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Indian Media is the new fringe?

My client and I were watching news on television where they were showing Kashmiri youth shouting anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans. Some were also holding ISIS flags. My client had a question in mind “If 70% Kashmiris participated in the electoral process, why is the media giving so much disproportionate importance to these handful of miscreants?”

This was a very legitimate question but I had no logical answer except ‘If the media goes away, such demonstrations would also stop”

It then reminded me of the famous “church attacks” in Delhi which put the entire “Idea of India” in danger. Day in day out our media showed the reports of “church attacks” without waiting for investigation to be completed and facts be established, maybe because investigations would have spoilt their agenda of promoting a certain fringe. It turned out that most of these so-called ‘church attacks’ were nothing but a result of petty crimes and drunken assaults.

And what happens when our media broadcasts such unconfirmed, sensitive and often biased reports on national television? In my opinion, it increases animosity between the two communities because the minority community will feel threatened and aggravated and the majority will feel victimised.

Take the case of the news story involving one Misbah quadri, a young Muslim who claimed that she was denied a flat in a society because of her religion. Yes, such discrimination, especially in case of getting a place to stay happens a lot, but not just with Muslims. There are so many stories of bachelors, divorcee women, students of specific colleges or streams, and even people of other religions and communities being discriminated against when they search for a place to stay.

Yet, Media ran stories 24×7, sensationalising this story of Misbah Qadri, without any sort of verification. A few media outlets did try to trace the truth but the damage was done by then. And a few months ago, when the cops finally blew the lid and found no evidence to support her claim (in fact they found Muslim families living in the same building), the media failed to apologise to the Indian public whom they had taken for a ride.

The implications of this sort of sensationalism and untruthful reporting are too vast to even imagine. This creates a further divide between the two communities.

Dadri mob lynching. An old Muslim man was killed by a mob because of rumours that he had eaten beef. What the media did was something no sensible human will ever do. They went to rabid extremists like Sadhvi Prachi and Azam Khan for their views. If they wanted their viewers to maintain peace they could have shown how Akhlaq’s Hindu neighbours tried to help and saved his family but could not save his life. Reporting communal statements by leaders is quite different from deliberately approaching known trouble-makers and demanding sound bites which would further stoke communal passions.

Another instance of ‘religious intolerance’ was when the ban on sale of meat was increased from 2 days to 4 days during the Jain festival of Paryushan (forgiveness). Media kept on sensationalising the issue. Many People started looking at Jains as if they are extremists forcing their religion on others, which was what led to my outburst back then.

But, the news of Ganesh pandals giving space to Muslims so that they can offer namaz, or a Hindu temple giving space to a Muslim couple so that the woman can deliver her child are what the real “Idea of India” is made of and will remain so even if the media tries to project majority persecuting minority.

There are divisive elements in every community, who have waited for long to get their voices heard and mainstream media is knowingly or unknowingly becoming a platform for the Owaisis and the Sadhvi Prachis. They don’t speak for me or many others but the media still projects their opinion as the view of their respective community.

– written by Ankit Jain aka @indiantweeter

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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