Media’s Noble Role in Stopping Unjust Demolitions Needs Wide Appreciation

bulldozer raj nuh haryana

Recently some highly responsible, timely and credible reporting by several newspapers has played an important role in stopping demolitions in Nuh district of Haryana beyond the fourth day. These efforts of journalists should be widely appreciated as this will further encourage similar journalism of great social responsibility.

On August 8 a report in The Times of India titled ‘Ethnic cleansing by state?—HC halts Nuh demolitions’ stated, “Bulldozers were halted in Nuh on Monday August 7 on what would have been the fifth day of demolition of properties with alleged links to rioters after the Punjab and Haryana high court took suo-motto cognizance of newspaper reports and stepped in.”

It is apparent from this report that the reporting on demolitions by some newspapers had played an important role in checking the demolitions. This writer has read these and related reports in several newspapers including The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times of India and The Hindustan Times and certainly these carefully written reports have made a very important contribution. While several of these reports are commendable, the reports in the Hindu deserve special appreciation.

A particularly touching report written by Ashok Kumar in The Hindu (August 8) is titled ‘He saved three from a mob in Nuh; six days later, a bulldozer came visiting to demolish his house’. This report describes how a Muslim person Anish risked his own life to protect three Hindu travelers, but just a little later Anish’s house was demolished although his role was only that of saving and protecting and not at all of any rioting. Anyone who reads this report will think a lot about how unjust these hurriedly carried out demolitions have been.

Another important report published on the same day in The Times of India is titled—‘Bulldozers hit women and kids the hardest—Left homeless on a rainy day, they struggle to meet basic needs.’ This report by Vishakha Chaman will also make any sensitive reader feel strongly that such extreme injustice must stop. Alongside, there is another good report by Ankita Anand which brings out the agony of those Muslim workers forced to leave Gurugram homes but which also brings out the peace efforts of those trying to bring security to the Muslim families so that they do not have to leave. Such reports also play an important and useful role.

The Hindustan Times published an article by the highly reputed former IPS officer Vibhuti Narain Rai on August 8 titled ‘In Nuh clashes lurk old patterns of sectarianism ( a Hindi version was published in ‘Hindustan’ on the same day). In this he has mentioned the various cautions that are taken in such times by police and administration generally and then comparing this with what happened in Mewat, he has brought out the weaknesses of the recent response to tensions that had been created over a period of time. Due to the wide experiences of Mr. Rai as a police officer and his known commitment to communal harmony, his views expressed in this article have attracted a lot of attention, and the editors have done well to publish his opinion piece in both English and Hindi.

He has stated clearly, “The first response of the administration was poorly planned and inadequate, and its subsequent (in)action smacked of bias.” The earlier failure to take strong action against those who were involved in violence and killings related to cow vigilantism “fuelled a general impression that administrative action in such cases was not only inadequate but full of communal prejudice.”

On the same day the Hindustan Times also published a report on the High Court’s decision—“The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday August 7 stayed the Haryana administration’s demolition drives in strife-torn Nuh and  Gurugram.” This report also quoted from the high court bench order which has stated,“ The issue also arises whether the buildings belonging to a particular community are being brought down under the guise of law and order problem…”

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, When the Two Streams Met, A Day in 2071 and Earth without Borders.

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