Hate Propaganda in Gujarat Press


Home ] Up ]


Hate Propaganda in Gujarat Press and Bardoli Riots

Ghanshyam Shah


SOME Gujarati newspapers played a provocative role in the communal riots of June 25 to 27, 1998 in Bardoli, a small fast-growing town about 30 kms from Surat. They violated all professional norms of journalism. They published fabricated biased and one-sided news reports which greatly contributed towards creating tension in the town. This was the conclusion of a 20-member fact-finding team comprising journalists, Sarvodaya workers, lawyers and professors, including this writer, which went to Bardoli in early July to investigate the truth behind these newspaper reports. The team established this after meeting members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and police as well as the principal of the local college, social activists and non-party people from the Hindu and Muslim communities in the riot-affected town. Bardoli’s population, according to the 1991 Census, is made up of 89 per cent Hindus, 9 per cent Muslims and 2 per cent Buddhists and others.

If this trend to unrestrained media propaganda continues, it will destroy the fabric of our civil society. It becomes most dangerous when the state and media join hands against the minorities and all dissenting views.

What follows are some examples of the kind of reports that appeared between June 25 and 30 in Surat in Gujarat Samachar, Sandesh and Dhabkar, all daily newspapers. Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh are widely circulated papers. Apart from Surat, they both also come out from four other centres: Baroda, Ahmedabad and Rajkot in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Dhabkar is a new paper which competes with Gujarat Samachar in Surat. Dhabkar’s editor was earlier the resident editor of Gujarat Samachar in Surat.

The story about the attack by a Muslim crowd on the midnight of June 26 in Bardoli which appeared in Gujarat Samachar and Dhabkar on June 27 was found by us to be completely fabricated. Photographs published in one newspaper were manipulated.

Gujarat Samachar had a four-column headline: ‘Muslims Retaliate in Bardoli: Disgusting Attempt to Set Fire to Three Innocent Children. Attempt to Rape Women, Idol of Ganpati Dada Broken’. Dhabkar had a four-column headline: ‘Attempt to Set Fire to Halpatis and Maharashtrians at Midnight. Fifty Muslims Go to Mangifaliya at Midnight with Kerosene Tin and Arms’. This was an attempt to instigate Halpatis, who are tribal agricultural labourers, and Maharashtrians, who are sugar factory workers in Bardoli, against Muslims. Mangifaliya is a locality in Bardoli.

Hindu militants took out a rally in Bardoli on June 25. Independent observers told us that the strength of the rally was between 200 to 250 persons. The heads of the RSS and Bajrang Dal told us that 500 people participated in the rally. The leaders of the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal also admitted to us that stones were not thrown from the Vhorvad mosque in Bardoli as police was inside the mosque. However, on June 26, Dhabkar and Gujarat Samachar came out with following versions.

Dhabkar had an eight-column headline: ‘Bardoli in Flames as Stones Are Thrown from Vhorvad Mosque on VHP Rally’. Its other four-column bold headline said: ‘Four Swords Sparkle Near the Mosque as Slogans of Allah-o-Akbar and Pakistan Zindabad Are Raised’. It also had a headline which declared that the VHP had held a rally of 4,000 persons. Gujarat Samachar on its last page had a four-column headline: ‘Riots Flare Up in Bardoli as Stones Are Thrown from Mosque on Hindu Rally’. It also had a boxed item with the headline: ‘Muslims Throw Stones while Chanting Peace, Peace’.

Before, during and after the riots, a number of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders made provocative speeches against the Muslims. Some of them asked the Hindus to take law into their hands and resort to violent means. The speeches of these leaders were reported by Sandesh, Dhabkar and Gujarat Samachar.

Sandesh on June 25 had a four-column headline: "Hindus’ Tolerance Turns into Timidity. They Must Come out of That: Harshad Shah (RSS)". The same newspaper on June 29 had the headlines ‘Security of 70 Per Cent Muslims of the State Will Have a Question Mark If They Do Not Improve Their Behaviour: Dr Togadiya of VHP’. Shah is an RSS pracharak. Togadiya is the VHP president in Gujarat. Dhabkar on June 25 had the headlines: ‘Muslims Should Be Stripped Naked and Beaten’. It carried for two days, on June 25 and 26, the headline: ‘Muslims Who Kidnap Hindu Women Should Be Crushed Like Mosquitoes’.

Gujarat Samachar on June 27 had this unsigned piece: "In Bardoli, some Muslims systematically trap Hindu girls by cajoling, bribing, cheating and marrying them. The number of such incidents has reached five. It is a bitter but true fact that to counter this, organisations like the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal have not been able to do anything concrete... Due to this, the Muslims have had a free way and two [more] incidents have taken place". It had on June 30 another unsigned piece: "Hindus have the cultural traditions of Shivaji who called a Muslim woman a mother. They, therefore, do not kidnap Muslim girls. Nobody should look upon the tolerance of Hindus as timidity."

Newspapers published rumours and gave them credibility. Gujarat Samachar on June 29 had this item: "There is a fear that Muslims from Kabod, Valod, Malekpor, Vyara and Nandarbar will provoke riots." Kabod, Valod, Malekpor, Vyara and Nandarbar are villages near Bardoli. On the same day, it also carried this report: "It is believed that there is an international conspiracy that a Muslim who marries a maiden Hindu girl gets Rs 60,000 and the Muslim who marries a married "Hindu woman receives Rs one lakh." Sandesh on June 29 had this piece: Hindu women are sold to Muslim countries and are being exploited... Hindu girls are trapped with the help of Bharatiya Samudrik Shastra (Indian maritime law)". Dhabkar of June 29 had this: "Four lakh Hindu women have become victims of such a conspiracy."

The above examples are illustrations of what these Gujarati newspapers have been saying. These papers hardly ever publish the experiences or views of the minority community. One needs to do a detailed content analysis of the style, idioms and phrases used by these newspapers.

(Courtesy: Economic and Political Weekly)

Journalistic 'Fictions'
Media & Minorities
Media Control
Media Coverage
Hate Propaganda in Gujarat Press

HINDU ,Dalit, Muslims, INDIA , 

Fascism, Nazism, GenocidesHuman rights

Indian fascism :Intro,Myths, Organizations, Cultural Fascism,Babri Masjid, Bombay Riots , Role of Govt. 

Images  Posters  Cartoon  Audio & Video   News & Events  What'sNew E-Zine About US

Discuss The Topic Further On Our Public Bulletin Board 

To subscribe our newsletter and to get future update notifications, Join our mailing list! Enter your email address below, then click the button

1 Add this page to Favorites * Share it with a Friend : Make it your Homepage!

Your suggestions  will keep us abreast of what do u like to see in these pages.

FAIR USE NOTICE: Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. This Web contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making these available in our efforts to advance understanding of human rights, democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a `fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use these copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond `fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Last updated: February 23, 2000 .