Thursday, April 1, 2010

Selective History...

Year 1990: In Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, about 300 citizens of this country were killed just because the police shot down a gangster who happened to be a Muslim. There was curfew in the ENTIRE city of Hyderabad. I was a kid then, but still vividly remember the empty streets, roads and also the mad traffic rush to buy stuff when the curfew was relaxed. How many of us even know the name of the Chief Minister, leave alone remember it? The then Chief Minister Mr. Marri Chenna Reddy openly accused factions within Congress party of engineering these riots to unsettle him. Internal bickering cost 300 lives, devasted 1000's of life, disturbed peace in the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, and yet we never, NEVER hear of these riots anywhere in the media. Not one rioter was arrested, Chenna Reddy resigned as CM, but went on to become the Governor of Tamil Nadu some years later, and died in office.

Year 1983:
Nellie massacre in Assam.Official records itself indicate about 2000 Muslims were killed. Most of those killed were immigrants from Bangladesh. There was an agitation going on in Assam to expel these immigrants, but the Central government was keen having elections to tap this vote bank, and despite severe objections, went ahead and announced the elections. In terms of numbers, this is one of the biggest massacre, completely ignored by the state government. And hey, even I knew about this only in recent times after the advent of the superb information available on the Internet. Does anyone know the name of the Chief Minister of the state? And go figure out who the Prime Minister of the country was then.

How many of us know who the Chief Minister of Maharashtra was during the 1993 riots? How many of us know who the Home Minister of India was during 1984? These are just a couple of incidents of the many many riots that have happened in India.

Which brings me to my basic question. Who is responsible for the exclusive concentration of ANY riots related debate to center around 1984 ad 2002? Why is the media shying away from discussing in an impassionate way, ALL these riots/carnages etc. My stand on 2002, 1993, 1990,1989, 1984, 1983 1978 etc is the same, but if I demand equal justice in all cases, why am I being looked upon as someone with dubious political intentions?

Say for example, if I demand that the perpetrators of 1984 be punished on par with 2002 riots, why on earth is that argument twisted as if I am "justifying" the 2002 riots? Media blames Congress for 1984, Modi for 2002. Why can't it blame Rajiv and Modi, or the Congress and the BJP? How does my questioning of this distortion of the media, which has phenomenal reach to people of this country construed as a "justification" of the 2002 riots?

When questioned about the recent lak of coverage imediately after 2010 Hyderabad riots erupted, journos answer saying these are because of the political games. So, does that justify not covering them and discussing them?

Why is the discourse of the riots in India, the "reliving of ghosts" exclusively limited to the 1984 and 2002 riots alone? Don't the people of this country need to have maximum information at their disposal and then be allowed to come to their conclusion? Why is asking for a full account of history termed as being loony and a right winger?

Who is responsible for not putting a full stop to the devious methods many many cheap politicians used to fan thse emotions, and even continue to do it today? Why can't we debate and set in process a motion that will ensure rioters think twice before embarking on mass killing and destruction?Why has the judiciary been let off in the criticism so far? If we are willing to go back in history to study these occurences in depth, why are we stopping at 1984? Aren't all these topics worthy of debate, or will I be called names for even suggesting this?

Go ahead and blame Narendra Modi. It's your opinion, I won't contest it. But please extend that same courtesy to all those leaders mentioned above too. Please don't make the whole riots thing sound as a debate between 1984 and 2002. You are doing grave injustice by discussing selective history.

PS: A similar piece on the "C-word" is here.


sanjay said...

Few democratic institutions in india can stand scrutiny, that includes media, but for internet you wouldn't have been able to even put your questions in a public forum, let alone getting answers.

Sathya Siva Chandan G said...

Excellent Blog.
Media always blames congress for 1984 and modi for 2002.
It is the media''s responsibility to be fair in their coverage.
Maybe the media should even relive the "2010 hyd ghosts"on march 29,2011.

VOX INDICA said...

