Unbiased reportage caught the attention of the courts, which stepped in to stop unjustified action against a particular community in Haryana, says Bharat Dogra
Recently, responsible, timely and credible reporting by several newspapers played an important role in curbing indiscriminate demolition of property in Haryana’s Nuh District. On August 8, a report in The Times of India titled ‘Ethnic cleansing by state? HC halts Nuh demolitions’ said “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 suomoto cognizance of newspaper reports and stepped in.”
The reports referred to appeared in several newspapers including The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times of India and The Hindustan Times. The reports published in The Hindu deserve special appreciation, particularly one by Ashok Kumar (August 8) titled, ‘He saved three from a mob in Nuh; six days later, a bulldozer came visiting to demolish his house’. It described what befell a Muslim man who risked his life to protect Hindu travellers. (We are using a picture taken by Ashok Kumar with the same caption as it appeared in The Hindu.)
The Times of India’s Vishakha Chaman wrote on the same day about how women and children were the hardest hit by the demolitions. Ankita Anand wrote in the same paper about the agony of Muslim workers forced to leave their Gurugram homes and also about the efforts of those trying to make Muslim families secure enough not to leave.
On August 8, The Hindustan Times published an article by former IPS Officer Vibhuti Narain Rai, known for his commitment to communal harmony, in which he brought out the weaknesses of the recent police response to tensions that had been created over a period of time. He said, “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.” The article was published in both English and Hindi.
(The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.)