Friday, November 5, 2010

Chapter 6- The channels' strategy of attacking BJP and Sangh Parivar

            The 24-hour private TV channels, both Hindi and English, which are horribly anti-BJP, anti-VHP and anti-Sangh Parivar, have a lot of credibility. This is so because, though they are full of hatred for the BJP and its ideological allies like the Shiv Sena, VHP and company, they do not generally openly attack these people. Of course the exception was the Gujarat Assembly polls in December 2002 when they openly became the mouthpiece of the Congress and reported horribly anti-BJP. But otherwise, they have a lot of credibility.

             In Tamil Nadu, some of the media is controlled by the local Dravidian parties- the DMK and the AIADMK. For TV channels, the DMK has the Sun TV and the AIADMK, i.e. Jayalalitha has the Jaya TV. Neither Sun TV nor Jaya TV have any credibility. Nor do any of the newspapers of the Dravidian parties. If Sun TV attacks Jayalalitha, it has absolutely no effect on the common man who knows very well that Sun TV is nothing but the mouthpiece of the DMK. Similarly, if Jaya TV attacks DMK or its chief M Karunanidhi, it also has absolutely no effect on the common man, since he knows that Jaya TV is the mouthpiece of the AIADMK.

              But why then do the Hindi and English TV news channels have credibility? Why does their criticism of the BJP, VHP and the Sangh Parivar find takers, and how does their reporting change the view of the common man? Why do the images of BJP leaders take a beating when these TV channels like NDTV, Aaj Tak or Star News attack them? Why has “Narendra Modi’s language” become a standard reference and not “Kapil Sibal’s language” or “Sonia Gandhi’s language”?

            The reason is simple. The methods of attacking (BJP and the Sangh Parivar) of these channels. NDTV, both Hindi and English, is nothing but the de-facto mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as we will see in another chapter. But NDTV still succeeds in maligning the BJP, the VHP and other organizations of the Sangh Parivar and also the pseudo-secular allies of the NDA like the TDP, the Trinamool Congress and the JD(U) and glorifying the CPM, which murders its opponents brutally in both Kerala and West Bengal. Let us look at the strategy of attacking BJP of NDTV.

               ‘The Big Fight’ is one of the most popular programmes of NDTV. Earlier, Rajdeep Sardesai anchored it, but after he quit NDTV in April 2005, Vikram Chandra, another staunch anti-BJP man, anchors it. Rajdeep Sardesai is not a Communist but as anti-BJP as any Communist. ‘The Big Fights’ almost always result in loss for the BJP or like-minded persons and win for the opponent. Not just ‘The Big Fight’ but all other debates on NDTV, both English and Hindi, result is the same. This is because the strategy of NDTV is carefully planned. (As of June 2006)

             In any debate, the number of people belonging to the Hindu school of thought is always less than the number of people belonging to the opposite ideology. The Hindu participants in any debate, are, so to say, overwhelmingly outnumbered. If in any debate, there are 3 participants, then two of them are always anti-BJP people and each other’s allies. If all 3 participants talk for one minute in any debate, then the BJP is attacked for two minutes and the BJP participant gets one minute in which to answer the charges made by the other two and make charges on the other two. The anchor, of course, is horribly anti-BJP be it Vikram Chandra or Rajdeep Sardesai, or the Hindi anchor Debang. And thus it is 3 against 1. The Hindu participants are also only from the BJP which being a political party has to take a very moderate stand. For example, on Godhra, BJP has to say, “RJD- Congress are defending the real culprits of Godhra.” And it does not say, “Congress is white washing the sins of 2,000 fanatic Muslims who killed 59 karsevaks in Godhra including 40 women and children.” The BJP participants also many times seem to be rank political opportunists, sycophants and have absolutely no ideological commitment to defend the Hindu cause. They are miles away from the ground and do not have any contact with the BJP supporters and they do not read weeklies like ‘Organiser’ (which is the English weekly of the RSS).

          This is what happened in ‘The Big Fight’ broadcast on NDTV English on 17 and 18 January 2004 on NDTV on the subject India Shining’. The participants were Kapil Sibal of the Congress, Arun Jaitley, the then Law Minister of the BJP and Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M). Now what was the locus standi of Sitaram Yechury in this debate? There was absolutely no reason on earth why he was invited in this debate except for the fact that he made it 2 against 1, or rather, 3 against 1 because Rajdeep Sardesai was also staunchly anti-BJP. CPM leaders and Congress leaders never attack each other in such debates. Both Sitaram Yechury and Kapil Sibal united against Arun Jaitley and never spoke a word against each other, nor were they meant to. CPM and Congress leaders are always meant to attack the BJP or any of its allies unitedly. In the above-mentioned debate all three of them concentrated their attacks on Arun Jaitley but he was more than a match for them. Being one of the best debaters in the country, Arun Jaitley steamrolled over both of them.