Let me update you about the genesis of communal strife in 1990. Rajiv Gandhi was out of power and the so called INC held only three states, AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra. M. Chenna Reddy, Verendra Patil and Sharad Pawar, the CMs of these states held a conclave in Tirupati. Rajiv Gandhi smelled a rat and believed that the conclave was conducted with the intention of destabilising his presidency. He appealed to his acolytes to do 'something'. Sharad Pawar was too strong in Maharashtra and nobody could do anything. But acolytes YSR Reddy in AP and Jaffar Shariff in Karnataka swung into action: there were riots in Hyderabad and Bangalore almost at the same time and stopped after Chenna Reddy and Verendra Patil stepped down, so suddenly as if a tap was turned off!

VOX INDICA said...

This is what Steven I Wilkinson (2005) said in his VOTES & VIOLENCE about the role of the congress party in communal riots in India:

“…at one time or another, Congress politicians have both fomented and prevented communal violence for political advantage. Congress governments have failed, for example, to prevent some of India’s worst riots (e g, the Ahmedabad riots of 1969, the Moradabad riots of 1980, and the Meerut riots of 1987) and in some cases Congress ministers have reportedly instigated riots…and have blocked riot enforcement.”

“in the post-independence era Congress has at times benefited electorally from Hindu-Muslim violence and I find that we can identify no robust statistical relationship between Congress rule and the level of riots, a result I attribute to the widely varying communal character of the party and its leadership across time and place.”


Vishwa said...

It has been 20 years since the Pandits were thrown out of valley. That case can fit into all categories of crimes like terrorism, communal violence, vandalism. But somehow nobody other than a few freelancers are really worried about it. Small groups like Panun Kashmir are fighting for their cause.
A media which can rally behind victims in famous cases like Jessica Lal et all, have no sort of considerations for the widows or the orphaned children.
Were are the culprits? What is the effect of the crimes that they committed? The effect is that the culprits have today become experts and parties to kashmir discussion. And the broad minded media gives them enough space.

Where is the justice? where is the SC? where is the SIT? where are the NHRC activists? Where is NDTV, CNN IBN? Where is the GoI?

Ashok Pandit's documentary "....And the world remained silent" is an eye-opener

Selective history and selective reporting go hand in hand...

Sruthi said...


i dont deny anything that u r saying. but i believe that the two incidents... 84 and '02 are more relevant cos of the implications tht followed.

and so to whether congress and bjp, should be blamed and not just one... i believe the masses should be blamed.

and as for incarcenating modi now.... it is precisely what he wants. he is riding the crest of his infamous personage. thts his political strategy right thr.

Sudhir said...

Thanks all for the comments.

Sanjay, so far media is the only public institution that has literally no checks and balances. And worse, they are not even ready to debate the need for one!

Vox Indica - Thanks for those details. These murky political dealing by those folks need to be told out to the world. That the media chooses not to discuss these issues is shameful to say the least.

Vishwa - True, Kashmir Pandit's deserve every bit of space in today's media but media just looks the other way round ...

Sruthi - True, blame the masses too. My contention with this whole debate is that we are unfairly concentrating only on two of them whilst there have been many that have equally shaped the polarisation of the society in parts. For me, as a resident of Hyderabad 1990 matters as much as 1984/2002 as an Indian. All I am saying is that give full information to the people, and let them decide. Who gave media the authority to decide what riots to selectively debate?

- Sudhir

Sudhir said...

Sathya Siva - That was a great point about media reliving the Hyd riots ghosts in March, 2011. Let's see if they will do it...

- Sudhir

Jaideepb said...

Dear Sudhir

thanks again for a great blow with informarion but i am sure, despite your willingness& perhaps space constraint, you could not share the details of the following riots
1) Bhagalpur
2) Meerut
3) the recent one Hyd old city (i dont remember the particular time but sure being the old city, the so called 'minority' members wudnt have been dead)

and if we all agree, even 1984 has been sent to backburner due to obvious reasons and convenience of a particular party, a party which seems to be the apple of the media eye. whereas 2002 happened in a state run by a man & a party which is cynosure in the eyes of media. moreover, media has very meticulously arranged to ignore the run up to the riots (Godhra massacre).

media & intellectuals can not be selective in covering riots. every life lost is a loss to a family and it includes the loss of lives of majority too, after all Gujrat riots also saw hindus dead.

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