Thrilled by the pain of others!

22 Apr,2022

 

 

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Ranjona BanerjiThis is Navika Kumar of Times Now on Twitter on April 20, 2022. She has some fancy designation which is an insult to anyone else who has ever held that designation or aspires to it.

 

“Dramatic increase in demand for bulldozers. Are we increasing domestic capacity for manufacturing or will we have to depend on imports?? #JustAsking JJ”

 

The context: Properties in the national capital were destroyed by the municipal authorities. This was presented as part of what is called a “demolition drive” in the Indian media where encroachments and illegal buildings are brought down. However, this “drive” which has filled this Times Now “editor” with such glee, followed a complaint made by a BJP leader which was part of a new pattern in India. Create a communal situation and then accuse only Muslims of riots (started by Hindus) and then use demolition equipment – bulldozers, earthmovers – to destroy their homes and livelihoods.

 

The “drive” that Kumar enjoyed so much was stopped by the Supreme Court but officials of the BJP-run New Delhi Municipal Corporation continued with it as long as they could, in blatant contravention of an order from India’s apex court.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/supreme-court-stays-demolition-drive-in-jahangirpuri-for-two-weeks/articleshow/90973632.cms

 

The seriousness of the situation – part of the total breakdown of communal relations, of law and order, of Constitutional democracy being carried out the by the BJP-RSS in India – was better presented, obviously, in The Hindu and The Wire than in Navika Kumar’s sister publication The Times of India.

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/dangerous-deceptions-the-hindu-editorial-on-jahangirpuri-demolition-drive/article65342304.ece

https://thewire.in/government/jahangirpuri-demolitions-not-legitimate-anti-encroachment

 

What is Navika Kumar made of? If she ever was a journalist, then the facts of the case have not made it to her tweet. Nor has the basic tenet of questioning all official actions been fulfilled. And on the basis of humanity, of compassion? To have such joy in the prospect of people losing their lives and livelihoods?

 

Sadly, she is not the only one. Big names in the Hindi TV anchor world – Amish Devgan of News18 and Anjana Om Kashyap of AajTak – were equally thrilled at the devastation caused to the poor. Kashyap even jumped onto a bulldozer to get the experience of destruction first hand. Embedded “journalism” if you like.

 

There is a lot of anger amongst journalists over what The Times of India or the Bennett Coleman group has become. A bit like the way India’s public intellectuals continue to rail against the Congress party while applauding the fascist control of the BJP. The truth is that TOI has long been all things to all people. Under Girilal Jain, it was definitely leaning towards the Hindu right. It is an establishment paper, and for a while it was even run by the government because of ownership litigation.

 

However, having worked for TOI during one of India’s worst moments – the Gujarat riots of 2002 – I can emphatically state that in spite of all the pressure put on the newspaper by Narendra Modi, by Arun Jaitley and our own marketing department, the editors and owners supported our endeavours to report and comment on the terrible violence unleased on Muslims by RSS subsidiaries with the support of the state government. There are excellent, hardworking journalists within the group. But their voices are being muffled day by day.

 

And we now reach this moment where a senior editorial person does not just support the government but is thrilled by the pain of others. There has been no action against her yet so one can only assume her bosses share her excitement at the suffering of India’s poor.

 

The excuse made by the Jains about the “federal” nature of Bennett Coleman’s various media arms cannot hold under such circumstances. That is just shucking responsibility by pretending that you’re being tolerant and inclusive. Kumar was once made to apologise for abusing Rahul Gandhi on her TV show.

 

Frankly, this tweet is much, much worse. It demonstrates one more low in a long list of lows that Indian journalism now aspires to.

 

I shudder to think of the young people entering journalism inspired by Kumar’s sickening hatred of India’s people, India’s religious minorities and India’s Constitution.

 

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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