          In April 2004, NDTV Hindi did the same thing. This time, in Hindi, they called Kapil Sibal and Sitaram Yechury and Ravishankar Prasad of the BJP. This was when the feel-good factor and the India Shining’ campaign had already peaked and was going down. Though a good debater and now the national spokesman of the party, Ravishankar Prasad could not match the combined strength of the CPM-Congress combine and the anchor Debang who was also against the BJP. Ravishankar Prasad kept fighting a losing battle and never once blasted NDTV for its pro-CPM anti-BJP stance and never questioned the presence of Sitaram Yechury and charged NDTV with putting 2 against 1. But when he kept losing various points, he finally said one sentence in Hindi,
          “Aapne to mujh par in dono ko chhod diya hein lekin mein in dono ka saamana karunga.” (You have let both these people loose on me, but I will encounter both of them). BJP lost that debate.

          But again, sheer lack of confidence and ability to understand the evil designs of the CPM and NDTV led the BJP to lose that debate badly. Ravishankar Prasad did not question the locus standi of Sitaram Yechury and condemn NDTV repeatedly and threaten that BJP and its NDA allies will make a complete boycott of NDTV and not participate in any of its programmes unless NDTV changes its ways. Because the problem of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar is not that they are too hard, but that they are very defensive and have no self-confidence.

          In August 2004, Manishankar Aiyar of the Congress, Union Petroleum Minister insulted the great freedom fighter Swatantryaveer Savarkar. In that month, during the debate on Savarkar, NDTV invited Congress spokesman Devendra Nath Dwivedi, and a woman from the Jawaharlal Nehru University who was a professor of history there, i.e. a staunch Communist, a BJP person and Kumar Ketkar, of ‘The Loksatta’ (A Marathi daily, the Marathi counterpart of ‘The Indian Express’) and of course the debate was anchored by Rajdeep Sardesai. That made it 4 against 1 with all 4 of them targeting the member of the BJP. While Kumar Ketkar did speak in favour of Swatantryaveer Savarkar, he also attacked the BJP along with CPM (i.e. JNU), Congress and Rajdeep Sardesai. The BJP man lost that debate despite being a good ideologically committed person, perhaps because he also did not realize at that time that NDTV is not a normal TV channel but the de-facto mouthpiece of the CPI(M) and its intention is to attack BJP and insult freedom fighters and national heroes like Swatantryaveer Savarkar. And in that debate, Swatantryaveer Savarkar was insulted once again.

         As another point in its anti-BJP, anti-Hindu strategy, NDTV always invites weak Hindu-minded persons versus strong anti-Hindu persons. For example, during the debate on the arrest of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi NDTV on its programme ‘The X factor’ at 10 PM at night invited Swapan Dasgupta and Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natrajan. Now Jayanthi Natrajan is from Tamil Nadu and she spoke against the Shankaracharya. She is a spokesperson of the Congress Party. So logically, there should have been a BJP spokesperson to counter her. But NDTV deliberately put a weak Swapan Dasgupta against her. No matter what he says, Swapan Dasgupta is not the spokesman of the BJP, and he cannot be. To weaken the Hindu case, deliberately a weak participant was invited since Dasgupta is not a strong Hindu-minded person, though sympathetic to the BJP.

         Another pathetic example was a debate on NDTV Hindi’s weekly programme ‘Public Platform’ which was the combination of everything that NDTV does. There were Satyavrata Chaturvedi of the Congress, Chandan Mitra, senior journalist and Editor of ‘The Pioneer’, JNU’s staunch Communist Purushottam Agrawal and The Hindustan Times’ Editor Vinod Sharma, in July 2004. Except Chandan Mitra, all 4 other participants were horribly anti-BJP. (The anchor Abhigyan Prakash was also anti-BJP). Deliberately, sentences like ‘Now what will happen to the Ram Temple issue’ were put on TV screens by NDTV and the BJP was duly attacked for its Ayodhya stand with Satyavrata Chaturvedi of the Congress saying that the BJP’s aim was never to build any temple but only to get the votes. And it was a case of 4 ¼ versus ¾, since Chandan Mitra can be considered as a politically non-committed person. (as of August 2004, now he has joined the BJP).Chandan Mitra was repeatedly asked about the role of the BJP in the Ram Mandir issue and the party’s stand. He finally said, “If there was a BJP man here, it would have been easy to understand the party’s stand.”

           Look at the weak participants. SAB TV had a programme called ‘Khula Manch’ every Friday night and Sunday afternoon. That channel rightly invited the right people. The channel invited two journalists- ‘The Pioneer’s Editor Chandan Mitra and Editor of ‘Outlook’ (Hindi) Alok Mehta. This was in December 2003 after the BJP’s win in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The anchor asked Alok Mehta,

          “When it comes to M F Hussain painting a nude picture of Goddess Saraswati, Left parties call it freedom of expression. Now Taslima Nasreen’s book “Dwikhandito” has been banned by the Left Government in West Bengal just like in Bangladesh. The low GDP growth rate is called the ‘Hindu rate of growth’ despite socialist economy. And in Gujarat, the only state where there is a Hindu-minded government; there is double-digit GDP growth rate. What then about the ‘Hindu rate of growth’?”
           Alok Mehta replied,
          “See, I am not the spokesman of these Left parties. And as for the ‘Hindu rate of growth’ I do not consider it as appropriate. I cannot be asked the Left parties’ stand.”
          Similarly, in that programme Chandan Mitra also could not explain the BJP’s stand.
           But Chandan Mitra was asked the BJP’s stand on the Ram Mandir issue on NDTV in July 2004 as if he was the official spokesman of the BJP. He said, as mentioned above, that if there was someone from the BJP it would have been much easier to understand the party’s stand. He should have said, just like Alok Mehta,
         “See, I am not the BJP’s spokesman. If you have invited a Congress spokesman in Satyavrata Chaturvedi, then you should have invited someone from the BJP. I am not going to and I cannot clarify the party’s stand. I am a journalist.” 

