Draft to be revised
(Material submitted to the Editors Guild of India)
Union for Civil Liberties, Baroda and Shanti Abhiyan
Kunj Society, Karelibaug, Vadodara 390 018
Phone : 464210, 462328 Fax No: 340223
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
ROLE OF NEWSPAPERS DURING THE GUJARAT CARNAGE:
a brief analysis for the period Feb 28 to March 24, 2002
PUCL Vadodara and Shanti Abhiyan, Baroda
Gujarat has been ravaged by unprecedented violence since 27th February
sending shockwaves all over the country. The spell of genocide that followed
the Godhra massacre have seen newspapers playing a significant role in
the long spiral of violence. Shanti Abhiyan and PUCL (Peoples Union
For Civil Liberties), two Baroda-based organisations have been following
the vernacular press as well as the English newspapers to analyse news
reportage throughout this period.
The purpose of our analysis was to find out how the local press presented
the riots to the readers. We wished to examine if the print media has
in any way aggravated the relentless tensions in the city through inflammatory
or communal reportage. For this it was important to look at individual
newspapers and to also compare across newspapers. We have covered Gujarati
language newspapers like Sandesh (Baroda Edition), Gujarat Samachar
(Baroda Edition) and Gujarat Today. The Times of India and Indian Express
are the two English dailies that we have analysed here.
A framework of analysis was drawn up to ensure a standard evaluation of
all the newspapers we were scrutinising. The framework attempts to locate
all the factors that would influence the quality and content of reportage.
This in turn determines readership response to incidents being reported
nationally and locally. Additionally, it also helps to contain or conflagrate
communal tension and hostility.
Framework of Analysis in Brief
- Headlines: were
the headlines provocative or inflammatory?
where did they appear? what kinds of photographs are used?
- Language: has
the language been derogatory, offensive or biased?
- Sources: where
does the paper get its information from? are interviews referred to
or sources identified? who are the people interviewed?
- Rumours: are
the news reports substantiated?
- Editorials and
analytical articles: what are the perspectives offered to the readers?
- Incorrect reporting:
are there reports which we know to be false?
to this framework the newspapers we reviewed fall into different categories.
We present our findings vis-à-vis individual newspapers section-wise.
1.1 SANDESH, Baroda Edition
According to our above framework, the Gujarati newspaper Sandesh, Baroda
has crossed all limits of responsible journalism and has been at its inflammatory
best. While it is difficult to give an exact translation of the articles
and news reports that have appeared in the newspaper we have selected
a few reports and summarised them in Annexure. As
Shanti Abhiyan and PUCL have formed a few fact-finding teams, it has been
possible for us to compare facts unearthed during our field visits with
the news that has been reported.
The Annexure also contains brief analysis of individual
The major characteristic of Sandesh, in the period under review, has been
to feed on the prevalent anti-Muslim prejudices of its Hindu readership
and provoke it further by sensationalising, twisting, mangling and distorting
news or what passes for it. The average Hindu reader in Baroda feels that
he is getting value for money and real reportage.
Some characteristics of news articles, reports and editorials appearing
in the Sandesh:
uses headlines to provoke, communalise and terrorise people. On 28th
Feb 2002 the main headline says: 70 HINDUS BURNT ALIVE IN GODHRA.
Another report on the front page says: AVENGE BLOOD WITH BLOOD. This
is a quote from a statement issued by a VHP leader. Sandesh has simply
used his words as a headline.
In another instance on 6th March 2002 the headlines scream HINDUS
BEWARE: HAJ PILGRIMS RETURN WITH A DEADLY CONSPIRACY. In reality hundreds
of terrified and anxious Haj pilgrims returned accompanied with heavy
police escorts to homes that could have been razed to the ground.
Yet again on 8th March 2002 a news item with the headline WHEN MUSLIM
LEADERS SHOUTED SLOGANS LIKE HINDUSTAN ZINDABAD. The report
goes on to say that the Circuit House in Baroda witnessed an
unprecedented event when Muslim leaders of the city got together
to shout slogans like the above, and appeal for peace. The implication
being that Muslims are not patriots and are therefore not usually
prone to give such calls. However, given a situation where the community
was/is being decimated they decided to give in and proclaim their
patriotism. Muslims are consistently portrayed as anti-national as
is evident in several reports.
reports concerning the post-Godhra violence usually begin with a preceding
sentence namely that, In the continuing spiral of communal rioting
that broke out as a reaction to the demonic/barbaric etc., Godhra
incident........ The denunciatory adjectives used liberally
to describe the Godhra incident are strikingly absent in reporting
the subsequent genocide. This introductory statement reinforces an
hierarchy in the two sets of crimes that were/are being committed.
This hierarchy has been established by the VHP and even the Chief
Minister Narendra Modi when he justifies the genocide in Newtonian
terms. This calls into question the supposed objectivity of Sandesh
as a newspaper. Repetitive justification of the post-Godhra violence
serves to neutralise the horror and injustice of the subsequent violence.
are several instances of misreporting. We know for sure that the incident
in Macchipith reported on 16th March is ridden with falsity (see Annexure).
We enclose our own fact-finding report along with a transcription
of the Machhipith report in Sandesh. Similarly the incident of four
Muslim youth being picked up for carrying arms in a Tata Sumo singularly
misrepresents reality. Going by Sandesh reports it appears as though
the youths had a whole cache of arms in the vehicle. The truth is
that they had only one firearm and that the owner had a licence for
it. We can produce a copy of the complaint filed by the person in
question if need be. Likewise, there were misleading reports about
Tandalja which has a large Muslim population. It also houses the largest
relief camp giving shelter to more than 5000 people from the city
and nearby areas. Sandesh has been deliberately spreading false information
about the build up of tension and police action on the Muslims. Some
members of Shanti Abhiyan live there and we know for sure that there
is no tension there. In fact, on 18th March Sandesh was forced to
publish a refutation issued by Shanti Abhiyan members in response
to an article that there was tension in Tandalja. (See Annexure)
most horrific acts of violence are repeatedly sensationalised with
the use of a few devices. For example, large bold letters are used
as headlines particularly when referring to gruesome acts like the
burning alive of people. Photographs of burnt, mangled bodies are
a common feature on the front page or the last page which usually
carries local news (see Annexure). Most colour
photos have the color of red for blood accentuated in a gory, visual
fashion. Alternatively photographs of militant, trishul wielding karsevaks
are splashed across the front page. Both kinds of photographs serve
to instil fear or terror and to provoke intense passions and mutual
hostility between the two communities.
reporting the death count, red stars are used for sensationalised
and crude emphasis (see cuttings). For example, on 11th March 2002
headlines declared TENSION IN AYODHYA in large red letters.
