. Similar large scale attacks on Hindu places of worship in Pakistan and other neighbouring countries could not alter the media’s one-pointed, belligerent discourse on Hindutva.

The media failed or chose to remain silent on Allahabad High Court’s crucial observation discrediting the testimonies of historians and archaeologists who appeared on behalf of the Sunni Waqf board.

Another example of the one-sided media approach towards contentious issues is the phenomenalization of the banning of Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. At the same time, the media was mum on author Tasleema Nasreen’s horrendous assailment at the hands of Islamist mobs.

The media became fixated with the ban, which was attained through constitutional means but remained oblivious to Tasleema’s plight, after the criticism of Islam forced her to shift home from Calcutta due to violent protests from MIM leaders.

The media bias does not end here. There has been a furore over mass conversions of Muslims and Christians into Hindus, under the creation of a ‘Ghar-Wapsi’ campaign.

On the other hand, the evangelising and proselytizing of Hindus, which has continued since independence and much before that, through billions of dollars of Church grants, escapes the short-sighted glance of the Indian media.

Such religious apathy inevitably translates into selective presentations and motivated reporting that has now become a vital part of the Indian media functioning. By undermining fairness, truth and objectivity, the basic planks of journalistic ethics, the Indian media is doing a great disservice to the nation.

Introspection holds prime import for the Indian media, if it does not want to lose the tiny shred of credibility that covers its naked body.

 

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Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village

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Rohingya
Rohingya refugee women wait outside of a medical center at Jamtoli camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar last year are living in fear after being told they are on a list of over 2,200 people due to be forcibly returned to the country this month.

Some have said they are considering taking their own lives to avoid being sent back to Rakhine state, where Myanmar’s military is accused of waging a genocidal campaign of mass murder and rape.

“If we go back, they can kill us, they can torture us. We have already lost everything once,” said one man from the Jamtoli camp, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who was told by camp officials he is on the list along with his family.

Bangladesh and Myanmar last month struck a deal to begin returning Rohingya refugees by “mid-November”. The 2,200 names were picked from a list of 8,000 that Bangladesh gave to Myanmar in February.

Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, Abul Kalam, has told Human Rights Watch the Rohingya on the list “were not chosen because they particularly wanted to go back.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since August last year from what UN investigators say is genocide. Myanmar has consistently denied the charge and says the campaign was a legitimate response to what it called terrorist attacks.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee,has called on both countries to scrap the plan to return people this month, warning Rohingya face a “high risk of persecution” if returned.

Rohingya
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

The plan may also “violate obligations under customary international law to uphold the principle of non-refoulement,” she added.

“Bangladesh should not be sending anyone at this time,” Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist, told VOA. “Forcing survivors and refugees back to the killing fields where genocide is still going on is complicity in genocide.”

A humanitarian who works closely with the Rohingya community in Bangladesh said that, although Rohingya at Jamtoli had been told they are on the list, names had not yet been officially confirmed. Until the UN’s refugee agency receives an official list from the Bangladeshi government, “we’re not entirely sure,” who is due to be returned, they said.

They added that they were aware of one man who had attempted suicide after hearing he was on the list: “The issue is that the lack of clarity and communication alone is already causing harm regardless of whether repatriation actually starts.”

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya children and a woman at an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

Rohingya who believe they are on the list told VOA that a block leader in their camp said they would be moved to another location inside Bangladesh on November 12 in preparation for their return.

Myanmar has this year built “reception centers” and “transit camps” to house and process the expected returnees.

The facilities are surrounded by barbed wire and security posts, and advocates fear the camps could become permanent homes for returning Rohingya. “They are like concentration camps,” said Nay San Lwin.

Myanmar government spokesperson Zaw Htay told VOA he could not comment for this story.

Rohingya, India
Some Rohingya women and children in an unidentified refugee colony in West Bengal, eastern India. VOA

The Rohingya man from the Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh, who was told his family was on the list last week, said his mother recently fainted from the stress.

As he was fleeing Rakhine state in September last year he saw his nephew and son-in-law shot dead, he said.

“Other families who are being sent back are crying loudly, all day and night,” he told VOA. “One family on the list have lost their parents. They’re crying, they have no one to look after them.”

One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child
One of the Rohingya Refugees settled in the hut with their fifth child . BENAR.

Another man who was informed he was on the list told VOA he witnessed troops killing people from his village as he fled Rakhine state at the end of August last year. “They were killing everyone, small children, the elderly, everyone,” he said.

Also Read: Should Promote Human Rights More in Myanmar: Facebook

Earlier this week two block leaders – Rohingya volunteers who help refugees communicate with officials – approached him with a form and asked how many family members he has, and for a picture of the head of the family.

He refused, he said, and an argument ensued. “We will never agree to go,” he told them. “If they make us go we will take our own lives here, this is our final decision.” (VOA)