             NDTV did the same again in the same month (July 2004) when they invited Anand Sharma of the Congress, Digvijay Singh of the JD(U), a CPM man and as an ‘independent’ voice, Yogendra Yadav, who is a staunch anti-BJP man. They talked of the Gujarat riots abusing Narendra Modi and equated them with the 1984 riots. Now, Digvijay Singh of the JD(U) was just as anti-Narendra Modi as the Congress and NDTV knew it and hence deliberately invited him so that Modi would be abused. And hence, Narendra Modi was not defended at all, and was soundly trashed by all 5 participants including the anchor.

            Another point that should be noted is that whenever TV debates go on, NDTV puts rhetorical questions on the screen. The participants in the debates do not know when the debate is being recorded what sentences will be put on TV screens when the debate is broadcast. For example, in October 2003 NDTV had the debate on Ayodhya in both Hindi and English with the question posted on the TV screen, “Do people really care about Ayodhya?” Now, reading it the meaning conveyed is, “People do not care about Ayodhya.” As for NDTV’s  ‘weak vs. strong’ policy, on the Ayodhya debate in October 2003 there were invited Tarun Vijay, Editor of weekly ‘Panchjanya’ (Hindi weekly of the RSS) for the Hindu stand, and Babri Masjid Action Committee’s Syed Shahabuddin. Now with a religious leader like Shahabuddin, there should have been someone from the Hindu religious body, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), to argue the debate for the Hindu side, since the RSS is a cultural body and has not had any role whatsoever in the Ayodhya issue. The same was also done in English by the same channel when it invited the Editor of weekly ‘Organiser’ Seshadri Chari. SAB TV, the neutral channel, always invites the right people. For Ayodhya, it invited VHP’s All India Secretary Dr Surendra Jain who brought a Muslim like Aziz Burney (Editor of ‘Urdu Sahara) to his knees on the Ayodhya debate. But NDTV never invites VHP leaders like Dr. Jain because it knows exactly that VHP leaders argue well and are aggressive and take a much hard-line stand. And hence NDTV deliberately invites weak people like Tarun Vijay and Seshadri Chari, both of whom are simple and not cunning at all.  And NDTV keeps placing rhetorical questions like “Is Ayodhya really relevant?” or “Should we waste our time debating Ayodhya?” etc etc to malign the Hindu cause.

               NDTV does it all the times. Another point to be noted here is that TV debates are always designed to provoke Hindu-minded people. The debate between Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Abhishek Singhvi and Asghar Ali Engineer on NDTV in April 2004 mentioned earlier is a good example of this. The debate was whether the Congress government of Maharashtra targets Muslims or not. It is very difficult for the BJP participant to say, “What Muslim targeting? It is the Muslims who target all others in all states including BJP ruled states because they always start riots.” The Savarkar debate was also designed like this.

             The points mentioned above are only the case of TV debates. TV channels, especially NDTV, also function in various other ways. NDTV English reported in August 2005  “BJP turns MP saffron”. The local NDTV correspondent slammed the BJP for this. Of the many ways of attacking BJP, the correspondent’s reporting is another way. The NDTV correspondent in the above case reported a lot of decisions taken by the BJP government and accused it of turning Madhya Pradesh saffron by making ‘communal’ policies. As another case, when the UPA Government revoked the POTA law in 2004, Hindi NDTV asked its correspondent to report the matter. The correspondent reported the repeal of the law and then talked of targeting of Muslims because of it and said at last, “Looking at the present scenario, the decision of the Government to repeal POTA seems correct.”

            Thus the TV channels’ correspondents also speak anti-BJP. As for other things, CPM TODAY (or NDTV as it calls itself) invited, the day the POTA law was repealed, at 8-30 PM in its programme ‘Khabron ki Khabar’ in Hindi Brinda Karat, (who runs NDTV) and the Law Minister Hansraj Bharadwaj. The CPM (which is anti-everything) had the cause that another strict law replaced POTA. The new law also was too strict which the UPA government had brought in.  And this time, NDTV did not even invite anyone from the BJP to argue in favour of POTA law. They should have done not only that but also invited someone from the VHP who would say that POTA is also soft and a law stricter than POTA is needed, since other nations like US and UK have even stricter anti-terror laws, if they could invite someone from the CPM who would say that the replaced law is also strict. And among other things, NDTV’s Vinod Dua asked Brinda Karat why the Opposition was then protesting, and she replied, “They have still not been reconciled to the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections” and attacked the BJP and there was no one from the BJP to even defend it.