After the Supreme Court delivered the judgement disallowing shiladaan
at Ayodhya, the newspaper proclaimed HEY RAM: THE SUPREME COURTS
REFUSAL in large letters splashed across the front page on 14th
March 2002. None of this can qualify as balanced or responsible reporting
at a time when the city and State was facing its most turbulent and
bloody period in recent history. In fact it instigates further violence
as amply proved by events that have occurred since.
Sandesh has effectively circumvented the code of conduct that disallows
naming of communities involved in the violent conflagrations. Scattered
across the newspaper there are numerous reports where mobs of
religious fanatics abducted tribal women and therefore had to
face the wrath of the people, or when rumours that religious
fanatics were about to attack a temple caused tension in certain
areas in Baroda city, which brought devotees out on the
street to protect their place of worship (see Annexure).
Areas in the city and State with a large population of Muslims are
described as mini-Pakistans, denoting both danger and
enemy thus creating grounds for the use of the most extreme violence.
Short of proclaiming Hinduism is in danger, Sandesh seems
to very effectively spreading and deepening a sectarian mindset in
a way that would do Hindutva votaries proud. However, this will not
help in normalising the situation or relations between communities.
selective usage of words and phrases serves to identify and further
communalise the minds of people. More significantly and often with
tragic consequences it also serves to denounce all Muslims as religious
fanatics and all Hindus as devotees. In doing so entire communities
are sought to be demonised or lionised disregarding the fact that
both communities are heterogeneous and cannot be stereotyped in this
manner. In addition, it also serves to justify, condone and valorise
any kind of violence against the victims of the post-Godhra riots
who are in overwhelmingly large measure impoverished Muslims across
the news items do not seem to have much concern about the veracity
of the facts presented. There is no attempt to qualify statements
or to name sources of information. On 7th March a report claims to
have discovered Godhras Karachi connection. The
connection being that an entire area in Karachi is named Godhra. There
is no attempt to authenticate the information. Even supposing it were
true how does Sandesh justify entire streets in New Jersey, US being
named after Indian leaders or Indian localities. This is a clear instance
of anti-minority bias being used this time to stoke fury and hatred
in the minds of Hindus.
on 1st March 2002 the headline of a news item claims that a mini-Pakistan
is in existence in the Navayard area of the city. The article goes
on to say that pockets are being created in the city and
instructs the police to take note of the reportedly criminal
U.P. migrant labourers who live in this area. Much mystery and terror
seems to surround the term pockets, almost as if a small
basti of Muslim migrants from UP who had their houses and hand carts
burnt by a mob of over 2000 was planning a grand conspiracy in their
pockets. The term pockets when combined with
the unauthenticated information about people with criminal records
living here, seems to suggest that it is a hideout of some sort which,
if not wiped out could create a law and order problem. That the basti,
(named Roshanpura) today lives in complete terror and has a huge question
over their livelihoods, is indeed a sign that such reports are feeding
into some larger machinery of which Sandesh is only a mouthpiece.
1st March 2002 again there is a news report that claims that all of
Sabarmati Express would have been put to flames had the train not
been delayed. The headline claims: A mob of 7-8 thousand was waiting
for the Sabarmati Express to arrive at Godhra. The mob was, needless
to say, a mob of religious fanatics. There is no attempt to name sources
or to substantiate this information. Given the reality that the facts
of the Godhra incident are yet to come out and that there are reports
about the misbehaviour and provocation of the karsevaks, such reporting
casts a doubt on the intentions of the newspaper. Even more seriously
when the police itself seems to be issuing contradictory statements
about an ISI hand and then ruling out the possibility of ISI involvement,
even castigating police officers responsible for issuing such statements,
this is irresponsible reporting at best and inflammatory at worst.
are some of the main features of the news coverage by Sandesh. The newspaper
clippings and our detailed note on the reports will further corroborate
these points. Sandeshs sale has reportedly fallen in recent times.
It is plausible that it has been resorting to sensational and irresponsible
reporting in a bid to boost sales. Whether this is true or not, Sandesh
has consciously sought to project a communalised version of events and
inflicted serious and long-term damage to a society already fragmented
along communal lines. It has been our experience that its Baroda readers
particularly Hindus frequently quote Sandesh reports to refute any arguments
in favour of moderation and restoration of communal harmony. We have found
that, over the past month of violence peoples own experiences in
their neighbourhoods as well as reports in the national media are often
relied on less than Sandeshs reports. This is indicative of the
influence that Sandesh has been able to wield in the present condition.
We doubt the intentions of such newspapers as their
coverage is deeply saffronised that it threatens to destroy all notions
of responsible and balanced reportage. Strict action needs to be taken
against such newspapers for flagrantly violating codes of journalistic
ethics and to make them accountable to society at large.
GUJARAT SAMACHAR, Baroda Edition
28th February 2002 to 28th March 2002.
Main report on page 1 on 28th March: 3-4 young girls have been kidnapped.
The source of information is not mentioned. Again on page 10 there is
a report of the VHP leader Kaushik Patel saying that 10 girls have been
kidnapped. The reporter has not cross-checked he information either with
the IGP or Railway police. The report does not give names of any of the
girls or any other details. One more report on page 2 gives details of
an eye witness Hetalben, when the train reached Baroda. She said, young
girls from Amaraiwadi travelling with us are lost.
Main report says that 4 bogies of the train were torched. The report says
that incident was pre-planned, based on information given by a railway
employee. Names or other identity of the source does not appear.
On 2nd March there is a report that Sandesh carried a bogus newsitem.
There is no news from shelter camps nor are there any interviews with
On 6th March the last page carries a report with the headline: THE PLAN
WAS TO TORCH THE WHOLE TRAIN, NOT JUST ONE BOGEY. In yet another box item
on last page a report states that a mob was ready for the second
attack. The source of the information is not mentioned. It seems
that the story is based on a conversation with some Railway Police Force
jawans. The way these reports have been presented is instigative. This
is the day when the top story on last page is about how gradually the
situation is returning to normalcy.
