Ranjona Banerji: Outrage, anyone?

30 Jul,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji

 

There is a massive unacceptable intra-state border dispute between Assam and Mizoram. Apart from violence between citizens, Mizoram Police shot 5 Assam police personnel and one other person.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-57969157

 

I have intentionally linked a BBC article here.

 

Because you and I know that had Assam and Mizoram not been NDA-run states, had Union Home Minister Amit Shah not rushed there to settle the matter before the shooting incident took place, had Narendra Modi not been Prime Minister, this would have been the biggest news of the hour, every hour for the Indian mainstream media, especially television.

 

This an editorial from The Hindu, just for perspective that the matter is not being ignored:

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/dangerous-conflagration-the-hindu-editorial-on-assam-mizoram-border-clash/article35571185.ece

 

However, just think about it again. The editorial has lots of “dangerous” and “must ensure”. All over the media, there are references to tribalism and long-simmering border issues.

 

I put this to you: these are two Constitutional entities, standing off against each other and two police forces firing at each other. This is not a normal situation; this is not just dangerous and inflammable. This is disastrous and unacceptable. I’m stopping short of calling it the first steps to civil war.

 

Where is the outrage in the mainstream media?

 

Where indeed.

 

I give you this outrage from one of India’s best-known journalists and most successful editors, Shekhar Gupta, after the Assam government advised people not to travel to Mizoram. He tweeted: “A ‘travel advisory’ between two states of India has to be a first. And a particularly shameful first. The Centre should intervene and order this national embarrassment withdrawn.”

 

Strong words. I searched the tweet backwards, forwards, upside down, right way around but I could not find these words anywhere: Bharatiya Janata Party, National Democratic Alliance, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Masterstroke, Chanakya, best North East policy ever. If you can, please let me know. There’s a photo attached in case you think I misquoted the tweet. I must confess I was shocked to see “has to be a first”. This means the readymade excuse that the Congress or some other party did it first “so what could the poor helpless BJP under the strongest possible leader do” was not available.

 

Tragically, like the Rafale scam, like the Pegasus Project, like our horrendous losses during the pandemic, the mainstream media just somehow cannot bring itself to hold this government to account in a consistent and strong manner. To this day, the Modi government – regardless of which puppet is made which minister – has consistently and brazenly lied to us about vaccine procurement and availability. None of its sincerely made promises have been anything but ploys to win elections or shut us up.

 

Even if we assume that all governments lie (cue in somnolent music – Nehru did, Indira Gandhi did blah blah blah), these lies have been criminally negligent because of what the pandemic has done to the world and to us. But you know this. You also should know that less than 10 % of all Indians are double vaccinated. That all healthcare and essential services workers are not vaccinated yet. That less than 30 % of all eligible Indians are vaccinated. That we are still short of vaccines. Is this the main thing screamed about on all prime time debates, with fingers pointed at the Modi government?

 

When the history of these times is written – and it will be –run for cover if you’re a journalist. There will be no kindness.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal.

 

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