Will the Media Mend its Ways?

Will the Media Mend its Ways?

Media meddling with news may not be anything new, but its gross misreporting of the Delhi tragedy, close on the heels of Trump’s return, serves well to dwarf its own misreporting of the earlier issues apparently connected with the CAA. To say the least, it comes as a rude shock to the real victims, adding insult to injury. Further, it is a grim reminder that a tacit, yet no less traumatic, war is being waged all the time against India, with media as the “weapon of truth-distortion”. This is, therefore, a wake-up call to all Indians to see through the diabolical designs of the media and stay on guard. Flying in the face of journalistic ethos, it is yet another telling example of media’s self-centered callousness, and establishes, beyond doubt, the fact that it would stoop down to any low to conceal, downplay, exaggerate, or otherwise spin the truth to suit its narrative.

To the unbiased observer, it must be clear that among the victims there were both Hindus and Muslims. But among the provocateurs, all evidence aside, does it not stand to reason to say that there could not have been anybody other than the anti-CAA lobby? Would it be possible in any other country to throw incendiary gauntlets at, or incite violence against, the majority, or openly threaten to break peace? Or, would it be possible in this country to even politely point at the mistakes or the misconception of the minority, and hope to get pampered, or pitied for that? The various outlets of the media embarked upon a concerted effort to demonize Hindus and the Indian Government, and garner sympathy for Muslims. However, it must be noted that this is a neutral, factual, albeit an unfortunate, observation, and is by no means an attempt to undermine the suffering of an innocent Muslim or exonerate an erring Hindu. Moreover, it is intended only to irrefutably expose media’s predilection to highlight one side of the true narrative and twist or completely obscure the other—a deliberate attempt to instill hatred between citizens of a united nation—and vilify that nation in the global arena.

Just a bird’s eye view of what the media has done in its collective reportage is enough to understand what it is running after. Even as the rest of the “media world” was thundering, “riots…riots…”, The Guardian, the UK-based daily, made a groundbreaking discovery to the contrary; that is, it was not a riot at all! It observed thus: “Hindu Nationalist Rampage…. The violence in Delhi is not a riot; it is targeted anti-Muslim brutality.” Further, it compared this with the whites attacking the West Indians in 1958. Given the true story of this Delhi episode, and The Guardian’s version of it, the blacks, whites, browns, yellows, and those yet to be coloured will start questioning the veracity of all the news reports past, present, and the future, of this Daily, including those pertaining to the 1958 Black-White episode!

Next, the BBC, which needs no introduction whatsoever, declared, “Sectarian violence…. The unrest has been centered in the Muslim majority neighbourhood…Muslim homes and shops have been deliberately targeted….” The dutiful news anchor displayed zero fatigue in repeating “Muslim” every time. Further in the same report, an on-field freelance journalist was shown saying that there was no police; there were mobs holding sticks, sporting saffron “Tika” on their heads and openly calling for the extermination of Muslims, and that she went there as a journalist, but was “really, really” scared because they were not receptive of journalists, and also because she was a Muslim herself. So, by her own account, a lady, a Muslim, a freelancer without any backup or protection was able to present herself in the midst of an armed, unruly, Hindu mob, unreceptive of journalists, all set to exterminate Muslims, and was able to come back unharmed, in the thick of the action! Whatever way it grabs the listener, the good news is that she did come back safe, for she was there, as large as life, to testify for the BBC, with a smirk on her face. Another reporter on-field quoted Muslims as saying the police “abetted” the Hindus…. Thus, within the same 3:41 minute video clipping, one field journalist was saying that there was absolutely no police while the other was quoting Muslims as saying the police abetted the Hindus!

In another report, the BBC equated these riots to those of Gujarat. If the BBC wanted something to compare and form an equation, there are so many other instances that could lend greater merit to that equation. But those instances are proven brutalities against Hindus. What could the poor BBC do? Further, it is public knowledge that the BBC ran lopsided narratives in its coverage of the Kashmir issue, including the recent abrogation of article 370, obscuring the facts of Indian soldiers, leave alone Hindu Pandits and civilians, being attacked by armed terrorists. They simply kept on parroting, “Muslims were being butchered.” But all that is small wonder as the BBC and The Guardian have a long and notorious history of deliberately trying to malign India’s repute with their far-from-accurate reportage. In India, the BBC was even banned for a time in the past, for its wanton misreporting of facts against India, in favour of Pakistan. Churchill once remarked, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Is it perhaps this military counsel from that celebrated war wizard of their own land that the BBC and The Guardian have adopted in their informational warfare?