On 7th March the last page carries a newsitem presented in a box that
claims that ..ISI is creating trouble in Gujarat, Kalota and his
colleagues are important links, Dy. Commander of Huji arrested
in Calcutta has confessed the conspiracy . The report uses the term
Rambhakt several times for the travellers on board Sabarmati
Express on the fateful day
On 6th March the headline of a report says, Torching of the train
at Godhra was pre-planned. Kalotta was tipped by a railway officer how
to cut open the vacuum pipes. Source of information not mentioned.
Caption of a story on last page, 7th March: What was purpose of the youths
roaming in white Tata Sumo with 12 bore rifle in position. The sub heading
cries: They carried news clippings of the Godhra incident being pre-planned.
The report of the Chief Ministers visit to Baroda carries the caption
: Mysteries of the Godhra conspiracy are opening up slowly..
However, the story does not open up a single mystery. (Page 3,8-3-2)
Another newsitem presents a story in the first person singular form. A
girl who saved herself from the torched bogey narrates how she could do
.The mob tried to pull me out, but could not succeed
She adds firmly while sobbing, sacrifice and hard work put up by
my parents would not go waste. ( Last page,8-3-02)
Indiscriminate firing from Fatehganj Mosque: the headline of an 8 column
story on page 8 on 16th March.
Main accused Bilal Haji is described as SUTRADHAR even before
A report on 16th March describes incidents in Machchhipith as if only
Muslims were culprits. The headline claims private firing on Rambhakts
.The report goes onto describe the whole incident as a pre-planned attack.
Nowhere is it mentioned if the Ram Dhun procession was taken out with
police permission and what were the conditions laid out by police for
taking out such a procession. The role played by the mob in the procession
is not at all mentioned.
In a Sunday supplement, an article by Bhalchandra Jani justifies demand
for Ram Janmabhoomi temple.
Page 1 of 18th March carries a photograph of bombs recovered by police
during combing operations in Danilimda area of Ahemedabad. The caption
says: People talking of secularism should be asked if protecting criminals
On 20th March, three anti-Muslim stories have been published. Headings
run like this: Even in Pakistan madrassas are being controlled,
why not then in Gujarat? Order for removing loud speakers
from mosques. Anti-India Literature and cassettes recovered from Kheda
district. Illegal madrassas operating in Gujarat in the guise
of religion and educational activities.
A report on page 10 of 21st March reads: Mob of 1000 encircled LIC
building from all sides with a plan that mirrors Godhra This is
a 3 column 50 word story which repeats the phrase pre-planned like
Godhra five times. The story is highly exaggerated. Another story
just below this has similar qualities. It reads: Plan to torch 2
autorickshaws carrying 30 school children studying in English Medium school
in Modasa prevented by the police. This report too is exaggerated
Sat kaival temple receives threat: Sarsa temple and pathshala threatened
to be blown using remote control. The story seems to be exaggerated.
Possibility of weapon attack. Secret agencies receive information;
Religious and Educational institutions shall be targeted. All DSPs alerted.
report on p.2,24-03-02
Sabarmati Express incident was nothing but a pre-planned incident. Several
youths would be ready to commit crimes on just one signal from Bilal (last
Police out to nab Nisar, who has conspired to kill large numbers of people.
Headings and Layout
For first 3 days the reports start from above the title of the Newspaper.
Sub-heading of the report on p.2 reads: Women, who got down from
the bogey, after it was torched, were taken away i.e. kidnapped.
Photograph of a woman karsevak exhibiting a sword held in her hand while
travelling to Ayodhya from Jharkhand. (P.10,15-3-02)
Cartoon on page.10 on 16th March is inflammatory. (Copy attached)
Cartoon on editorial page is inflammatory. It describes Human Right Commission
as Danav Adhikar Sangh.
History of communal conflicts in Godhra. The story narrates incidents
Pro-Pakistan elements in Godhra have frequently created terror since 1927,
but Administration fails to wake up to this. (P.2,5th March) Terror
of fundamentalists in Godhara dates back to pre-independence era.(last
Muslims saved a Hindu shopkeepers shop in Halol ( P.5,2nd March).
Residents of Ram-Rahim tekra in Ahemedabad is an example of communal harmony
(p.1,5-3-02). Hindus saved life of a Muslim woman in Halol ( P.5,5th March).
No one wants riots. Rare scenes of communal harmony in sensitive areas
of city (Last page,6-3-2).
Elol village near Himmatnagar is an example of communal harmony (p.5,
A Muslim woman offered shelter to a Hindu family (P.3,7-3-2).
At Bhoj village in Padara taluka, Muslims were given shelter in a temple.
Oh! He is our Rahim Chacha
our guruji..and they saved him (P.11,10-3-02).
Article by Bhaven Kachchhi in Sunday supplement.
At Lilapir Dargah of Talaja, devotees include all- Hindus and Muslims.
A Muslim old woman saved from mob by a Hindu youth.(p.2,22-3-02).
A pregnant lady sent to Hospital by a Muslim youth taking risk of his
1.3 GUJARAT TODAY
Today is an eleven-year old Gujarati daily with a circulation of 70,000.
It is published by the Lokhit Prakashan Trust of Ahmedabad. The paper
was started by Muslim liberals and is probably the only daily which has
a large Muslim readership. The print quality of the paper is low. Photographs
are not very clear and there are no colour photographs. The paper carries
news from villages and district towns not generally covered by the mainstream
It is important to analyse the role played by Gujarat Today given that
it caters to the very section of people in Gujarat affected by the state-wide
violence following the Godhra incident and undoubtedly plays an important
role in giving information and building opinion among Muslims. In this
report we have covered the period from 28th February 2002 to 16th March
2002. One limitation in our analysis was that we were unable to access
the issues of 1-5 March, and also the first and last pages of 28 February.
Nonetheless, we feel that a broad picture emerges from our analysis which
is indicative of the editorial policy the paper has followed through the
critical situation faced by the Muslim community in Gujarat since 28 February.
1. Report on the Godhra Incident (28 February)
The paper reports that the karsewaks caught hold of some Muslim tea-vendors
at Godhra station and forced them to say 'Jai Shri Ram' which sparked
off the incident. This is also highlighted in a box on another page. The
paper, in contrast to the more temperate language of its later reports,
says that when the Sabarmati Express arrived at Vadodara station, ...'the
saffron mob of Bajrang Dal and VHP ran like dogs, attacking people with
their swords... the karsewaks got down from the train shouting slogans
like 'Har Har Mahadev, Bharat Mata ki Jai' and filthy abuses ...'Kill
Muslims, cut Muslims...' The paper also carried a report and photograph
of the Hindu youth Arun Paswan who was also attacked at Vadodara railway
What surprised us was that the editorial of the 28th focused exclusively
and in great detail on the railway budget announced the previous day.
