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[act] INDIA: Muslims & Media: Looking beyond Kargil

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    [South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch July 1, 1999] =============================== Media and Muslims : Looking Beyond Kargil By V.B.Rawat Muslims seems to be
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 1999
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      [South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch
      July 1, 1999]
      ===============================

      Media and Muslims : Looking Beyond Kargil
      By V.B.Rawat

      Muslims seems to be the target of the latest defamation campaign running
      in the vernacular Indian media specially in Hindi in the post Kargil
      scenario. Apart from the reports of battle front, the coverage of local
      super patriots has become the hall-mark of the media. From village to
      the capital of the country, there is a sympathy for the Jawan who
      normally never get his due in the peace time. Problem does not end here,
      the reports of Puja, prayers, Gayatri Mantras for the soldiers and
      Indian army continue to pour in and those who do not join them or
      support them are being termed as treacherous.

      In Delhi, the Muslim community has been outstanding in their rejection
      of the misadventure of Pakistan’s elite army. Photographs of Muslims
      protesting infront of Pakistan embassy and news about their anger over
      Pakistan stabbing on the back of ‘peace-loving’ Indian are also part of
      the news. This is good that Muslims have also started in the rhetoric of
      Sangh Parivar who want to give certificate to every community on the
      basis of their patriotism. After defeating Pakistan in the world-cup
      this patriotism was more than visible in the Hindi media where editors
      wrote hosannas to Indian team. " Unhone Pakistan ki Moochen marod di,
      wrote an editor who went to England to specially cover the world cup for
      his paper. His continuous venomous writing ensured a complete
      communalisation of the news items. Pakistan ki hekari nikalo, he wrote.
      Pakistani think sport ground is like battle ground so we must put them
      to mat every time we meet, suggested the editor.


      It is true that cricket matches between India and Pakistan have never
      brought the people together. Infact, they have raised the tensions
      between the two countries. Even those, who have never seen cricket or
      played cricket become interested in it. Both the countries do not want
      to loose each other. Whether it is Lahore or Calcutta, the local people
      cannot see their team defeated. While the game at Chennai was an
      exception, the win of Pakistan is termed as a Islamic superiority over
      Hindu India while defeat of Pakistan enlighten the heart of every
      Indian, particularly, those with saffron bend of mind. This become time
      for regain their Hindu pride. Pakistan must be defeated at all cost.
      Pakistan means Muslims and they need to be put down every time. Hence
      such rhetorical games do not serve the purpose except the money both the
      boards are making in billions. In the Old-Trafford, Manchester, after
      India’s defeated Pakistan, some of the Pakistan supporters burnt the
      Indian tri-colour at the ground. Now, was this match played in the
      sporting spirit. India and Pakistan cannot play matches in sporting
      spirit. Moreover, there is always a suspicion over the patriotism of
      Muslims which Sangh parivar always politicised that they never supports
      India.

      In these days, when national sentiments are being exploited from local
      politicians to top level ones, the Indian media in general and Hindi
      media in particular has not lagged behind. It has been covering such
      stories which reminds us the notorious role it played during the Ayodhya
      crisis in 1990 and 1992. One of the feature in the stories is the
      involvement of ISI. Every one of us know that ISI is a Pakistan’s
      intelligence agency whose task is to create problems in India but how
      can the entire Muslim class be held responsible for this. Apart from
      other things the reports suggests that the ISI is very effective in the
      areas where Muslim population is very high. The reporters are alarmed at
      the increasing population of Muslims in the Indo-Nepalese border. They
      are opening Madarasas and mosques which are the easiest target of ISI,
      says the reports. Now the problem is that if Muslim do not send their
      children to madaras where should they send, because I have travelled a
      large part of UP and spoken to Muslims who openly said that their
      children are not given admissions in the government schools even where
      they are in a majority like Moradabad and Meerut. In such a scenario,
      the Madarasas have played a very important role. It is obvious these
      reports does not have direct information and everything is based on the
      reports given by the intelligence, who we all know have completely
      failed and have been badly politicised. There are other reports like, a
      well known Muslim religious saint Ali Miyan refused to pray for Indian
      Soldiers. The reporter said that it was suggested to Ali Miyan to pray
      for the Jawans fighting in the border but he refused and said that he
      might issue an appeal to end the battle as the earliest. Now what is
      wrong with this if some people are praying to end the battle at the
      earliest. But this Brahmin reporter term this as anti-Indian and
      fundamentalist. Any one talking for peace is anti national as if
      nationalism is just the monopoly of a few ruling Hindu elite. It is not
      that entire Indian masses want a war. Actually a war hysteria has been
      created and perhaps in the hope that it will fetch votes to Atal Bihari
      Vajpayee and the party. The current situation is very grim. Our media
      and specially the vernacular media including the government sponsored
      electronic media is more than eager to fight a lasting war with
      Pakistan, who they think have harmed the interests of India. Regular
      dead bodies of soldiers are being shown and the TV reporters speaking
      with the relatives of the martyrs are being shown as a mark of ‘respect’
      for the soldiers. We are told that the widow of the soldiers want to
      fight for the country and she is proud of her husbands. Mothers are
      proud of their sons. Similar things are happening on the other side of
      the border.

      One need not to go in detail whether Pakistan is a failed state or rouge
      state but unlike India which is an open society, Pakistan remains
      captive to the military, religious and feudal powers. It is not
      surprising therefore that Pakistan is the largest feudal state in the
      world which has rarely exercised democratic norms without getting
      sanctions from the army. Even those who were in the forefront of
      Pakistan movement are today foreigner. And not only the streets of
      Karachi but the slums of Dhaka can clearly demonstrate Pakistani
      aversion towards the Urdu speaking people who are contemptuously termed
      as Mohazirs. Pakistan refugees to take back the Urdu speaking living in
      the refugee camps in Bangladesh. During a visit to Dhaka around a year
      and half ago, I happened to visit some of these camps where most of the
      artisan working, still have love and affection for Urdu and referred to
      them as Indian and not as Pakistani and wanted to go back to Darbhanga
      and other places of Bihar which is their original place.

