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Urdu periodicals decline in UP
By M. J. Akhter, Lucknow

Jangling noises from Urdu publishing houses in Uttar Pradesh are fading out rapidly as guardians of the language are resigning from the noble task of nurturing it. ‘Government apathy is the prime reason for the dwindling Urdu newspapers and periodicals in the state,’ according to a study.

Conducted by the National News and Features, a features agency in the state, the study raises the alarm that 'Urdu Press is dying in Uttar Pradesh, where Urdu is the second official language'.

Over the past five years, at least 103 Urdu newspapers and reputed periodicals have shut down in the state, where Muslims form a quarter of the total population, the study says.

Besides, more than 100 newspapers and periodicals are on the verge of closure, the study reveals. It further states that only 148 newspapers and periodicals out of the total of 350 now manage a presence.

'Erosion of these media institutions is calamitous for the cultural heritage of the country,' cautions the report. The prominent dailies which ceased to exist include Qaumi Awaz and Azaim, considered to be the trendsetters of contemporary Urdu journalism, laments National News and Features Chief Editor Harish C Choudhry.

Other prominent dailies that closed down were Qaumi Jung, Nazim and Aeilan (Rampur), Mazdoor Vahini (Kanpur), Noor-e-Bareilly (in Kanpur), Dukhti Rag (Kanpur), Subh-e-Awadh (Gorakhpur), Alas-Subh (Lucknow), Ghazi Sandesh (Bahraich), Garaj, Aina-e-Alam and Moonis (Moradabad), Mishal-e-Azadi (Aligarh), Sardar Times (Azamgarh), Safeer (Etawah) and Siyasat Doot (in Farrukhabad).

Only 148 newspapers and periodicals out of 350 somehow manage to show their presence’, the study said, adding that this was the situation in the state where Urdu is the second official language and an estimated 25 per cent of the total Muslim population of the country resides.

‘It is calamitous for cultural heritage of the country that 103 newspapers and reputed periodicals have ceased to survive and they included daily Qaumi Awaz and Azaim, who had been the trend setters of the contemporary Urdu journalism’, said agency's chief editor Harish C. Choudhry, although it is a fact that Rashtriya Sahara is trying its best to fill the vacuum created the closure of these newspapers, he added. Other prominent dailies which ceased publication include Qaumi Jung, Nazim and Aeilan (all Rampur), Mazdoor Vahini (Kanpur), Noor-e-Bareilly (Kanpur), Dukhti Rag (Kanpur), Subh-e- Awadh (Gorakhpur), Alas-Subh (Lucknow), Ghazi Sandesh (Bahraich), Garaj, Aina-e-Alam and Moonis, (Moradabad), Mishal-e-Azadi (Aligarh), Sardar Times (Azamgarh), Safeer (Etawah) and Siyasat Doot (Farrukhabad). Among the journals which were, according to the study rather forced for the closure in Uttar Pradesh included Hind Ki Awaz, Al-fatah and Aain-e-Adab (all Bareilly), Mashriq, Al-Bayan and Tameer-e-Qaum (all Gorakhpur), Khoj Khabar (Lucknow), Haridwar Gazette (Haridwar), Safeer-e-Mulk (Fatehpur), Halat-e-Jadeed (Mau), Beete Lamhe and Siyasi Rang (both Varanasi) and Nishan, Sitapur Times and Shua-e-Adab (all Sitapur).

‘The situation is so grim that it can be said that by and large the whole State is emerging as a non-Urdu State, which had a glorious past and enriched the Ganga-Jamuni culture’, observed scholar Maulana Hamza Nadwi, pointing out that districts like Aligarh, Azamgarh, Meerut, Rampur, Bahraich and Allahabad had lost their pride and were even without any Urdu daily newspaper of their own.

Mr. Irfan Siddiq, a eminent poet and retired IIS officer and other experts in the field says that this deplorable situation had a lot to do with the policy of the Uttar Pradesh Government as they had stopped whatever meagre support they were providing to the Urdu daily newspapers, contrary to the policy adopted by the Congress-ruled State of Madhya Pradesh where newspapers were getting routine Government advertisement support. ‘If such a dismal state of affairs is allowed to continue in Uttar Pradesh for a year or so, as per the survey conclusion, about 83 per cent of Urdu newspapers, periodicals and journals would cease to exist’, the report says, adding that ‘this will deal a body blow and an irreparable loss to our culture and linguistic heritage so painstakingly nuturued over a period of centuries.

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