There was no reference to the Godhra incident. Since we did not have the
entire paper of the 28th, we are unaware whether the incident was condemned
elsewhere in the issue of the 28th. However, we feel that an editorial
comment on the incident was due, and the editorial provided the most appropriate
space to project the paper's viewpoint on the incident.
The paper has been providing important and useful information for its
readers. Some of these are:
The paper has carried detailed investigative reports of the violence.
Some of these are:
- Details on conditions
of people in the relief camps, including issues of legal assistance,
marriages organised and deliveries of babies in the camps (6th March);
into the Naroda Patiya incident, with details relating to the procurement
of petrol, diesel and gas cylinders used for burning;
- Use of the inflammable
chemical 'Lakgel' for burning (8 March). This has not been reported
in any other paper.
Reports of Communal Harmony through the Violence
Most of the
space in the newspaper over the first two weeks was devoted to extensive
reportage on the carnage. However, space was made available every day
to profile incidents of communal harmony.
Given the terror, insecurity and alienation that Muslims in Gujarat felt
over those first few weeks of violence following Godhra, it is commendable
that Gujarat Today consciously sought to project the more humane side
of inter-community relationships to its Muslim readers through these reports.
For example, there was a report on how the lives and properties of 175
Muslims of Naroda in Ahmedabad were protected by the local shepherds;
how Hindu doctors of Bhavnagar saved properties from burning and made
efforts to treat
the injured; relief of foodgrain and clothes provided by Hindus to victims
in Jhagadia; and a group marriage of Hindu and Muslim youth in Mangrol.
Also reported was news of Prantij, where a woman sarpanch successfully
stopped riots occurring in her village. The March 8 edition gives news
related to peace committees in Vagra, Palej, Dholka and Bharuch. On 10th
March, the paper had a report on how Hindu families saved the lives of
15 Muslims in Kavitha village near Borsad. While there are reports of
Juhapura, where Hindus were saved by Muslims, there is also a report on
how looting of both Hindus and Muslims took place.
The 12th March issue carries news of a Hindu family of Dehgam who sheltered
20 Muslims in their house, and a boxed item on a relief camp in Bhalej
village, Kheda district, run by Hindus and Muslims. The 15th March issue
carries a report of how Muslim women saved the lives of Hindus. News of
unity among Hindus and Muslims of Lambadia and Sami are reported in other
issues of the paper.
5. Role of the Police
The paper has attempted to maintain a balanced perspective on the role
of the police over the first two and a half weeks of communal violence.
Maintenance of peace in Padra is attributed to the local police, while
the arrest of 28 Muslim youths in Vadodara is strongly criticised. There
is a report on Varnama where the police refused to entertain complaints
against specific individuals. However, the arrest of a VHP functionary
in Kutch is lauded.
6. Analytical and Editorial Reports
Barring the absence of editorial comment in the 28th February issue on
the previous days incident at Godhra, we feel that Gujarat Today
has maintained a good balance in its editorials and commentaries on the
Gujarat violence. These include several editorials reflecting concern
with the fall-out of the riots and how their effects might be mitigated.
The editorials over the editions surveyed did not always address the communal
riots/violence. Editorials on only five of the thirteen days were about
the violence in the state.
The paper has carried commentaries by prominent liberal intellectuals
and humanists of Gujarat, such as an article by Mahesh Dave which fearlessly
reprimands the government for its role in the riots (8th March), a translation
of a Siddharth Vardarajan article which had appeared in the TOI (9th March),
accounts by Indu Kumar Jani (in his Sunday column) of the kinds of materials
supplied to relief camps, and articles by Nagindas Sanghvi titled: India
will be destroyed not by the atom bomb but by superstition and communal
fanaticism (7th March) and Ram gave up Ayodhya and the throne,
but his followers are prepared to shed blood (16th March).
An interesting report we came across was based on interviews with older
people who had experienced the 1969 riots, the worst the state had previously
witnessed (8th March, p.7). The article concluded that the present riot
were worse than the 69 riots.
Based on a quick and by no means exhaustive analysis of coverage of the
riots by Gujarat Today from 28th February to 16th March, we feel that
the paper has, on the whole, managed to maintain a good balance in its
reporting, and has been fair and even-handed in its commentaries. This
is the more significant since Gujarat Today is a Muslim-owned paper which
is primarily read by Muslims. The paper has been restrained in its reporting
and its choice of visuals, temperate in its language and has eschewed
shrill and potentially
provocative matter. Where rumours were mentioned, they have been presented
as such and not captioned with misleading headlines, as was done by some
other newspapers. It has regularly carried items highlighting interdependence
of communities and incidents of help and co-operation extending across
community barriers. It has investigated incidents and carried detailed
information which did not appear in other newspapers, thereby providing
a useful service to its readers.
Overall, our analysis suggests that Gujarat Today has played a responsible
and positive role during the violence in the state, for which it deserves
to be commended.
2. THE ENGLISH PRESS
looked at the two English daily newspapers in circulation in Baroda
The Times of India (Ahmedabad edition) and the local supplement Baroda
Times, and the Indian Express (Vadodara), and its local supplement Vadodara
Newsline. While Baroda Times has generally been guided by a youth-and-entertainment
perspective , it has also, over the past year, carried several reports
on the local history of the city. Vadodara Newsline, on the other hand,
has been more local news-based.
Both papers, in our view, have been fairly balanced in their reporting.
In both cases, there appears to have been an editorial policy in place
explicitly directed towards non-sectarian and non-inflammatory coverage
of post-Godhra events in Baroda.
Incidents were not sensationalised by provocative headlines (as happened
in the case of some local Gujarati papers). In both cases, although communities
were named in many cases, no pejorative and inflammatory terms were used
as has been the case with Sandesh; rather the term mob was
The choice of photographs in both papers was sober. Both papers desisted
from showing dead/mutilated bodies, or close-ups of the injured. Photographs
have generally been of people in hospitals, areas under curfew, individuals
and families affected by the riots with accompanying interviews.
For the first 10 days after the Godhra incident, there were follow-up
stories, including investigative and analytical reports. On March 3, TOI
(p.3) carried interviews with a few relatives of victims of the Godhra
incident, some of whom counselled restraint while others urged revenge.
Both papers have referred to rumours, naming them as such, and not passing
them off as facts. However, sources of rumours and their effects on the
prevailing situation in localities have not been adequately investigated
by either paper.
