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Communal face of Hindi Newspapers
By Manzar Mehdi

Non-patronage of Urdu newspapers and indifference of Urdu readers has not only reduced the demand for Urdu newspapers, it has also encouraged Hindi newspapers. Now Hindi newspapers know very well that even Urdu leadership has been compelled to read Hindi newspapers and that there is no powerful and mass-circulation Urdu newspaper today to contest or dispute whatever is written in Hindi newspapers. Now the activities and performances of Muslim organizations for the benefits and progress of the country and community are either not published at all or published in a small corner in the inner pages where very few people notice it.

After reading some Hindi newspapers it appears as if we are reading some pamphlets of RSS and not a newspaper. Prominent news are about Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, Go Raksha Samiti, Durga Bahini etc. If one reads the editorial, it would appear as if it has been written by RSS chief, Sudarshan or Shiv Sena chief Bal Thakrey. Formerly there was no anti-Muslim feeling in Hindi newspapers but for the last few years Islam and Muslims are being targeted boldly and shamelessly mainly because there is no influential spokesman of Muslims who could contradict baseless and false accusations against Muslims and present truth before the world. We have been compelled to share or accept all the biased and false accusations like all others. Whatever is written by Hindi newspapers is being accepted by the readers even if their conscience may refuse to believe everything.

When there was opposition to the film direction in Varanasi there was a competition between 'Dainik Jagran' and 'Hindustan' as to who gives more prominence to news about VHP on the front page and who contributes more to the popularity of VHP by publishing more news about it.

After the recent Kanpur riots the efforts of all the newspapers had been to prove the complicity of SIMI in these riots some how or the other and to get it banned. For this purpose every newspaper is publishing the news, in order to bring ill repute to SIMI, that in 1947 the Hindu Dewan filed an FIR that idols were placed on that day after 'Isha' prayers but unsuccessful efforts are continuously being made by the papers to disprove this fact. However, he forgot to consider that he is a correspondent whose journalistic ethics demand that he should present facts to the people. Like the chief of an organization or like a political leader he wrote: 'The temple at this site was definitely a temple in whichever form it might have been, even today it is a temple and will remain a temple in future also.'

A few months ago when Muslims had closed their shops in Sabzi Mandi 'mohalla' of Faizabad in protest against police excesses and cruelties against Muslims, the same newspaper had written. 'Today when minorities closed their shops and business, it appeared as if illegal occupation had been removed.'

After demolition of Babri Masjid when riots had broken out in Aligarh, an organized conspiracy was hatched on a large scale to spoil the image of medical college attached to the Aligarh University. Many national newspapers had written that doctors of the medical college had meted out inhuman treatments to non-Muslim patients admitted in the college and that instead of treating the patients, they had added to their pains and worries by torturing them in different ways. Drips or oxygen being administered to patients to die without being taken care of. In addition to damaging the image of the college, such baseless news had created great unrest among the general public.

A few days after the riots the state president of Congress , Rajinder Kumari Vajpayee toured Aligarh. It was just by chance that at that time I had gone to my elder brother, Dr Reyaz Mehdi. He took me also along with the Congress leader, Dr Jalal Rizvi to see the riot affected areas and assess the true picture and also to talk to the patients to find out truth. Thereafter we talked to the staff of medical college but no one confirmed the unpleasant news published in the newspapers. In the evening when Madam talked to news persons, all of them were eager to listen about the truth or otherwise of the disturbing news about the terrible atmosphere in the medical college which they had published in their newspapers. The Congress leader Pajinder Kumari Vajpayee categorically announced that condition in the medical college were perfectly alright. There is neither any atmosphere of fear and suspicion nor any misbehaviour or ill treatment was meted out to patients. Ms Vajpayee went away after speaking the truth but next day the papers wrote what they had been writing as usual. However, one line was added at the end that Rajider Kumari Vajpayee did not confirm the news published in their newspapers.

Parties projecting themselves Muslim-friendly are also silent about such misleading news and press council of India also remains deaf and dumb. As far as Muslim leaders are concerned, may God bless them. They do not do any thing even by mistake which may do some good to their community. If they do not wake up under these conditions, when will they wake up? How long will they go on spending money to read news and articles written against them?

Now newspapers are no longer only a source of news, entertainment or information. They are now being used as swords and shields. If you are not bold enough to come out in the open with a sword, the crusaders of Urdu are at least giving you a dagger in the form of Urdu newspaper for your protection which you must hold firmly lest these small newspaper may also be wound up and you may be left alone in the dark to listen silently to all abuses. You should not buy Urdu newspapers only for reading news but you must get yourself attached to them because by doing so, their circulation will increase. More and more newspapers will be published, requiring more staff and providing employment to unemployed youth who in any case will be Urdu-knowing people of our community and nation. When there will be more circulation, ads will also be given to them and with greater income, better quality newspapers will also be published with greater number of pages which will serve as shields not only to protect ourselves but also to be used as swords in case of need. Newspapers publishing aggressive and misleading news and views will be paid back in their own coin by equally, and may be more, aggressive but truthful retorts. All this power can be acquired with a few rupees that you may spend for an Urdu newspaper.
(Translated from Urdu)
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