By Quamar Ashraf
Apart from routine publication of statements/press releases of different community organisations and individuals, the naming of proposed mosque in Ayodhya – to be built in lieu of Babri Masjid – after 1857 mutiny warrior Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, got some prominence, albeit with a pinch of salt.
Slow pace of vaccination due to reports of side-effects, even death, and opacity around vaccine flashed daily. In this regard, Prof Akhtarul Wassey’s article in Inquilab (25 January) severely criticised ulema for calling coronavirus vaccine haram over the use of pork gelatine in it.
Farmers’ protests: Tikait tears turn the tables, govt fails to set anti-stir narrative
Drops of tears rolling down farmer leader Rakesh Tikait’s face rejuvenated the protesters who were feeling low in the wake of the Republic Day violence during tractor rally. Not only in Ghazipur protest site in Uttar Pradesh, but scores of farmers again started assembling at Singhu borders in Haryana as well. However, Etemaad edit (28 January) raised questioned the silence of police and intelligence agencies for staying mute spectators even as the mob went berserk. An article in Sahafat (29 January), stated that the free run to the unruly mob on R-Day was a ploy to defame the protests. Notably, a day after the violence, the Urdu media had termed it ‘anarchy’ with RSU edit (27 January) saying that flag hosting parallel to the tricolour at Red Fort was “symbolic attack” on R-day. The embarrassment Narendra Modi government faced following the Red Fort siege was one of the worst moment in the incumbent’s dispensation, (HS edit, 28 January).
Interestingly, no articles/edits in concrete terms dealt upon the three controversial farm laws – much like the Modi government which often passes statements in its defence over a plenty of contentious issues instead of rebutting any charges with facts. Islamic jurisprudent Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani’s article (HE, 29 January) raised some points of the laws but quickly brought in Islamic principles to assail the government on the issue.
China incursion: Little escape route for muscular nationalist govt
Opposition attacks on government over the “appalling silence” of the Narendra Modi government on China’s incursion got regular coverage, mostly on front page. The Munsif edit (January 23) says that if India continues to ignore China’s aggressive posture – understandably due to domestic consideration – the communist nation would one day “usurp entire Arunachal Pradesh”. Some edits/articles suggested the BJP government to take up the issue “proactively on diplomatic level” instead of pandering to “abstract, lofty claims” to satisfy the “whims of its domestic constituents”.
Bengal polls: Ingenious to trace media mischief on Mamata’s ‘humiliation’
Urdu newspapers largely toed the narrative set by mainline media, giving prominence to “Jai Shri Ram chanting” part as the key reason which triggered Mamata Banerjee to “quit the event” organised in Kolkata to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. However, most of the papers carried sympathetic stories on her “humiliation”, in the presence of PM Modi. In Inquilab, Shakil Hassan Shamsi hailed Mamata (25 January) for standing firm against the “bogey of Hindutva”, writing that Bengal visits by tall leaders manifests the degree of influence and popularity she enjoys. The RSU edit (23 January), however, says that few would now buy Mamata’s argument that her legislators/ministers were joining BJP, fearing probe in corruption charges against them. It suggests that the exodus to BJP was due to dissent in her party, especially mentioning Rajib Banerjee’ resignation.
Arnab Goswami: Not the nice man to know
Zafar Agha in Siasat (24 January) writes that Arnab Goswami episode was an open secret. Possibly, people might not be awared of such an ugly media-government nexus, but the episode calls for a thorough probe of entire news media industry. Definitely, Goswami and his ilk, who are ruling the industry, have been willingly or unwillingly taken the task of protecting and projecting the Narendra Modi government. Hitting out at government, Abdul Aziz’s article in HE (24 January) put, “Even if probe is done, he would not face any punishment,” implying the compromised institutions. While Arnab Goswami might not face action, “the expose has pushed the media and the government on backfoot,” stated Khalid Shaikh’s article in Inquilab (29 January). Interestingly, the Wire Urdu took a swipe at Arnab after his Republic TV sent notice to The Indian Express for “breaching all journalistic ethics”.