Editorials in both papers have been critical of the violence and government
inaction/collusion of the state machinery.
Both papers carried a number of interviews with victims of particular
incidents of violence in Baroda, rather than relying exclusively on police
A number of articles featured examples of communal harmony and interdependence:
these include instances of Hindus helping Muslim neighbours; of affected
families in which there were intercommunity marriages; and profiles of
places of worship in Baroda which were venerated by both Muslims and Hindus.
While incidents in rural areas were reported, these were generally less
extensively covered and investigated
We feel that IEs Vadodara Newsline should be commended for its coverage
of incidents in the city, and TOIs Baroda Times for its attempts
to create through interviews and reports over the first two weeks
of the violence a sense of secular concern for the city.
We feel that, while the overall reporting has been by and large satisfactory,
there have been some shortcomings; perhaps some of these can be attributed
to the difficult situation and the constraints (including physical threats)
on reporting particularly by the English language press. Some of the areas/incidents
which have been poorly covered are: combing operations by the police,
which have been grossly biased against Muslims; police atrocities against
women (most of which also occurred during combing operations); conditions
in relief camps, and involvement of persons named by the people in various
IE has done a fairly intensive coverage of the riots through investigative
reports, analytical articles and editorials. However, there are two examples
which may considered to be in questionable taste: one was the headline
of March 24, which read Dial M for Modi, Murder?, and the
daily tally displayed on the first page over the first two weeks (?)which
was titled Modimeter.
Sandesh Headlines and Reports
1. 70 HINDUS BURNT ALIVE IN GODHRA.
EXPRESS BRINGING RAMSEVAKS FROM AYODHYA BURNT BY A VIOLENT MOB.
3. Photograph of burnt bogey and dead bodies with the caption: Peace In
Flames. Flaming attack by violent, anti-national elements, more than 60
Hindu brothers and sisters burnt alive.
4. AVENGE BLOOD WITH BLOOD. The headline is quotes the VHP leader from
Dholka Rajendra Shah who says that the Hindu samaj will have sharp
reactions to the killing of innocent ramsevaks. We will have to avenge
blood with blood, says Rajendra Shah.
1. THE DISTRICT COLLECTOR [of Godhra] SAID ONLY ONE THING: THIS IS THE
HANDIWORK OF ANTI SOCIAL ELEMENTS. THIS IS THE SORRY STATE OF THE ADMINISTRATION.
The Godhra District Collector is being criticised here for not attributing
the train massacre to Muslims, who are anti-national according to various
2. THE DEAD ARE NOT MERE RAM SEVAKS, THEY ARE THE HEIRS OF RANA PRATAP,
GURU GOVIND SINGH.
Analysis: The Ram Sevaks are being valorised here, and their lineage
being traced to Rana Pratap et al. On the whole Sandesh has conferred
upon the Ram Sevaks the status of martyrs, and has consistently referred
to the massacre as a balidaan, (sacrifice)
1. THE VICTIMS MASS MURDERS: 10-15 GIRLS WERE PULLED OUT BY RELIGIOUS
FANATICS: 10-The report says: 15 girls were dragged out of the Sabarmati
Express, this is being hotly discussed in Godhra. As a result there is
tension. The survivors of this incident also said this. The police is
also trying to look for this. These girls were trying to escape from the
train, police has denied it, but Kaushik Patel of VHP has accused.
2. MUSLIM LEADER PREVENTED THE FIRE ENGINE BY BRANDISHING AN OPEN SWORD.
The fire brigade learnt of the fire at nine o'clock and rushed to the
spot soon after. But at that very moment a local Muslim leader armed with
an open sword appeared and prevented the fire brigade from putting out
the fire. Other religious fanatics joined them and an atmosphere of communal
tension/discord spread in the entire Godhra city.
3. ABOUT 10 YOUNG GIRLS WERE PULLED OUT FROM THE RAILWAY CARRIAGE BY A
GROUP OF RELIGIOUS FANATICS. The newsitem goes on to refute the headline.
Analysis: What is the intention in having such headlines if not
to provoke? On 2nd March Gujarat Samachar another Gujarati newspaper said
that this report was false.
4. THIS IS THE UNHOLY ACT OF THOSE WHO WANT TO BREAK THE COURAGE OF KARSEVAKS:
1. Photographs of the Godhra carnage spread out over two pages. Centrefold.
2. News report with headline: 8-10 WOMEN DRAGGED INTO BASTI.
Analysis: The report says nothing about this incident except for
a passing reference in the last paragraph. Why have a headline as provocative
3. TERRORISM WITHIN THE BORDERS: IT HAS BEEN GOING ON IN GODHRA FOR YEARS.
1. DO THE TC, DRIVER, AND IN-CHARGE STATION MASTER [OF THE SABARMATI EXPRESS]
BELONG TO A CERTAIN COMMUNITY? Accusation by VHP. This made the situation
more tense in Godhra.
Analysis: This was basically a rumour that Sandesh has picked on
and sensationalise, adding to the tension in Godhra and elsewhere.
2.THE GODHRA INCIDENT IS REMINISCENT OF CHENGIZ KHANS ATROCITIES.
1. TODAYS RESOLVE: JINNAHS HEIRS IN GODHRA HAVE TO BE PUNISHED.
Article by Hari Desai.
The article purports to go back in history to Partition and the role Jinnah
played. It accuses Jinnah of threatening the minority community in Pakistan
to convert or face the ire of the State, a policy that is still being
followed. It also refers to how the minority community in Bangladesh is
being treated: Taslima Nasreen has written about the gang-rapes of minority
women there. Today in India after the burning of the Sabarmati Express
the issue is not that of the interests of the minority community here
or about Hindu liberalism. It is a
conspiracy against the nation. Those responsible for this repulsive act
have to be punished and exposed before the nation. The burning of the
train can only be seen as a well-planned strategy to destabilise Gujarat.
Some elements were not happy with the fact that Gujarat was free of communal
tension under the BJP. So these anti-nationals instigated Muslim against
the karsevaks who had gone to Ayodhya as part of the VHP programme for
construction of the Ram Mandir. The concluding paragraph says that Hindus
attacked, every action will have a reaction. The next few days will see
this. The last sentence is: For how long will we tolerate this?
1st March, 2002.
1. GUJARAT BURNS: CALL FOR BHARAT BANDH TODAY. 118 DEAD.
Comment: The headline is splashed across the page in large red
letters. A red star is drawn around the death count.