             NDTV while reporting the Lok Sabha polls of 2004 reported on Bihar that, “RJD has the electoral planks of secularism and Bihari pride.” Pray good NDTV. How can either be poll planks? The only poll plank of the RJD is casteism. Winning through casteism (and also communalism, getting en bloc Muslim votes) and through election rigging is the only way RJD wins elections. But to sink to such levels to defend the RJD is something only NDTV can do, not even other TV channels like Aaj Tak or Star News sunk to such levels.
             As we saw earlier, maligning Hindu leaders for ‘bad’ language and letting Congress leaders go scot-free on the issue, on which they are 100 times guiltier than the BJP, is another plank of NDTV. The false and concocted opinion poll on Gujarat is another thing. But among others is its style of options in its questions. Look at what Hindi NDTV did in ‘Khabron ki Khabar’ on 22 May 2005. NDTV invited Congress’ Pawan Kumar Bansal and the BJP’s Vijay Kumar Malhotra was on the phone line and they also invited ‘Panchjanya’ Editor Tarun Vijay. The debate was on the NDA’s boycott of Parliament. They deliberately invited Tarun Vijay since they thought that he would speak against Parliament boycott of the BJP and make it 3 against 1 once again, i.e. the anchor Vinod Dua, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Tarun Vijay all against Vijay Kumar Malhotra who was on the phone and not in person. That Tarun Vijay argued in favour of the Parliament boycott is another thing, and that still both V.K.Malhotra and Tarun Vijay lost that debate is a further different thing.

             What NDTV could not have forgotten in May 2005 was that the Nanavati Commission report on the 1984 riots submitted to the Home Minister Shivraj Patil on 9 Feb 2005 was hidden by the UPA government and not released, something which both Tarun Vijay and V.K.Malhotra did not say to corner Pawan Kumar Bansal. They should have dared the UPA to release the report and said “Release the report, we will take back our boycott.” But the simple BJP people and the cunning NDTV men let the UPA eat the cake and have it too. They allowed UPA to hide the report and earn brownie points for the NDA’s boycott with both the media and the BJP leaders failing to point out how the Congress MPs in the 13th Lok Sabha behaved in the Opposition.  The same Congress leaders and MPs stalled Parliament by forcing repeated adjournments on the flimsiest of pretexts and boycotted George Fernandes for nearly two years in Parliament, and instead of being targeted for it, they got scot-free and instead made the NDA take a beating for its boycott of Parliament despite the UPA hiding the Nanavati Commission report on the 1984 riots.

             NDTV also concocted lies that the Nanavati Commission report has acquitted the Congress as a party, but has found evidence against Sajjan Kumar, in February 2005. Justice Nanavati said in an interview that he hadn’t absolved the Congress at all and that NDTV’s reporting was ‘guesswork’.

             Now among the NDTV’s methods, another is the choice of options. The same day on the same programme NDTV asked the question:
“Now what should the NDA do?” Options given were:
(a) Continue boycott
(b) Apologize and withdraw boycott
(c) NDA boycotting or not makes no difference.

            Now, people are generally prone to say, “Take back boycott”. And hence NDTV added, “Apologize” and withdraw boycott. Why apologize? For what cause? And to whom? But because of this designing of question and answers, 19% people said ‘a’, 48% people said, ‘b’ and 33% people said, ‘c’.

            The right question from a neutral point of view would have been- “Is NDA’s boycott justified?” And options should have been –(a) Yes (b) No or (c) Can’t say. But the manner of framing the questions and answers was deliberately to hurt the NDA and hurt it did.

            To make the point even clearer, after the US recognized (?) India as a nuclear state in July 2005, NDTV which is horribly anti-US being the mouthpiece of the CPM, said in the same programme ‘Khabron ki Khabar’, “Now that the US has recognized India as a nuclear power, what should be India’s stand?” Options given were-
(a) Thank you very much, great favor (Bohot shukriya, badi meherbani
(b) We don’t need the US’ certificate
(c) US recognizing or not makes no difference

      Now this again makes people vote NDTV’s way. Because of the term “Badi meherbani” (great favor) people generally avoided option a). And both options b) and c) were of the Communists. And as a result, results were
(a) 8 %
     (b) 48 %
     (c) 44%
          And with this foreign policy of the CPI(M) India will be doomed even   more. The Communists’ policy of non-alignment is also wrong. Instead it should be all-alignment. But if a state like the US recognizes India as a nuclear state, should we not even thank that state? Should we say, “We don’t need your certificate”? But again, the adroit Marxists got away with their horribly anti-US stance because of their cunning strategy.

            The same continues even today. After the recent Vadodara riots in May 2006, the same programme once again cast options which were all anti-BJP. The options made it sound as if Muslims were butchered in Vadodara. And in December 2007, they had a question in Khabron ki khabar before the Assembly polls in Gujarat, where their enemy No 1 was on the field: "Modi ke raj mein Gujarat ka vikas kitna hua hein? " (How far has Gujarat's development gone under Narendra Modi?). And the options were:
1- Sirf shaharo tak (Only till cities)
2- Sirf amiron tak (Only till rich people)
3- Sirf kagaj par (Only on paper)
         What sets of options! This is like asking- "What is NDTV?
1-Channel of looters
2-Channel of criminals
3-Channel of rapists"

                 The option "Gujarat has progressed everywhere, in urban as well as rural areas, to rich as well as poor people, to all sections of the society" wasn't even there. What to comment on it...

