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General Missing the story: where was the media in 1984?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by kds1980, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Missing the story: where was the media in 1984?

    Missing the story: where was the media in 1984?

    Posted in: Asia
    By Nneka Nwosu
    Mar 23, 2008 - 7:20:18 PM
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    [​IMG] Babu Singh Dukhiya is the president of a 1984 riots victims’ society and he is getting cynical.

    “A thousand years will pass but we still won’t get justice. It took months and years in filing cases, recording statements and other such court work. Now it is almost 24 years since the riots,” says Dukhiya. This veteran of countless protest marches says he never got attention to his demands.

    Mohan Singh, a riot victim, the media didn’t pay attention during the 1984 riots. “In those days it was just Doordarshan for TV but now there are so many news channels. It is because of the media that there is hope of justice in the post-Godhra riots,” says Mohan Singh.

    Senior journalist Manoj Mitta, who along with lawyer H S Phoolka has written a book called When a Tree Shook Delhi on the riots, feels that the media in 1984 focused on Indira Gandhi's assassination and not the riots that followed

    “The media by and large went by the official line on the carnage. It focused on the happenings at Teen Murti Bhawan, where Indira Gandhi's body lay in state and where from people around the world had come to pay respect. So photographers were flocking to that place and the killings that were simultaneously going on in the capital did not get recorded at all. It’s bizarre but true,” he says.

    The 2002 Gujarat riots in contrast got extensive media coverage, which helped human rights activists to prod both the judiciary as well as public conscience.

    “At the time of Gujarat riots all these TV channels played a very important role in bringing out the magnitude of the violence that was going on and the dubious role played by state authorities. As a result, the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court had to take cognizance of high profile cases,” says Mitta.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 stood in Parliament to issue an apology on behalf of the Congress, admitting that the anti-Sikh riots were a shameful episode in India's history.

    "On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of our country, I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place," he said.

    Congress leader Jagdish Tytler did resign from the Union Cabinet hours after the PM's apology, but no prominent politician or government official has been ever found guilty of involvement in the 1984 riots.

    “In all big cases involving major political leaders and involving large-scale killings, there have been absolutely no convictions at all. So, that contrast is there to see between what happened in 1984 and what happened in 2002,” says Mitta.

    Lawyer H S Phoolka, who has represented 1984 riot victims for almost 24 years, admits he has not achieved much for his clients. The reason he alleges is sustained political pressure.

    “Some the judges were doing their duty very diligently and were giving orders of conviction, but the government manipulated in such a way that those judges were transferred. The cases then went to judges who looked pliable. Like we have mentioned one particular judge who was acquitting everybody. He decided 123 cases, out of which he acquitted 121,” says Phoolka.

    India didn’t pay attention to the riots in 1984 and now the danger is that it may forget them, say victim
     
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  3. Randip Singh

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    Sad but true.

    On a plus we have people like HSPhoolka and Manoj Mitta. Very brave men.
     
  4. spnadmin

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    This is an interesting overview of media covernage/noncoverage in India. And there are many ways to characterize it.

    What do we have to say about media coverage in the West? I remember 1984 very clearly. I also remember being troubled and confused by the coverage. Things did not add up.

    What history of western coverage can we bring to bear in this discussion?
     
  5. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    I remember the Times and BBC coverage of events leading up to all this. I remember an interview with Bhindranwala. It all seemed pretty fair.
     
  6. spnadmin

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    randip ji

    I had this weird thought. This was before the Internet and the worldwideweb. It is hard to keep a secret anymore. TV coverage was not 24/7 around the world news desks at that point either.

    My recollection is not that the US coverage was fair but that it was weak in terms of peeling back some of the layers of the onion on this. British press coverage -- when seen from the US side -- is uninhibited in its coverage and its criticism. American newspapers mistake lurid coverage for honest coverage. Even the "better" papers did a poor job with 1984. The better papers confuse themselves over what a better paper should think and say, and what is happening right in front of their eyes. I am almost up and ready at this point to do a study of this-- coverage of 1984.
     

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