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Some Observations on an irresponsible article in Milli Gazette:

Paper No. 5271                        Dated 29-Oct-2012

By R.Upadhyay

Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan in an article entitled "A Polity based on double standards" published in the on line Milli Gazette dated September 29, 2012 claimed that "a secret circular went out from the home ministry not to recruit Muslims in government jobs. Secret orders went out to depopulate Muslims from areas adjoining Pakistan and so Muslims were driven out of East Punjab, soldiers went from house to house in Mewat and IAF planes strafed their villages in a bid to drive them out (http://www.milligazette.com/news/4106-a-polity-based-on-double-standards-indiat)

Mili Gazettte claims to be the first English newspaper of Indian Muslims started in 2000 and Dr Khan is its editor as well as its publisher. He is also the president of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an apex forum of Muslim organizations and institutions which claims to be a non-political body (Wikipedia). His observation without disclosing either the source or the official reference has however, not only affected the credibility of both the Milli Gazette and the AIMMM but also posed a question as to how even a highly qualified Muslim intellectual with academic brilliance like him has no inhibitions in using journalism for a communal fight to promote misguided communal politics that successive governments in post-Independence India have witnessed.

Media being an important pillar of democracy is expected to play a constructive role in shaping the minds of the people. Articles run by the media like the one quoted above does not do justice to the Muslim community.

To understand the nature and character of this kind of journalism in post-partition India one must try to know its link with Urdu media which played a very important role in Pakistan movement. In fact the Urdu knowing Muslim leaders of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar along with the descendents of the Pre-British Muslim rulers settled in other parts of the country were in the forefront of Pakistan movement under the banner of All India Muslim League. Projecting Urdu as a symbol of the Islamic culture and religious identity of the Muslims though it was developed by the Muslim rulers and was spoken only by the urban Muslims of north India, they used the news papers and magazines in this language for transforming the mind of the educated section of Muslim middle class in favour of partition. The middle class Muslims mobilised the Islamic masses by creating hysteria of their religion which ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan.

Ironically, even after partition and creation of Pakistan, the intellectually and financially sound Urdu knowing north Indian Muslims who remained in India appear to adopt the same strategy of Muslim League and revived religious identity based politics. They too used the Urdu press which emerged as the sole representative of Muslim media for reflecting the political and religious grievances of the Indian Muslims and created the environment of negativism in Muslim society. Accusing the mainstream Indian media for its biased views on Muslim issues the Urdu Media monopolised the opinion building exercise in the community.

A glance at this kind of journalism in post-partition India reveals that it has largely focused its reporting on the emotional issues like the conspiracy theory against Islam, the sufferings, poverty, backwardness and injustice to the community from the government, communal identity, and coverage of personalities and events in other Muslim countries. It only carries the provocative stories during communal riots and generates utopian ideas that one day the whole world will come under Islamic rule.

Instead of fighting for the political rights of every citizen the Muslim media has been inciting agitations only for the political and religious rights of the Muslims. Its news and views therefore always create impression that the religion, culture and language of Indian Muslims are under perpetual threat.. It has never set any national agenda like problem of unemployment, prevailing corruption, price rise and rural developments which affect the entire population of the country. .

In the absence of standard education among the larger section of many Muslims who neither know English nor comfortable in reading Hindi newspapers, the Urdu media has a special responsibility to report objectively . Moreover, the newspapers and magazines in this language rarely publish the articles beyond the issues related to Islam and identity politics of the community as a result their readers are devoid of even the surface knowledge of the positive side of contemporary national developments.

Its failure to arouse an emotional outlook among readers towards the emerging socio-economic and democratic reality in post-British India is the main reason as to why even after over sixty-five years of Independence such articles cited earlier that are likely to cause communal disharmony in the country are in circulation.

In view of the biased attitude of the Muslim media its readers hardly find intellectually honest analysis on the post-partition psychological orientations which could also be responsible for the backwardness of the community. No attempt was made to mobilise opinion among the common Muslims for sending their children to government schools. Contended with publishing the stereotype emotional issues it is rather causing more harm to the community than shaping their mind to face the challenges of the country.

In absence of even a single credible English, Urdu or Hindi newspaper plus the indifferent attitude of Muslim intellectuals towards educating their brethren, the Islamist forces are never countered when they argue that the mainstream media is biased against the minority community.

Unfortunately, a couple of English news paper and magazines like Radiance by Jamaat-Islami Hind and Milli Gazette also follow the foot-steps of their Urdu counterparts and publish mostly the emotional issues of the community.

Surprisingly, the books and articles of some of the Muslim journalists and authors having certain reservations against the Islamist politics of negativism are mostly in English which the Urdu educated Muslims cannot read. The Urdu translation of their writings could have been rather more useful for informing the readers objectively of the issues that trouble the community or even general issues at the national level.

There are some exceptions too but the media of the community hardly provides space to such journalists who are known of their balanced views. Some intellectuals like Mohammad Sajjad, Asstt. Prof. in Centre of Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University do write against such attitude of his community media in some on line column but it hardly reaches the common man who are more used to organised.gossip. See for example the items in (http://twocircles.net/2012aug09/nai_duniya_then_and_now_now_and_then.html) and also in
(
http://twocircles.net/2012sep22/indian_muslim_media_serving_its_purpose.html).

Anwer Hussain, a Muslim writer and a member of ‘The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism’ in Mumbai in an article ‘Muslims and Indian State since 1947’ rightly observed - "So the only way Muslims can break the cycle of isolation, siege mentality and political exploitation by so called secular parties who want us to remain ghettoised, is by deepening good relations with other communities living in India". (http://muslimstoday.in/2012/08/26/muslims-and-indian-state-since-1947/) .

Will these people be heard?

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