They did the same after the victory of the NDA i.e. the BJP-JD(U) alliance in Bihar in November 2005.  The options were all anti-NDA and made it sound as if the NDA survived because of that win, otherwise it would have disintegrated. 

             The media and all TV channels did the same thing even after the release of the film ‘Fanaa’. The truth is that no film was ever banned by the Gujarat Government. The theatre owners themselves closed the theatres because of public anger against Aamir Khan. But NDTV kept attacking BJP and raising questions like- "Aamir Khan or BJP, who do you support?" as if the BJP has banned the film ‘Fanaa’. The film that was actually banned was ‘Da Vinci Code’ that was banned in Congress-ruled Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and the DMK-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu, despite being cleared by the Censor Board, possibly on the orders of Roman Catholic Super Prime Minister Sonia Gandhi, but NDTV and CNN-INN (Rajdeep Sardesai’s channel) were not livid because of that. As for the film ‘Fanaa’, CNN-IBN of Rajdeep Sardesai wrote on TV screens –‘The Fanaatics’ i.e. that channel called the BJP a party of fanatics for ‘banning’ the film ‘Fanaa’ starring Aamir Khan. The truth is completely different. The Congress’ own Gujarat unit also protested over ‘Fanaa’. It is just that the people were against it and hence the theatre owners decided against screening of the film. And as for Aamir Khan, the TV channels only showed repeatedly one of his statements in which he asked for rehabilitation of project-affected families. Aamir Khan also sat on the dharna of Medha Patkar and supported the Narmada Bachao Andolan, which went to courts for stalling the increase in height of the dam. The weak-kneed UPA government of the Congress also bowed to this demand and its Minister Saifuddin Soz declared stalling of the project. It is only when the Gujarat unit of the Congress itself put tremendous pressure on the Prime Minister that the UPA reversed its decision of stalling the dam project.

              It is much more difficult for people to argue in a debate from phone or even videophone. And hence NDTV often invites BJP leaders from phone and Congress leaders in person as was seen in the debate where Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP was invited through phone to take on Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress.

             NDTV also has a programme, “We’ve got mail.” Before the Lok Sabha 2004 polls a reader wrote, “Your bold stand against communalism deserves to be congratulated.” This was duly reported by NDTV. NDTV had no bold stand against communalism. It had a bold stand against the BJP. Prior to the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress, to get a firm hold over the Muslim vote bank, included Syed Shahabuddin in the party. What secularism is the Congress talking of if it has Syed Shahabuddin in the party? But none of the TV channels like NDTV, or newspapers found it worth criticizing the Congress for this. 

            NDTV functions carefully as pointed out earlier. After the horrible, horrific, mind numbing Godhra incident, in which 58 people were killed then and 1 later to make it 59, of whom 25 are women and 15 children, all the TV channels defended and justified the attack and insulted the dead Ramsevaks. Vir Sanghvi, a staunch anti-BJP man, and Chief Editor of ‘The Hindustan Times’ at that time wrote in his newspaper criticizing the pseudo-secularists reaction to Godhra and condemning them for justifying and defending the incident. He wrote an article entitled “One Way Ticket” in The Hindustan Times on 28th February, 2002. He must have written it on 27th February itself, the day of the massacre in Godhra. This is the full text of his article:

