This post is more an addendum to Barbar Indian’s brilliant analysis of the Slimes’ shocking duplicity in covering the persistent violence at Kandhamal. For more than a few weeks, the Slimes has been running a relentless campaign on Kandhamal on its front page (in the printed edition) with the focus always on the plight of the poor Christians facing the merciless swords of murderous Hindu mobs. It devoted at least two “Sunday specials” to “examine” the issue. We know of course, what the said “examination” means. This record led me to dismiss these pompous, hollows pieces as not blog-worthy.
But Barbar Indian’s post points at something really dangerous. The Slimes must deserve the honour of nakedly parading the politics-media nexus. We wish they hadn’t done it so crudely.
Barbar Indian’s exhibit of the cached page (the original news report) opens with:
3 Oct 2008, 1407 hrs IST,PTI
Thirty-nine days after a nun was allegedly raped during the Kandhamal riots…
The report that finally made it has framed the language thus:
4 Oct 2008, 0007 hrs IST,TNN
After dragging its feet for 38 days, the state government finally woke up to media reports and outrage across the country and abroad to arrest four suspects and suspend the inspector in-charge of Baliguda police station in Kandhamal, where the rape took place.
I don’t need to explain the glaring goof-up in the count of the number of days. Let’s forgive this as plain shoddiness. But, as Barbar Indian says, there’s a drastic, sinister alteration. While the original report said
“The woman was medically examined and the report received by us suggests possibility of rape,” Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar told.
According to the report of the nun’s medical examination, there was no external or internal vaginal injury, but semen was found inside.
The modified report is headlined 38 days later, Orissa govt admits nunâ€™s rape. This report features on today’s front page. I wonder how the Slimes crossed the chasm between possibility of rape and a pronouncement of certainty! It is also interesting that the first report lays down everything in a reporting-the-fact manner while the second report is laden with editorializing. The wise judges at the Slimes have pronounced the Orissa government guilty! Very convenient given that the usually-lamblike Manmohan Singh has thundered that Orissa has “affected” India’s image. Let’s also recall a similar roar when Manmohan Singh called the Gujarat riots a holocaust. While we are at it, let’s hear all the Prime Ministerial roars: this time, the roar has reverberated down South, in Karnataka. And we are forced to discern a connection: what do these three states have in common? Well, make that two states, realistically.
Now, to head off in an entirely different but related direction. We suddenly hear the confession of a top Maoist leader from Orissa.
One of Orissa’s most wanted Maoist leaders has claimed responsibility for the Aug 23 killing of a Hindu leader that triggered anti-Christian attacks in the state in which at least 35 people have been killed and thousands forced to flee to the jungles to escape rampaging mobs.
Sabyasachi Panda, leader of the Orissa unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), has said on television that his group killed Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others in Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district.
And as we behold, we wonder at this miracle. Why was he silent for 38 or 39 (according to the Slimes’ almanac) days? His reasons for the gruesome murder of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati are rather amusing.
“Swami Laxmanananda was a leader of the VHP and was working to bring back Brahminism that was almost disappearing. He was supported by unscrupulous traders who were exploiting poor people,” Orissa TV, a local television channel, showed Panda as saying Sunday.
“Hindu organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are targeting minorities, mainly Christians, attacking them, killing them and burning their homes,” said Panda, secretary of the Orissa state committee of the CPI-Maoist.
Like his white-collared Communist party colleagues, he doesn’t care to define what Brahminism is. Never mind, other tidings beckon us. The fact-finding team of National Commission for Minorities, fresh from a visit to Karnataka has declared that “there is no evidence of even a single religious conversion in Karnataka…” Kudos to the speed and efficiency of the fact-finders in an age where it took more than a decade to announce the names of the perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. Now, we wonder whether the seers and Swamijis of various Hindu sects in Karnataka were out of their minds to petition the state government to stop conversions in the state.
Swamijis of about 30 Maths, who marched from Basaweshwara circle to Raj Bhavan, submitted a memorandum to the Governor Rameshwar Thakur, demanding that action be taken immediately to book those who indulged in disturbing peace and harmony in the society. The seers demanded a legislation to stop “forced conversions”.
Back to the Slimes. Its offspring in Bangalore is called the Bangalore Mirror, a full-blown, 40-pages-heavy page 3 tabloid that assaults us everyday. This paper, over the past 2 weeks has been running a rather innocent-sounding campaign on its front page. The theme: Jesus Saves and variations thereof. About 2 weeks ago, it featured a lady belonging to the Kuruba community (a backward community) who “forced a Priest” to convert her. Bangalore Mirror reported her saying that because of her prayers at the Church, she was cured of some incurable ailment. The report also added that her pleas for help from Hindu organizations/community leaders fell on deaf hears but Jesus healed her. In almost the same vein, today’s Slimes’ front page report carries a Gujarat-like photo of the nun who was allegedly raped. Remember the Gujarat riots poster boy? If the Slimes plays its cards well, this nun might well become the Orissa poster girl. Check it out. The photo is not particularly spectacular. What follows it is.
Entitled the “Times View,” it contains a “communal harmony” sermon. More significantly, it sounds like it is written by a pastor.
But when Christians are hacked to death and their homes and churches are torched, state governments have to be goaded to even take notice.
It reads less like a “view” than a judgement. We marvel at the Slimes’ coverage of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati’s murder.
Or is there something more than what meets the eye?