Urdu Press This Week : Barabanki mosque demolition, Palestine-Israel conflict and Modi’s image

By Quamar Ashraf

While Palestine-Israel conflict, mosque demolition in UP and coronavirus issue got significant coverage, other issues dominating the Urdu newspapers this week include Asif Khan lynching and 34th anniversary of Hashimpura massacre. With regard to Asif Khan, gym trainer from Mewat in Haryana, lynching the newspapers obliquely discovered “state government’s attempt to deflect attention from failures in Covid front” even though the “anti-Muslim hatred” remained one of dominant part in most of the edits and articles on it. The issue of the Hashimpura massacre has duly been depicted as a “symbol of injustice” by almost all newspapers. Advocate Abu Bakar Sabaq Subhani in a Rashtriya Sahara Urdu article dealt upon the issue with concrete details, covering it from human rights angle, concluding that “hoping for justice is futile”. The article, however, suggested the Muslims to “keep past mistakes refresh” as they would keep the community going.

Palestine-Israel conflict

The four aspects that served base for all coverages on Palestine-Israel conflict include hyphenation of UN with US-Israel; silence of Arab world, positioning of Muslim nations and mounting pressures on western governments.

Most of the tirade in edits/articles were on expected lines but with a little difference this time as many opinion pieces equally take on Arab world also for not taking any position. It is a slight departure from conventional reporting on the issue in Urdu press though. Strong words were used against the despotic Arab regime. Many editorials and articles were highly critical of KSA and UAE, along with Egypt and Jordan, in the wake of “increasing bonhomie with the Zionist regime”. The Silence of Kingdom – Saudi Arabia – is appalling, which is no less than “a criminal negligence” of the longstanding conflict, said Sahafat edit. However, the role of Iran was widely appreciated across all Urdu papers even as only a small number of editorials and articles praised Pakistan and Turkey for taking “strong position”, albeit obliquely, for obvious reasons. Shakeel Hassan Shamsi in his piece gave background of the conflict – with a mix of religious articulation – urging Muslim countries to come together to resolve the crisis. Press statements from Muslim community leaders denouncing Israel, US and the UN were regularly carried out by all papers. In fact, UN roles were severely criticised with many editorials urging the need for “massive overhaul” of the world body. Some call for “revamping or disbanding the UN”. The Inquilab editorial says “Israeli agreed for a ceasefire since it observed that public pressure on western governments  are mounting” and that it can no longer get a “free run” from its conventional supporters. Siasat edit holds “US responsible for the blood spilled on the streets of Gaza”. President Biden, who was hailed months back by Urdu press when he had defeated Donald Trump, was criticized by all papers highlighting “his soft stand” towards Israel when Jerusalem was declared its capital.

Demolition of century-old mosque in Barabank

The issue was prominently covered across all papers throughout the week with Muslim bodies issuing appeals of “restraint” while resolving to campaign for restoration of the mosque. The century-old Garib Nawaz mosque in Ram Sanehi Ghat tehsil was demolished by the UP administration without any legal justification in the presence of police. Inquilab edit called it “outrageous” akin to crime against Muslim minority. Masoom Moradabadi in a hard-hitting piece on the issue, carried out by several publications, said that the UP government, like the BJP-led Centre, follows on “deflecting attention” from the crore issue, pointing out chaotic healthcare service in the state. Other papers such as Sahafat, Hamara Samaj and Hindustan Express carried articles and edits on the same line, expressing little hope of justice from the Yogi Adityanath government. The Mumbai-based Urdu Times edit said that “venom of communalism has trickled down deep into the conscience of a section of the majority community.”  Press statements of the All-India Muslim Law Board (AIMPLB) demanding judicial enquiry was displayed with prominent with many other organisations expressing their anger over the atrocious move.

‘Coronavirus damages Modi’s image beyond redemption’

In a scathing edit titled “Speaking Corpse”, Siasat severely criticized the “insensitive” Narendra Modi government. It also took on Yogi Adityanath writing “Thousands of bodies were found floating in river, many buried in sand on the banks of Ganga show the apathy of the state government”. Hamara Samaj gave a good display to the press statement of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat whose president Navaid Hamid slammed UP government following reports of bodies being cremated using tyres. “It shows the government’s mindset,” said the statement. The Rashtriya Sahara Urdu edit said BJP was unnecessarily discovering Congress hands behind international criticism of Modi with regard to handling Covid. It said, “Instead of addressing gaps in policies, the ruling party is engaged in building its ‘image’ which has been torn apart by the international press.”

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The writer is a media analyst. He can be reached at quamar.ashraf@gmail.com

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