   “There is something profoundly worrying in the response of what might be called the secular establishment to the massacre in Godhra. Though there is some dispute over the details, we now know what happened on the railway track. A mob of 2,000 people stopped the Sabarmati Express shortly after it pulled out of Godhra station. The train contained several bogeys full of kar sewaks who were on their way back to Ahmedabad after participating in the Poorna Ahuti Yagya at Ayodhya. The mob attacked the train with petrol and acid bombs. According to some witnesses, explosives were also used. Four bogies were gutted and at least 57 people, including over a dozen children, were burnt alive.
   Some versions have it that the kar sewaks shouted anti-Muslim slogans; others that they taunted and harassed Muslim passengers. According to these versions, the Muslim passengers got off at Godhra and appealed to members of their community for help. Others say that the slogans were enough to enrage the local Muslims and that the attack was revenge.
   It will be some time before we can establish the veracity of these versions, but some things seem clear. There is no suggestion that the kar sewaks started the violence. The worst that has been said is that they misbehaved with a few passengers. Equally, it does seem extraordinary that slogans shouted from a moving train or at a railway platform should have been enough to enrage local Muslims, enough for 2,000 of them to have quickly assembled at eight in the morning, having already managed to procure petrol bombs and acid bombs.
   Even if you dispute the version of some of the kar sewaks – that the attack was premeditated and that the mob was ready and waiting - there can be no denying that what happened was indefensible, unforgivable and impossible to explain away as a consequence of great provocation.
   And yet, this is precisely how the secular establishment has reacted.
   Nearly every non-BJP leader who appeared on TV on Wednesday and almost all of the media have treated the massacre as a response to the Ayodhya movement. This is fair enough in so far as the victims were kar   sewaks.
   But almost nobody has bothered to make the obvious follow-up point: this was not something the kar sewaks brought on themselves. If a trainload of VHP volunteers had been attacked while returning after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, this would still have been wrong, but at least one could have understood the provocation.
    This time, however, there has been no real provocation at all. It is possible that the VHP may defy the government and the courts and go ahead with the temple construction eventually. But, as of now, this has not happened. Nor has there been any real confrontation at Ayodhya – as yet.
And yet, the sub-text to all secular commentary is the same: the kar sewaks had it coming to them.
   Basically, they condemn the crime; but blame the victims.
   Try and take the incident out of the secular construct that we, in India, have perfected and see how bizarre such an attitude sounds in other contexts. Did we say that New York had it coming when the Twin Towers were attacked last year? Then too, there was enormous resentment among fundamentalist Muslims about America’s policies, but we didn’t even consider whether this resentment was justified or not.
   Instead we took the line that all sensible people must take: any massacre is bad and deserves to be condemned.
   When Graham Staines and his children were burnt alive, did we say that Christian missionaries had made themselves unpopular by engaging in conversion and so, they had it coming? No, of course, we didn’t.
   Why then are these poor kar sewaks an exception? Why have we de-humanised them to the extent that we don’t even see the incident as the human tragedy that it undoubtedly was and treat it as just another consequence of the VHP’s fundamentalist policies?
   The answer, I suspect, is that we are programmed to see Hindu-Muslim relations in simplistic terms: Hindus provoke, Muslims suffer.
   When this formula does not work- it is clear now that a well-armed Muslim mob murdered unarmed Hindus – we simply do not know how to cope. We shy away from the truth – that some Muslims committed an act that is indefensible – and resort to blaming the victims.
   Of course, there are always ‘rational reasons’ offered for this stand. Muslims are in a minority and therefore, they deserve special consideration. Muslims already face discrimination so why make it harder for them? If you report the truth then you will inflame Hindu sentiments and this would be irresponsible. And so on. I know the arguments well because – like most journalists – I have used them myself. And I still argue that they are often valid and necessary.
   But there comes a time when this kind of rigidly ‘secularist’ construct not only goes too far; it also becomes counter-productive. When everybody can see that a trainload of Hindus was massacred by a Muslim mob, you gain nothing by blaming the murders on the VHP or arguing that the dead men and women had it coming to them.
   Not only does this insult the dead (What about the children? Did they also have it coming?), but it also insults the intelligence of the reader. Even moderate Hindus, of the sort that loathe the VHP, are appalled by the stories that are now coming out of Gujarat: stories with uncomfortable reminders of 1947 with details about how the bogies were first locked from outside and then set on fire and how the women’s compartment suffered the most damage.
   Any media – indeed, any secular establishment – that fails to take into account the genuine concerns of people risks losing its own credibility. Something like that happened in the mid-Eighties when an aggressive hard secularism on the part of the press and government led even moderate Hindus to believe that they had become second class citizens in their own country. It was this Hindu backlash that brought the Ayodhya movement – till then a fringe activity – to the forefront and fuelled the rise of L.K. Advani’s BJP.
   My fear is that something similar will happen once again. The VHP will ask the obvious question of Hindus: why is it a tragedy when Staines is burnt alive and merely an ‘inevitable political development’ when the same fate befalls 57 kar sewaks?
   Because, as secularists, we can provide no good answer, it is the VHP’s responses that will be believed. Once again, Hindus will believe that their suffering is of no consequence and will be tempted to see the building of a temple at Ayodhya as an expression of Hindu pride in the face of secular indifference.
   But even if this were not to happen, even if there was no danger of a Hindu backlash, I still think that the secular establishment should pause for thought.
   There is one question we need to ask ourselves: have we become such prisoners of our own rhetoric that even a horrific massacre becomes nothing more than occasion for Sangh Parivar-bashing?

   Today it can be read at:
   At that time (in Feb 2002) NDTV-Star News had collaboration. NDTV reported Godhra as if it was an accident. NDTV said, “At least 57 feared killed and 43 injured as Sabarmati Express set on fire.” Months later, when in July 2004, Railway Minister Lalu Yadav announced a committee to probe into the incident, NDTV Hindi reported again as if it was an accident,
              “The Banerjee Commission has been constituted to probe the reason of the Sabarmati Express catching fire…” as if that is a great mystery. My dear NDTV, the fire was caused due to Muslims setting it!

               NDTV and for that matter all other channels have also tried to spread casteism in the Hindu society and that too blatantly deliberately. But deliberately concocting lies for separating Dalits from the Hindu mainstream is unpardonable and has been deliberately done by NDTV- CPM TODAY for further weakening the Hindu society. Five Dalits were killed in Jhajhar, Haryana on 15 October 2002. This was given due publicity by the media and especially NDTV. But the truth is that the attack had nothing to do with caste. The local police chief who was a Muslim told NDTV this, “There was a feeling among the villagers that Muslims are killing cows. Mistaking the killers as Muslims, the villagers lynched them. Among the attackers were many Dalits themselves.

            The killings had absolutely nothing to do with caste. Yet the entire media and especially NDTV made it sound as if they were caste-based, deliberately done to kill Dalits by upper castes. Maybe this was with the Gujarat Assembly polls in mind, since they wanted to divide the Hindu society and separate Dalits so that they would vote for the Congress and not the BJP. But finally, families of the killed people embraced Islam, Buddhism. This happened completely because of the TV channels. Nobody objects to due publicity to casteism and atrocities on Dalits, Muslims and Hindus also. But why spread lies?