      Secondly, India and Pakistan will have to sit quietly and openly the
      issues infront of them and include the people of both the countries.
      Because it is not sure that India and Pakistan will keep quiet after
      Kashmir issue is solved. One need to ponder over these issues. There is
      dire need to strengthen the people to people contact at South Asia.
      There is no way for either Indian or Pakistan or any other south Asian
      citizen to get informed and enlightened about what is happening in these
      countries as they only get chauvinistic news in their news-papers. They
      cannot write letters to editor which if they ever try will be
      scrutinised and might be thrown away by the government agencies wanting
      to bulldoze a people’s movement in South Asia. They can only listen and
      view the government channels and other satellites channel from the
      western world which are interested to play ‘umpire’ in this entire game.
      More and more interaction between the south Asian citizens would force
      the political leadership to follow the wish of the people.
      Unfortunately, the political elite in the subcontinent does not want
      this peace and friendship. Already in Pakistan and Bangladesh the
      religious movements are gaining ground to tackle with NGO movement which
      they fear are secular and western oriented. IN Bangladesh, NGO are
      getting threatened. Similarly, our own country, Hindu Rastra groups are
      not legging behind while terming the NGOs as western stooge. All those
      who talks about friendship with the entire subcontinent are termed as
      anti-national.

      The war is always gender bias and it increases this. Nobody, bothers
      about it in the subcontinent where the basic needs of the people have
      yet to be prioritised. We hear on TV reporter announcing most of the
      wives or mother whose sons died for the cause of the country wants sons
      now so that they can take revenge of their fathers martyrdom. That means
      girls are not required. They cannot serve the nation. They can only weep
      and cry. They can only worship for the protection of Sindoor.. In
      Pakistan and Bangladesh, as reported by some of the friends, Mullahs
      have said that woman as head of state is ill omen and will destroy these
      countries. May be after some time, the Sangh parivar will also say the
      same thing. Politics, Militarism, Cricket, everything is man made and
      hence there is no place for women. In the already gender bias
      sub-continent this will endanger the cause of women.

      In this entire exercise of war, there is no one talking to Kashmiris,
      what are their grievances. India does not want Kashmir issue to be
      internationalised as if it is not internationalised right now. While
      Pakistan is showing its keenness for a plebiscite. Can it do the same
      thing in Azad Kashmir and also in Karachi. Can any country hold
      plebiscite in any of its territory. It will open Pandora boxes. Hence
      the Kurd will not be allowed to go for autonomy in the same way as China
      will never want Tibet to go for autonomy. When all the rulers of the
      world have decided not to allow freedom to those who disagree with them
      than talking about autonomy will be futile. Yet, we will have to
      discover new ways to live in plural societies and aspirations of ethnic
      minorities.

      In the last fifty years of the subcontinent, this issue has crippled the
      Indian subcontinent. First the Muslim minority, than the issues of
      Dalits and tribal, than the ethnic and religious minorities all have
      been asserting about them after victimisation from the ruling elite.
      Pakistan became victim of its own elitism in 1971 when its leadership
      ignore the vast sentiments of Bangla people. Indian middle classes have
      to face the challenge from a new emerging Dalit-tribal-backward alliance
      in the post 90s which threatens to change the nature of ruling elite in
      north. The upper-caste Hindu hatred for this upcoming of these sections
      is well known and might not be lessor for what the Punjabi Muslim
      leadership of Pakistan had for East Bengal people. Yet, India is living
      with Dalit backward revolution as whatever are the draw backs, we still
      are a democracy and all the sections of the society are enjoying it.
      This is the power of democracy. Perhaps this is the lesson for other
      south Asian counterparts so strengthen democratic set-up in their own
      country. It is not that democracy has benefited the lowest of the low
      but still it will very soon change under the assertion of the people. So
      far the ruling elite has co-opted the ruling elite of Dalits and tribal
      and hence nothing is expected of them. There is cynicism among the
      masses which can be witnessed from the situation that the Narmada
      campaign has not got support from any political party though the
      supporting individuals and mass movements are growing.

      There is a dire need for the people of South Asia to come together, join
      hand, form a strong network. Please share your information with us and
      we will share our information with you. Let there be more and more
      interaction among us. Delhi Lahore and Calcutta Dhaka bus service was a
      good venture as it could have been possible for the grass root activists
      to meet their counterparts in these countries. Majority of South Asian
      activists cannot afford air tickets for their meetings and hence it was
      a good thing to happen but it seems that the ruling elite in these
      countries does not want this to happen. We know there are other
      organisations in the name of solidarity with Pakistan ( I am not sure
      how many of those who want friendship with Pakistan or India know them)
      yet there is not much about South Asian friendship. It might be possible
      for other South Asian friends to put pressure on these two big brothers
      to sit together and find out a solution to their problem. Kashmir is the
      bone of contention and its solution is not easy as political hawks in
      both the countries would term it as victory or defeat of their party. It
      is a party issue and hence vote bank politics will play its role here.
      But it need serious thinking. We cannot remain a mute spectators to
      such mishaps when the two armies who share the same old legacy fight
      with each other for their blood. The time has come for serious thinking
      over the issues. 20th century was the century of wars and nuclear
      holocausts let us not enter the 21st century with the burden of past.
      Let peace and good senses prevail.



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