By Quamar Ashraf
Death of noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has widely been covered across all Urdu papers, praising his scholarly works on Islam even though some were a bit critical of him, understandably for his tilt towards right. He was perhaps the first Muslim to propose handing over Babri Masjid to Hindus. Remarkably, no edit/article, however, dared to downplay his scholarly work even as many criticised the Maulana for political stand on a range of issues. Besides, edits and articles on Ramzan fasting got good coverage with many scholars prioritising charity over rituals. On April 25, many papers carried the story of outgoing Chief Justice of India SA Bobde wanting Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan to be part of the mediation panel that was set up by the SC in 2019 to resolve the Ayodhya dispute. The Sahafat does an edit on it.
People paying price for govt attitude to pooh-pooh experts, scientists
Three aspects of the coronavirus scenario remain significant this week. They are: Modi govt’s incompetence, Hindu right-wing populism and unscientific temperament. Besides, a large number of Muslims and community organisations coming forward with medical support also got good coverage.
Poor anticipation: Union govt wasted one year of the pandemic, learning little from last year’s failure, writes Siasat edit (April 17). It adds that world countries ramp up production oxygen cylinders soon after the outbreak of the novel virus, but India wasted one year doing little on the front. Exporting vaccine shows poor anticipation of the Narendra Modi government, says Etemaad edit (April 21). Notably, India doubled oxygen export during the first 10 months of fiscal 2020-21 as compared to the entire financial year before it (Inquilab edit, April 25). It is worth mentioning that last year UNICEF had delivered 3,014 oxygen concentrators to India. HS edit (April 23) says that the Modi government failed to calculate the situation, leading to all mess up. It further writes that despite experts warning that India would be hit by the second wave, the government remained nonchalant. Some papers, however, also captured the SC’s pulling up the Modi government for lapses. RSU edit (April 24) satirically says it shows the magnitude of the crisis.
Right wing populism, narcissist leadership
Right-wing populism and narcissist approach of leadership have triggered “unimaginable disaster” after Uttarakhand government and Centre encouraged, welcomed and shower praises for the Mahakumbh devotees who take holy dip in millions in Haridwar, say editorial of most of the papers. In fact, U’khand CM made weird statements in support of the shahi snan. Besides, some leaders’ archaic proposition of Covid treatment was also carried out by several papers. In this regard, Shakil Hassan Shamsi (Inquilab, April 24) writes that frauds and cheats often apply all tactics to mint money. “Ramdev is one of them who knows how to mint money out of crisis. He sold ‘Coronil kit’ last June, claiming to cure corona in 3-14, days, but retracted later on.” He also launched a tablet in presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, wrongly claiming to have WHO’s approval. “But he failed to protect his own staff as 37 Patanjali employees tested positive for the virus,” writes Shamsi. Similarly, some papers, including Siasat edit (April 24), slam PM writing that the loquacious Prime Minister makes headline-catching claims. The edit adds that PM exhortation ‘one nation one tax, one nation one election bla bla’ doesn’t apply in Covid fight as several states complained of unequitable treatment by the Centre.
Muslim bodies support
While sporadic news stories in this regard were published ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, this time this get momentum as a number of articles and edits by community leaders exhorted people to contribute their bit amidst acute shortage of oxygen, beds and anti-viral drugs. Besides, several news stories on Muslims taking Hindu bodies to crematoriums and community organisations helping the poor with food grains were covered. However, the community support is increasingly getting formalised with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind giving a call to its cadre for serving the needy. In this regard, an article by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president Syed Sadatullah Husaini was taken by top publications. In this regard, Abdul Noor Shibli in a report (Hindustan Express, April 21) carried a story based on talks with two men – Wasim Khan and Shrique Hassan – who have been supplying oxygen to the needy without making any noise. Bringing the two to public domain proved helpful as the demands grew manifold. Their stocks started depleting also because Times of India carried a piece on them. Shibli’s report exhorts Muslims to support the people in need, calling it noble deeds according to Islam. However, the same writer takes on Okhla’s MLA Amanatullah Khan (HE, April 25) for seeking local imams’ help to make space for coronavirus patients in mosques. Carrying views of several activists and leaders including former MLA Asif Mohammad Khan, the report accuses AAP legislator of politicising the whole thing asking him to make use of vacant schools, marriage halls and other community facilities first for coronavirus patients.
US report bats for blacklisting India amidunchecked hate rhetoric
The provocative statement by controversial saffron-clad Swami against Prophet (SAW) has set renewed discourse on Narendra Modi government’s tacit support to hate mongers with major papers raising concerns over silence of law and order machinery. Is India becoming a banana republic?, asks several edits, demanding a check on hate contents. While political leaders through statements kept their pitch aggressive against the Hindu priest, write-ups of all religious leaders call for restraint, peace and dialogue. An Rashtriya Sahara Urdu edit, however, says that if someone speaks against Islam out of ignorance, it can be overlooked, but here the “deliberate attempts are made to provoke” Muslims. Amidst this backdrop, the marginalisation of Muslims and India’s poor human rights record also flagged by several columnists. The coverage on US commission report also got some prominence with Inquilab (April 23) carrying a front page bottom story on US Commission on International Religious Freedom, pointing out that the US body’s recommendation for the second year in a row to place India on a blacklist for religious freedom.