              Among another ploy of NDTV, here is what it reported after Zaheera Sheikh changed her stance on 3 November 2004. Zaheera had until then been holding Teesta Setalavad innocent and riot accused guilty, from July 2003 till then. She had initially said in the courts on 17 May 2003 said that all accused are innocent and they helped her during the riots while the real attackers have disappeared. Then, from 7 July 2003 she changed her stand and held all accused guilty and alleged that she was forced to call them innocent in court because of fear. And then on 3 Nov 2004 she said that her original statement in the court on 17 May 2003 was correct, that all riot accused are innocent and that the real culprits have disappeared. She also said that she was forced to name innocent persons as guilty under fear. NDTV Hindi while reporting said on 4 Nov 2004, 

             “Now we can’t say whether she changed her statement under fear or because of greed of money.”
             So both ways she was lying, wasn’t she? And fear or money means indirect reference to the BJP. Gujarat BJP threatened her or bribed her, isn’t that what NDTV said without directly saying it? This is how NDTV functions and is not directly anti-BJP like other mouthpieces. The thought that she was telling the truth and that all accused may be innocent does not occur to NDTV at all. And all other channels are also the same in their reporting. 

              As another of NDTV’s ploy, they invite only one person and no one to counter him when they want to spread that person’s ideology. After this statement of Zaheera, NDTV Hindi on Nov 4 2004 interviewed ex-Gujarat Congress chief and Union Textiles Minister S.S.Vaghela alone and asked him his stance on the issue. This interview they showed repeatedly throughout the day in their news bulletin. That is, Vaghela’s attacks on the BJP were shown, and his allegations that the BJP bribed or threatened her were shown, while the BJP’s objections were not shown at all and hence only one thing was conveyed to the viewers. 

             To further the point, let us look at NDTV’s coverage after the release of the 2001 Census report in September 2004 which reported that the Muslim population was growing at 36% as against 20% growth rate of the Hindu population and as a result, by 2061 Hindus would become a minority in India. NDTV then invited two pseudo-secularist ‘psephologists’ and ‘experts’ on the issue explaining the ‘real story’. Finally at the last Rajdeep Sardesai said, “So there is no danger of India becoming a Muslim-majority state by 2061?” “No” came the strong reply from the other person. Now here there was no one from the Sangh Parivar or from any other organization with a Hindu mind to counter this charge. The truth is something else. That was no expert but a deliberate design of NDTV to spread canards. Deliberately, Rajdeep asked the pre-planned question to get a firm “No” as an answer. There was absolutely no one from the opposite camp (VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena) to explain the danger of India becoming an Islamic state by 2061. NDTV’s and pseudo-secularists’ agenda was displayed indirectly through that interview.

               Thus, as mentioned earlier, to spread its agenda, NDTV invites only one person and none from the opposite camp. I have never seen only a BJP man or a VHP man being invited alone in any programme except ‘Takkar’ (NDTV Hindi). In April 2004 at 10 pm on ‘The X factor’ English NDTV invited Amar Singh, national general secretary of the Samajwadi Party and no one else. NDTV wanted to paint the Samajwadi as a true party of Muslims and anti-BJP to the core. Rajdeep Sardesai made feeble allegations on him and it was clear that his aim was to malign the BJP and help the SP. Amar Singh blasted the BJP and rubbished the BJP’s charges and the debate was held with no BJP man there at all. Rajdeep did make a feeble attempt to question Amar Singh with the allegation that the SP also supported Kalyan Singh who was the BJP’s Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished but not strong enough. The debate whether SP-BJP had an alliance was going on with the SP rubbishing the charge and maligning the BJP.

          Similarly, the Governor of Bihar, Justice (retd) M Rama Jois in his republic day speech in Patna said on 26 January 2004 that, “Law and order situation in the state is bad. People from other states are afraid to send their children here. Situation needs to be changed.” RJD chief Lalu Yadav alleged that this was a BJP conspiracy to malign the state but the truth is different. The truth was that the RJD government had made no speech for the Governor by 25th night to be read out for the 26th and hence the Governor had to make his own speech. This was clarified by Raj Bhavan, Bihar in a letter of clarification to weekly ‘Organiser’. But the entire media including NDTV, ‘Aaj Tak’ and Star News were on Lalu Yadav’s side. NDTV Hindi while reporting the matter backed RJD chief Lalu Yadav and said at the last, “This Governor has also been the VHP’s lawyer earlier.” On the debate over this issue all channels simply invited the RJD chief Lalu Yadav from Patna through videophone. And thus they gave him the chance to talk all he wanted and put forward only his position and allowed the Governor to be blasted. This, they did not do themselves but allowed Lalu to do unrestricted. They did not invite anyone from the BJP or the NDA, not even NDA allies like the JD(U) to defend the Governor. They did not even interview the Governor separately to give him a chance to put forward his stand or clarification. Luckily, Raj Bhavan, Bihar clarified in a letter to weekly ‘Organiser’, which I read. The TV channels simply did not give any chance to the BJP-NDA (or the Governor) to defend the Governor. And this mischief of the TV channels also was not noticed. This is what all of them do even today without any exception.