2. HORRIFIC REACTIONS TO THE GODHRA INCIDENT: MORE THAN 50 PERSONS BURNT
ALIVE. Many places of worship targeted. Numerous incidents of petrol and
3. 70 BURNT ALIVE IN CHAMANPURA, AHMEDABAD.
4. A CAR PASSING THROUGH KHEDIA VILLAGE NEAR KALOL WAS STOPPED BY A MOB,
A GIRL WAS ABDUCTED.
Analysis: None of these headlines choose to condemn this violence.
5. BURNT ALIVE IN DEROL, KALOL IN PANCHMAHALS. The report states: People
bent on avenging yesterdays mass murder burnt 6 men of a certain
Analysis: The avengers here are seen to be justified in their acts
of violence. There is no mention of letting the law take its course, no
censure against such acts of violence.
1. PAKISTANI NATIONAL ARRESTED BY RPF IN CHANCHALAV RAILWAY STATION. The
report says: Suspicion of Pakistani agency ISIs involvement in the
demonic Godhra incident.
1. A MASJID AND 3 FACTORIES BURNT IN ANKLESHWAR
1. STATION MASTER ALSO INVOLVED IN THE SENSATIONAL GODHRA MASSACRE.
1.THE GODHRA INCIDENT IS NOT COMMUNALISM IT IS THE BLACK SHADOW OF TERRORISM.
1. POCKETS OF MINI-PAKISTAN IN NAVAYARD. The report says that
pockets of a certain community are being created in Navayard.
The police ought to take note of this(!)
People from UP have settled here. They possess illegal ration cards and
could be criminals running from the law.
1. THE BODIES OF TWO HINDU GIRLS WHO WERE ABDUCTED FROM SABARMATI EXPRESS
FOUND NEAR KALOL IN A BAD CONDITION.
The report says the girls were raped and then cut up, sprayed with petrol
and the bodies were burnt. There is also talk about the body of a third
girl having been found: There is a limit to barbarity.
Analysis: This report is mischievous in the extreme because of
its explosive content and because there no attempt to verify this, no
sources have been quoted. This report was later denounced as false by
Gujarat Samachar, another Gujarati daily.
Sandesh does not see fit to speak of the limits of violence being
inflicted on the Muslim community throughout the State. While the mob
in Godhra is demonic, diabolical, evil
the violence perpetrated on thousands of innocent Muslims in Panchmahals
is not condemned. Unverified newsreports of this sort are provocative
in the extreme and can instigate further violence.
1. RELIGIOUS FANATICS STAGE ARMED ATTACK ON WAGHODIA ROAD.
The report says that a group of armed religious fanatics attacked Chandranagar
on Waghodia Road. The air was rent with cries of women and children. A
group of youths from a neighbouring locality intervened. But for that
there would have been a second Godhra.
Analysis: The report is provocative in the extreme and stokes hostility.
No sources are quoted. If an incident was indeed averted why is it that
the newspaper sees fit to report something like this in such a blatantly
communal manner? Throughout the report there are assumptions about the
murderous intention of the crowd of religious fanatics and
the alacrity with which Hindu youths prevented this. There are doubts
about the veracity of this incident.
2nd March, 2002
Front page, top right
1. Photograph of burnt, mangled bodies. Provocative in the extreme.
2. RIOTS IN AHMEDABAD UNCONTROLLABLE. 250 give up their lives in uninterrupted
violence. The people who died were killed, why should Sandesh seek to
3. ADIVASIS ON THE WARPATH AFTER FUNDAMENTALISTS/FANATICS ABDUCT AND MURDER
The report says a religious place was attacked and people cut to pieces
in Pandarva village.
Analysis: Muslims being seen as fanatics. The report justifies
the tribal attack on the religious place. There is no substantive reporting
of abduction or murder of adivasi girls, this is just a piece of information
loosely inserted into the report. There are no mention of sources, nothing
about where and how the information was received.
4. PAKISTAN IS NOTHING BEFORE INDIA. IF INDIA SO DECIDES THERE WILL BE
NO SIGN OF PAKISTAN: FERNANDES.
1. PERHAPS THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF COMMUNAL VIOLENCE [IN BARODA]:
4 factories burnt in Sardar Estate by an unruly mob. Destruction worth
lakhs of rupees. Flames engulfed the factories burned for 6-7 hours.
2. ATTEMPT TO BURN CHANCHALAV RAILWAY STATION NEAR GODHRA. The report
says that a mob of religious fanatics started fires near the Chanchalav
railway station to free a Pakistani citizen.
Analysis: No sources quoted, no verification.
1. JALARAM TEMPLE IN CITY TO BE ATTACKED: RUMOURS CAUSE DEVOTEES TO GATHER
HERE. The report says that hundreds of devotees gathered at
the famous Jalaram temple in Karelibaug after hearing rumours that it
would be attacked by religious fundamentalists.
. BAPUNAGAR REELS UNDER BLIND PRIVATE FIRING ALL DAY. IF YOU DO NOT KILL
THE ENEMY THEY WILL KILL YOU. Agar tum ne dushman ko nahi mara to woh
tumhe mar dega (written in Hindi).
Analysis: Extremely provocative: aggressive Hindu posturing. This
kind of a headline breeds and instigates further violence.
2. Photographs on the last page of burnt bodies.
3rd March, 2002
1. Photographs with caption: Bodies burnt in Mehsana.
Analysis: This set of photographs are in bad taste and is extremely
1. 72 HOURS AFTER THE GODHRA MASSACRE VADODARA DISTRICT IN FLAMES. A mob
of 700 mob attacked a religious place in Sakheda village and burnt two
Analysis: Mob here does not say religious fanatics, so
presumably this is a Hindu mob.
1. IT IS SAID THAT IN THE SOME NAR PISCHACHIS (demons) INVOLVED
IN THE GODHRA MASSACRE ARE SEEKING SHELTER IN TULSIWADI AREA. Another
issue being discussed hotly is that there is a posse of arms hidden in
the nooks and crannies in the portion of the Vishwamitri river valley
that passes by Tulsiwadi.
Analysis: This entire article is based on rumours and in fact gives
substance to them. Very provocative and instigates violence.
1. A FRENZIED MOB WITH A FUNERAL PROCESSION OF ONE RAJU BARIA IN SAVLI
VILLAGE WHO DIED IN FIRING ATTACKED SHOPS, HOUSES, CABINS. The report
says: the mob was shouting slogans like, Rajubhai Amar raho,
Rajubhai hum Ayodhya jayenge, Rammandir banega.
