After giving us such chart-busting hit-jobs such as Communalizing Nun Rape, Newton out Aryabhatta in, and a double on an unofficial Subramanian Swamy account and Saffron uniforms in schools, The Britney Spears equivalent of the Indian MSM (mainstream media), Indian Express has done it once again, successfully converting Nepal’s tragedy into a caste battle, that too involving Modi and Dalits of Nepal! Yes, Modi hates Nepali dalits too!
This article with this headline “Dalit village wonders, if Modi Govt’s help will ever reach us” would probably make you believe that Modi is discriminating against a Dalit village in Nepal while providing relief material. It is entirely possible that Modi spends a good part of his day with Nepal’s caste-wise population register, altering Air Force plane routes so that they avoid Dalit villages, but to be honest, it’s not probable.
A closer look at Indian Express’s own article though exposes all their claims. First of all, the village in question is said to be “Sarki village atop hills under Bhaktpura”. As Contributing Editor at Newslaundry @ARangarajan1972 shows, the only village named “Sarki” is a good 112 kms away from Bhaktpura and not “under” it.
This is the only village named Sarki, 112 Km away from Bhaktapur. (Unless IE meant it as a generic description.) pic.twitter.com/UpC19bNFyY
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARangarajan1972) April 29, 2015
He also shows us another ground report by The Guardian, where the village it claims to be reporting from, falls exactly in the zone it says it is in:
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARangarajan1972) April 29, 2015
So, the very location of this village is in doubt. He further points out that while the article’s byline says “Bhaktipura”, the actual article says “Bhaktpura” whereas the actual name is “Bhaktapur”. Typos? or imaginary journalism where one area can have 3 different spellings.
Next, does this village need help that badly? Yes many towns and villages in Nepal have seen devastation, but obviously some places might have faced worse damage than others. It is natural for any government or organization to reach out to the ones who need help the most. Here too, Indian Express report fails.
The report itself says “only one person died in this village” and that “most stone and brick structures here have developed cracks beyond repair”. This is considerable damage, but not as much when we know there are more than 10000 dead all over Nepal. So exaggerated claims that Sarki is being ignored for being a “dalit village” are foolhardy.
Next, a villager from Sarki, Hari Bahadur Roka, himself trashes this “dalit” theory. He is quoted by the report to have said:
“People on the foothills are most benefited by any government compensation. They are busy saving people in towns. They have not ventured into the valleys to take a stock of actual damage”
So, the discrimination if any, is because of their geographical position, and not their caste. This also can be explained, because it is easier to reach foothills than villages on hilltops. And again, it is likely that more people stay in foothills than on mountains. Having said that, any government, Nepal or India, must provide relief material here too, but again, giving it a “Dalit” spin is cheap.
The last paragraph of this article, ones again kills the propaganda it attempts.
Even in the villages on the foothills, the better-off farmers, who too have suffered heavy damages, are complaining about no help from the government
Are these villages too “Dalit” villages? Are these “better off farmers” too dalits, who Modi has discriminated against? Or is this a case of inadequate disaster management techniques? Or is it because they are hilly areas, which might be difficult to reach? Or maybe because these areas have suffered lesser damage than most other areas?
Finally, is Mr Hari Bahadur Roka, from the “dalit village” actually a dalit? If this Nepali Twitter user is to be believed, “Roka’s” are not Dalits, and “Sarki” is not a village but actually a caste:
@rahulroushan And Roka’s aren’t dalits as far as I know. That article is total shit. Everything is made up in a room in India.
— Kanchan Shrestha (@mekanchan) April 29, 2015
If this Wikipedia post is to be believed, the surname ‘Roka’ is a common surname of the “Magar” caste. This is corroborated in this post. Further, “Magar” caste is called a “non-enslavable caste” here and the same post supports the Nepali twitter user’s claim that “Sarki” is a caste. It says “Sarki” is an untouchable caste, and the community is involved in “leather profession” i.e. they are cobblers. And Presto, the 2nd line of Indian Express says it is a “Dalit basti of cobblers”!
So Indian Express has:
1. Named a village called Sarki, when most probably it is a caste.
2. Possibly given the wrong location of this village since it is 112 kms away from where it claims it is.
3. Reported about a village with relatively less damage.
4. Itself said that the reason for not getting aid could be because it is on hilltops, not because it is full of Dalits.
5. Itself said that even “better off farmers” in other villages are still waiting for aid.
6. Quoted a person with surname “Roka” as a person from the Dalit community, whereas he probably is from the “Magar” caste which is clearly not a Dalit caste.
7. And finally, using all this cooked up data, framed a Casteist headline with an idiotic reference to Modi.
8. And lastly, as @ARangarajan1972 points out again, Indian Express could not even get the photo of the village correct. They tried to pass off a photo of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, as a photo of “Sarki” village. Maybe they didn’t have a pic because nobody went to this “dalit village”?