              In Feb 2004, there was a crisis in the NCP with senior party leader and General Secretary and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma revolting. Both NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Sangma ‘expelled’ each other from the party. And the fight over the symbol and flag of the NCP went to the Election Commission. Star News wanted the EC to side with Sharad Pawar. And hence it reported that several shops in Pune had made flags and symbols of NCP worth lakhs of rupees which would go waste if the EC sided with Sangma. They also interviewed shop owners who said that they wanted the EC to side with Pawar so that they would not suffer losses. Thus Star News got public support for Sharad Pawar. Perhaps it forgot that there would be many such shop owners in Meghalaya and Manipur (where Sangma is very popular) who would want the EC to side with Sangma.

           There are as many as 2 crore illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in India. Assam has a large number of them and is in danger of becoming a Muslim-majority state by 2020.  The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, appointed by the Congress, T V Rajeshwar had said in 1996 that: "There is a danger of a thirs Islamic state (after Pakistan and Bangaldesh) being formed from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam's areas. The Muslim population is increasingly alarmingly in these areas". But the Marxist NDTV is of course not in favor of deporting the Bangladeshi Muslims back to Bangladesh and wants them to be given Indian citizenship and allowed to roam India. Hence it reported in April 2006, about 10 days before the elections in Assam about the ‘migrants’ in Assam. (Mind the word migrants and not infiltrators) Its report reported the ‘problems’ faced by the migrants. NDTV showed videos of ‘poor’, ‘half starved’ Bangladeshis who said on camera that politicians never help them but only want their votes. NDTV reported as if they are oppressed people deserving shelter in India. NDTV did not see the ‘condition’ of other Bangladeshis in Assam who are far better than the locals. It made it sound as if all Bangladeshis are half starved and poor. And of course NDTV forgot the statement of the Governor of Uttar Pradesh on the danger of rising Muslim population in these areas- particularly West Bengal and Assam.

          There are about 4 lakh Kashmiri Hindus who have been forced out of Kashmir and have to live as refugees in Delhi and Jammu and in the most pitiable conditions. NDTV duly bothered about the Muslim refugees of Gujarat in 2002 living in refugee camps. That there were 40,000 Hindus along with 1 lakh Muslims also living in refugee camps in Gujarat in 2002 driven out of their homes by Muslims is another thing, and that it was totally suppressed by NDTV is a further another thing.  Many Kashmiri Hindus who lived like kings in Kashmir live in the most pitiable conditions in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. But in 2003, NDTV did a story on a Kashmiri woman, who was living in Delhi. According to NDTV, “She is earning 10 times more than she did in Kashmir. But she would still prefer Kashmir.” NDTV reported as if all the 4 lakh Hindus of Kashmir live as kings in Jammu and Delhi and in Kashmir they live mediocre lives. Watching that report, no one would feel any sympathy for the Kashmiri Hindus and feel that they are far better off in Delhi and are unjust in demanding homes back in Kashmir. NDTV never bothered to report the pathetic state in which the refugees live in the camps. The kings have become paupers. But that does not bother NDTV. Our former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or alleged Super Prime Minister Sonia Gandhi also never visit or visited the refugee camps of Kashmiri Hindus.

           In December 2005 the CD of BJP general secretary (Organisation) and an RSS pracharak Sanjay Joshi, showing him in poor light was circulated. At the news channels of course declared him guilty and held the RSS guilty too. ‘The Times of India’ also wrote an editorial dated 27 December 2005 in which it said, “RSS claims of morality hollow” and held Sanjay Joshi guilty. Alok Tiwari, a staunch anti-RSS anti-BJP man wrote in his weekly column in ‘The Hitavada’ in February 2006,
          “ The media is not harsh enough on the RSS… The media has not abused the RSS despite swayamsevaks caught on camera indulging in immoral acts.” And held Sanjay Joshi guilty in the matter and the less said of TV channels the better.

           And what did these people do when Sanjay Joshi was clean chit? A TV channel, India TV, still tried to hold him guilty even after the forensic lab report of Hyderabad clearly stating that the man in the CD is not Sanjay Joshi and that the CD is not genuine. It reported, “The Madhya Pradesh police have given him a clean chit under pressure from the Madhya Pradesh government which is of the BJP…” ignoring the forensic lab report completely. ‘The Times of Indiaand Alok Tiwari did not write apologizing for holding Sanjay Joshi guilty earlier either!

            ‘Aaj Tak’ also reported before the Lok Sabha 2004 polls in its news strip that, “Tamil actor Rajnikanth will not support any party in the coming Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu” when he clearly declared support to the AIADMK-BJP combine and said that he was impressed with the Prime Minister’s plans to link the rivers of the country. Perhaps, ‘Aaj Tak’ feared that true reporting would result in gain for the AIADMK-BJP combine since he had a large fan club, and they would all follow him in voting for the BJP-AIADMK. ‘Aaj Tak’ forgot that the people of Tamil Nadu have the Tamil media to fall back on.

             What other possible explanation could there be for ‘Aaj Tak’ lying through its teeth and claiming that he would not support any party when he declared his support to the BJP-AIADMK?
(First written in June 2006, some additions made later to include later events)

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