Analysis: Why print such slogans in an already explosive situation?
The intentions of the newspaper are questionable.
1. Photographs of bodies.
Analysis: Both sets of photographs are disturbing in the extreme
instigation fear, terror and communal anger.
5th March 2002
1. A report says that those who burnt a 17 year old alive wore a
Analysis: The implication here is that it was a Muslim who committed
the act. In an atmosphere so vitiated by communal passions this detail
has been deliberately added to stoke communal hostility.
1. PAKISTANS' EFFORT TO INSTIGATE RIOTS IN INDIA UNDER THE NAME OF OPERATION.
Pakistan's military rulers want to use Indian citizens in their devious
plot to fan communal tension here.
Analysis: Completely unsubstantiated and provocative in the extreme.
1. MEHSANA'S MOULVI GIVES A CALL TO: FACE THE KAFIRS, FINISH
THEM, ALLAH HO AKBARIN ASHAPURI IN NAVAYARD.
Analysis: The Moulvi in question is from Kota, not Mehsana and
the call he gave from the loudspeaker was a warning that the basti was
to be attacked and that women and children should seek the shelter of
the house. The loudspeaker has been since confiscated and it is the sound
of aartis from the neighbouring Hindu basti that prevails
in the mornings and evenings today. These are facts that PUCL and Shanti
Abhiyan teams have found out after visits to the area. Sandesh has indulged
in wilful mis-reporting and the news item is riddled with factual errors.
This puts into question the veracity of Sandesh reportage.
6th March, 2002
1. HINDUS BEWARE: HAJ PILGRIMS RETURN WITH DEADLY PLANS TO ATTACK.
7th March, 2002
1. NOT JUST PEACE: RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE NECESSARY: THE GODHRA MASSACRE:
The report says even if the karsevaks travelling the train were shouting
provocative slogans they should not have been burnt like this. Peoples
anger exploded, it is but natural. Every action has a reaction. This is
a natural thing. If we talk about the police, after all the police are
a part of society. For how long will they remain aloof from popular sentiment?
What can 5-10 police men do to control frenzied mobs o f 500.
1. GODHRA: THE MINI-PAKISTANS KARACHI CONNECTION. Report claims
that Karachi has an entire area named Godhra.
8th March 2002.
1. THE VHP IS SOFT ON THE MANDIR ISSUE, BUT MUSLIMS ARE STILL ANGRY. (VHP
naram to Muslim garam)
2. WHEN MUSLIM LEADERS SHOUTED SLOGANS LIKE HINDUSTAN ZINDABAD.
The report goes on to say that the Circuit House in Baroda witnessed an
unprecedented event when Muslim leaders of the city got together to shout
slogans like the above, and appeal for peace.
9th March, 2002
1. MOBSTERS STILL DO NOT LIKE PEACE? News report with a photograph of
a dead calfs head in a plastic bag. The news report asks: Who has
done it? The report goes on to say that it was a dog that had dragged
the body of the calf into a street.
Analysis: What was the intention of the newspaper in splashing
a photograph like this on the front page? Was it to deliberately foment
1. 4 YOUTHS WITH RIFLES ESCAPED IN A TATA SUMO FROM THE CURFEW RIDDEN
FATEHPURA AREA. The report goes on to say that these youngsters then made
calls on their mobile phone to Calcutta, Bombay, Bangalore after reaching
2. PRIME ACCUSED IN THE GODHRA CARNAGE IS HIDING IN BOMBAY AND WAITING
TO ESCAPE ABROAD.
Analysis: When there is such tension and at such sensitive moments,
printing headlines without much verification points to dubious intentions.
1. A report tells the readers that in 1948 people from Pakistan set the
Tricolour on fire in Godhras Iqbal High School. A teacher who shouted
Vande Materam was thrown out of the school.
Analysis: The only objective of recalling and re-printing this
kind of information at a time like this is to fuel the fire.
15th March 2002
1. DHARMAYUDH IN AYODHYA.
The report starts with an assertion that, there will be a dharama
yudh in Ayodhya between bhakti and shakti.
2. Parmahans threat to commit suicide appears four times on the
OF PUJA ON ALL MANDIRS ON 67 ACRES DISPUTED LAND
Analysis: There could have given a less inflammatory headline.
1. 4 ARMED YOUTH CAUGHT IN THE SENSATIONAL TATA SUMO CASE RELEASED ON
5 DAYS REMAND.
Analysis: There are no such reports about Hindus being arrested.
1. There is a tiny news item in corner about a meeting on communal harmony
in Rustompura village.
1. Banner headline: IN THE NAME OF SHELTER MIGRANTS FROM OTHER VILLAGES
ENTER CITY. The report warns that moves to set up Muslim colonies overnight
on Municipal Corporation land in Tandalja, Wadi, Akota. It also says that
victims of riots from nearby villages in Vadodara who have come here,
some Muslim leaders have used their political connections to set up illegal
colonies on Corporation land. Information about dangerous activities have
come to the fore in these colonies. The VMC also knows about this. Rehabilitation
is only an excuse.
Analysis: The truth is that these are relief camps where terrified
Muslim victims have taken shelter. The anti-Muslim bias of the newspaper
is in full and virulent display when it purports to expose the dangerous
activities that are going on in these relief camps.
2. SADHUS DEMONSTRATE IN FRONT OF VMC OVER THE POSSIBILITY OF MUTTON SHOPS
COMING UP IN FRONT OF THE ISKON TEMPLE. The report says Hindu religiosity
will be instigated if this is not stopped and an Andolan will begin. In
a box in the same article it says, sadhus chanting of Hare Krishna,
Hare Rama transformed the Municipal Corporation into a religious
spot. A footnote says, the Municipal Commissioner and Mayor faced
the blazing question of the sadhus...What if a masjid is built in front
the mandir? There is constant reference to Hindu citizens and Hindu devotees.
1. The editorial compares the VHP and RSS. The RSS is much stronger than
VHP. If the Mandir Andolan has to be carried on properly and with a long
term perspective then it is not possible without the support of the RSS.
The VHP accepts this.
2. THE SC JUDGEMENT ANGERS HINDUS: TALK OF THE TOWN. Will
there be a 1992 action replay in Ayodhya today? In box: The government
allows Muslims to read namaz during office hours and Hindus are prohibited
from performing puja.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN AYODHYA TODAY? CITIZENS IN SUSPENDED LIMBO.