Turning to the US, The Washington Post and CNN termed the riots as “pogrom of Muslims” — a claim perhaps the Jews themselves would refute! Then, CNN and MSNBC joined hands to make meteoric predictions as warnings: “The NRC will strip millions of Muslims of citizenship in a diabolically clever two-step way” warned CNN, while the MSNBC warned, “200 million Indian Muslims will be disenfranchised.” The truth is that hordes and hordes of Muslim infiltrators, primarily from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and some from Afganistan and other countries, have in the past been illegally enfranchised by corrupt politicians scavenging for their votes. Some of those infiltrators are terrorists or have terrorist connections, and their mission is to wipe out India. If CNN or MSNBC is so empathetic with terrorists, why do they not recommend taking them into the US? Further, these infiltrators have been entitled to all the benefits of a legitimate citizen, including those benefits that are limited to minority groups. Bernie Sanders, a US Democratic presidential candidate tweeted, “riots all across India…”, when everyone knew the violence was localized in North-Eastern Delhi — not that when it is localized, it is of lesser concern, but imagine something of this magnitude “all across India!” — let us hope we do not ever come to see such a thing anywhere in the world. Further, he went on to say, “widespread anti-Muslim mob violence…”, and seized the occasion to make a jibe at Trump, by quoting him, “That’s up to India.” Was Trump wrong in his observation that it was India’s internal affair? Was Sanders trying to instigate Trump to wage a war on India, and that too, for an invalid cause? Such opportunists seek to derive twofold benefits out of others’ misfortunes: one, to malign other nations, and two, to advance their political interests in their own countries. The New York Times pitched in with its outlandish observation, “The police were firing at Muslims and shielding Hindu rioters.” It is not the police but the media that is shielding the provocateurs and the real rioters, and firing false criticism at Hindus, the police and the Indian Government! Not only on this but also on several previous occasions at different places, it was the police who were attacked by the so-called peaceful protesters. And, the media did nothing different on those occasions either. Al Jazeera, though based in Qatar, is mostly Western in its outlook. Nonchalant about serious Human Rights violations on its own soil, this media outlet maintained, “New Delhi hit by worst violence in decades…. The government incited supporters to attack protesters…” When the government has the power, why should it incite supporters to do anything, knowing quite well that such an action will backfire on the government itself? Thus, in matters against India, this channel can be heard echoing the Western voice.

Ankit Mishra, the 27-year-old Intelligence Bureau officer was dragged out, and as learnt from the postmortem reports, was tortured for four to five hours, and stabbed multiple times, after which his body was dumped into a ditch. Perhaps realizing that this horrendous lynching had gone unreported in the bulk of the Western media, The Wall Street Journal, a US-based daily, said in its prompt report that Ankit Mishra was leading a mob! And, going into further details it had none other than the victim’s own brother, Ankur Sharma, as saying, “Rioters came armed with stones, rods, knives and even swords. They shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’….”—an incendiary claim which the shock-and-grief-ridden Ankur Sharma rejected as completely false. Much before, the victim’s family had complained against Tahir Hussain and had never swerved from the line of their complaint. Thankfully, the Delhi police and the Maharashtra police have registered a complaint against the daily for defaming a particular religion and spreading communal tension…. provocative defamation…. etc. Ratan Lal, the police constable, was brutally killed. Dilwar Singh Negi, a 20-year-old, had his limbs severed before being burnt alive (or half-dead?). Leave alone minor incidents, even such gruesome attacks on the Hindus and the policemen too turned out to be blind spots of the Western media! As the situation was going from bad to worse, with policemen themselves being brutalized, the paramilitary force had to be pressed into action. What ensued after this was attempts to throw acid on paramilitary personnel. How does all that compare with the claim that armed Hindu mobs were the rioters, and the police their aide? Could there be anything more painful than to be stigmatized as the perpetrator of, or the abettor, in a heinous crime while being the victim of it?

“Selective reporting” would be an understatement, for it was not only a case of selecting convenient incidents to report but also one of distorting the others. Further, the subtlety with which it was all done in order to make a subliminal impact is astounding. For instance, the words used in the reports to refer to Hindus and Muslims were so meticulously chosen: Hindu rioters, Hindu hooligans, Hindu vandals, Hindu mobs armed with stones, sticks, rods, swords, etc., vis-a-vis Muslims, Muslim families, Muslim women and children, innocent Muslim victims, etc., with the qualifiers “Hindu” and “Muslim” painstakingly attached to every description every time. The Hindu Sacred Mark on the forehead, whether present or not, and shouts of “Jai Shri Ram”, whether heard or not, were anyway used to identify the offenders as Hindus in off-site commentaries wherein the people themselves were not shown. Moreover, even the pleasantries like “peaceful protesters” went missing, probably because they feared something like “protest” or “protesters” might shift the focus a bit. Such pleasantries had earlier been employed as the catchphrase to refer to mobs that blocked roads, blocked access to hospitals, pelted stones, forced shuttering down of shops, threatened and attacked the police by “boldly” hiding behind women and children. Thus, the description, phrasing, visuals, commentary, casualty count, and every tangible and intangible aspect of the coverage were diligently channelized to tow the anti-Hindu line.

