The coverage of the #TablighiJamaat congregation in Delhi—the shameless attempt to give the #Coronavirus outbreak a communal angle—was one of the more egregious examples of a majoritarian media that has lost its moral, social and professional moorings.
India’s brain-dead TV “news” channels, of course, led the pack, with “shows” titled Corona Jihad se desh bachao (save India from Corona jihad), and Dharm ke naam per jan leva adharm but newspapers, especially in the Hindi heartland, were not too far behind.
As one quantitative analysis showed, Dainik Jagran, a newspaper with close ties to the sangh parivar, ran an incredible 171 stories and pieces with the words “Tabhlighi Jamaat’, ‘Jamaat’, ‘Jamaati’, ‘Markaz’, and ‘Nizamuddin’ in its headline over a 15-day period”.
India Today advertised its bias with a disgraceful graphic.
The word “single-source” entered the media stylesheet to insinuate those who had attended the gathering in Delhi, although a bigger “single-source” contaminator—a pharmaceutical factory owned by the husband of Hindustan Times chairperson Shobhana Bhartia—was blithely ignored.
So, how is the media treating a Bombay High Court judgement that the foreign participants at the congregation had been made “scapegoats”? Dainik Jagran buried the court order on page 6.
Only three English newspapers—all of them not based in Delhi—have editorial comment: Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad, Deccan Herald in Bangalore, and The Telegraph in Calcutta.
Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad:
“This order of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC offers serious food for thought for both the government and the media of all hues. As COVID-19 started spreading all over India immediately after the meet a vilification campaign targeting its attendees, and the larger Muslim community, gained currency. Campaigns that the virus spread was part of a plan to destabilise India were carried not only on social media but the mass media as well. ‘Corona Jihad’ was the worst form of such campaigns.”
Deccan Herald, Bangalore:
“The order shows how baseless the slander and vilification campaign unleashed against the organisation and Muslims in general was. It also noted that there was “big propaganda” in print and electronic media against the foreign pilgrims.
“It was called ‘Corona Jihad‘ and was dubbed as part of a plan to endanger and destabilise the country. The central government repeatedly mentioned the Tablighi Jamaat as a source of the disease, and conventional and social media spread the canard, driven by malice and prejudice.
“It is now clear that the campaign against the Tablighis was wrong and motivated.”
The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“Most pertinent to these times is high court’s condemnation of the “big propaganda” of the media and representatives of the State accusing the visitors of spreading COVID-19.”