“It is after all the Western media which perhaps contorts the truth; why should it matter to an Indian, sitting in India?”, some might ask! First, it is not only the Western media that contorts the truth but also an insidious section of the Indian media, working either as independent outlets or as unregistered collaborators. For instance, the NDTV made serious attempts to have the pistol-flashing Sharuk Pathan masqueraded as someone by the name “Anurag Mishra.” But when video clippings of Sharuk pointing his pistol threateningly at a policeman armed with just a baton went viral and the gunman’s true identity became irrefragable, attempts were diverted toward mitigating public anger! Further, it tried to show Tahir Hussain, from whose house a huge cache of makeshift munitions such as stones, sticks, including pistols, petrol bombs, acid pouches, etc., was recovered, as “the target, not the attacker!” Second, the Western media is no longer confined to the West; it has a vibrant presence with a large following within India, and unfortunately, whatever comes out of the West is almost guaranteed to pass muster in India. Third, it serves as a welcoming hangout for unscrupulous journalists who, born and bred in India, calling themselves Indians, would never let go of an opportunity to put at stake the Indian National interest. Fourth, it sways the global mindset toward some severely skewed notions like “India is a land of Barbarians.” Last, but not least, its reports are being used against India by countries inimical to India, in international forums. 

On the intricate fabric of information transfer, there are those who deliberately distort the truth and also those who blindly depend on inputs unaware of the nature of the input source. That is, even when the Western correspondents communicate with open hearts, what they get from their Indian counterparts comprising journalists, politicians, lawyers, and people of eminent standing is but a laundry list of very negative inputs. However, for curiosity’s sake, what would happen if Indian media tried to do to those countries what their media does to India? To cite just one past instance of a similar (not the same) kind, Ofcom, a UK media regulatory body, pulled up an Indian media house for voicing the truth, just the truth, which was justifiably against Pakistan! Anyway, that is a different story.

What goes mostly unnoticed is that the Western media rallies around in support of Muslims only in the presence of a Hindu factor, clearly to project the Hindu as a common enemy. At all other times, it remains highly critical of Islam, projecting the Muslim as a global enemy! For instance, in its rhetoric of “war against terrorism,” it calls the whole of Islam “Barbaric”, peddles lies, and casts such aspersions on Muslims—things which the much-maligned Hindu would never think of doing. It makes scurrilous remarks and sweeping statements which do not care to even hint at the essential distinction between Muslims and militants, or terrorists. The Muslim community, especially those members who tend to take refuge in what is offered as voluntary support, would certainly stand to benefit from an objective realization of this turncoat tactic of the Western media.

Further, the role which the social media played was no less critical. It did serve to bring to light some truth concealed or convoluted by the mainstream. But with its wide and easy access, cutting across geographical boundaries, instances of false reporting seemed to outnumber those of the true ones, by a big margin. This estimate, however, does not take into account the comparative intensity of the news, given the fact that false reporting has no encumbrances except perhaps that the reports must look real, while the true ones have to be fact-based for truth’s sake! Thus, it became a kind of side-stream to bolster or blow up the malicious mainstream narratives. Mind-boggling numbers of YouTube channels, other social media accounts, and telephone numbers were used to circulate fake news. There were lopsided “Handles” and “Hashtags” with follow-ups galore: #HinduTerror… #StateSponsoredHinduTerror… #HinduSponsoredStateTerror… and so on. Unfortunately, when unsuspecting information seekers get the same stuff all around, they naturally become inclined to take it as authenticated.

Further, even on social media, the prominence of the source of the information can have a bearing on the recipients’ readiness to accept it. One tweet on India goes thus: “…a cheapie startup with no history before 1947, India is behaving like a rogue state in the name of democracy and non-violence…the first step in disenfranchising Indian Muslims.” The person who made this tweet is not any Tom, Dick, or Harry—Dr. Syed Andrabi, Political Analyst UK, Director of London Institute of Politics! The point is that one message from a prominent source has the potential to edge out a myriad of messages from unfamiliar sources. However, when challenged to quote just one line of the CAA, in a heated debate, this prominent personality fell flat on his face!

The bulk of the media is dead set against India. The Delhi tragedy is the latest grist for the media mill. There are evil forces, outside and inside, ever on a war footing quite literally, trying to destroy India without a trace. There are also the political parties, both national and regional, who support and are supported by these forces. They survive primarily by stirring up inter-communal and intra-communal hatred. These political outfits always take the anti-Hindu side. They raise in revolt against any move to save India. Media becomes their favoured weapon. Thus, as long as people keep welcoming what conforms to their bias, the truth will remain camouflaged; evil forces will be glorified as leaders; provocateurs will be hailed as peacemakers; victims will be vilified as offenders; perpetrators will be pitied as targets. If the cheetah will not shed its spots, it must be confined to the cage. If the media will not mend its ways, it must be condemned to the rags. Jai Hind!

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