Analysis: The headline makes to create anxiety and terror.
16th March 2002
HOLI OF VIOLENCE IN BARODA. Large red letters. Written with death count
and number of injured in large numbers. The entire page is filled with
news about violence in Baroda, and the Ayodhya issue.
Analysis: The headline almost jubilantly proclaims the violence that
claimed the city on 15th March 2002
2. Ramdhun programmes highlighted in various parts of the district. Muslims
had already finished their namaz before the Ramdhun began.
Analysis: No mention of Muslim fears. They have inserted this bit
of information to sensationalise the reading of the namaz. In an atmosphere
of such violence the newspaper could have easily exercised restraint.
The Ram Dhun programmes are almost posed as a victory.
1. VIOLENT MOB RAZES DARGAH NEAR SAYAJI HOSPITAL. The report has two photographs:
one of policemen surrounding the razed dargah, and another of Hanuman
idols installed there. The report stresses that the dargah was razed as
a result of the private firing in the Macchipith area of the
2. MACCHIPITH VIOLENCE LEADS TO A MOB LOOTING AND SETTING FIRE TO SHOPS
NEAR NATRAJ CINEMA.
Analysis: The violence in Macchipith is now being used to justify
the orgy of violence that followed much like the way in which Godhra has
been consistently used to justify the genocide.
3. STONE PELTING ON THOSE GOING TO GIVE CONDOLENCES TO THE PEOPLE KILLED
IN THE GODHRA MASSACRE IN BALASINOR. 3 Hindu youths stabbed.
Analysis: Mention of Hindu youth, there is never such mention when
Muslims are stabbed or attacked. This is designed to deliberately stoke
1. RAMDHUN IN RAMESHWAR MANDIR. THOUSANDS OF DEVOTEES PARTICIPATE.
Analysis: Once more there is glorification of the Ram Dhun programme.
Hindus as devotees as compared to Muslims as fanatics
1. MUSLIMS ATTACK RANAVAS IN KADIYAWAD, DABHOI.
Inset box: Why did a kerosene tanker go to a Muslim area before the attack
on the Ranawas, ask the residents of Dabhoi. The report says that a kerosene
tanker went into Kadiawad area and kerosene was distributed in the area.
Analysis: What is the intention of this news item? It is a routine matter
that kerosene tankers go into all residential areas. Kerosene is the main
fuel for household purposes. There is a deliberate slant here meant to
2. YOU HAVE PLAYED YOUR ONE DAY MATCH, WE WILL NOW PLAY A 5 DAY
MATCH. Two communities on warpath in Wadi, one of the communities
threatened the other saying this. Analysis: Why is such a threat being
highlighted? The CM Narendra Modi is also said to have made references
to cricket matches in another context. Does this mean that Hindus threatened
the Muslim promising to wreck havoc? The headline is instigative.
Photographs all over the page. One of them has a congratulatory caption
that says: women chanting the ramdhun.
1. Box in article: THE SACRIFICE AND STRUGGLE FOR THE RAMJANMABOOMI. The
article gives a history of the Ram Janmabhoomi struggle in
which 3 lakh Hindus have died since the 15th century.
Analysis: Dubious. There is no mention of sources. The article
is meant to foment trouble.
1. RSS STATEMENT: WE HAVE NO RELATIONS WITH BJP. The post-Godhra violence
was a natural reaction of the Hindus.
Analysis: Constant reiteration of post-Godhra violence as a reaction.
1. YOUTH FROM VASNA MERCILESSLY ATTACKED IN JUHAPURA. The report describes
how a mob came into Juhapura. This man was returning from work and he
was surrounded and attacked. In the meantime a jeep entered the lane,
saw the mob and sped straight into the mob dispersing it. The driver rescued
the youth and made off from there.
Analysis: This is a positive incident where the man was rescued
by the jeep driver at great risk. The article and the headline chooses
instead to highlight the attack rather than the rescue.
1. HEADLINE: ANGRY MUSLIMS FIRE ON AND ATTACK RAMSHOBHA YATRA. What happened
in Macchhipith that caused the city to burn?
The report says: In the afternoon the city was infused with spirit of
Ram. Women, children and youth burst into the main roads, Ram had suffused
the city. At a time like this the entire city was plunged into violence
because of the attack by the fanatics of Macchipith. When a shobha yatra
emerged in the Raopura area in the afternoon chanting Ramdhun, people
were dancing and chanting Ram. Everybody was immersed in devotional sprit.
The police was also present. The shobha yatra reached the Macchipith crossing.
manjiras were played.
At Suryanarayan Baug an acid bulb shot out from a rooftop in Macchipith.
The ram bhakts of the shobha yatra looked towards Macchipith to see where
the acid bombs were comming from. And an armed mob was spotted. They had
swords and were shouting. The women in the shobha yatra ran in panic.
The youth ran towards the police. But by then a shower of acid bulbs was
raining down from not one but five rooftops in Macchipith. There was the
armed mob down on the streets and up on the rooftops were acid bulbs raining
Violence disrupts bhakti ras (the spirit of devotion) and mobs face each
other. The Macchipith mob comes forward taking advantage of the coverage
fire of acid bulbs from the rooftops. Stones, bottles rain down
from the sky and the police is surprised. The violent Macchipith mob comes
on to the street. Before the people and police understand what is happening
the notorious elements of this area, namely Nooru Mistry, Ayub Clubwala
and Ysuf Kadia start private firing. One the one hand was the covering
stone throwing from the rooftops and on the other was the mob was on the
road. The police was outnumbered. There was panic. The violent mob was
ready to attack the people on the road. 8-10 peple could have died but
the police came right on time and fired.
Analysis: The entire city was terrorised, not suffused with the
spirit of devotion. The Ram dhun programme was part of an aggressive call
given by the VHP, it was not a show of intense devotion. Such shobha yatras
have caused terror and fear throughout the city. Going by Sandesh reporting,
it seems as though a city immersed in Ram was attacked. The events that
unfolded in Macchipith actually followed a very different sequence. Our
separate report clarifies this in greater detail.
1. WAS THE MACCHIPITH MOB ATTACK PRE-PLANNED?
Analysis: To our knowledge no mob attack takes place without planning.
Sandesh has chosen to pick on this one because it concerns a minority
dominated area of the city.
2. PRIVATE FIRING OF MUSLIMS FROM BOTH MASJIDS IN SADAR BAZAR, FATEHGANJ.
The report says that two groups clashed and after a pitched battle there
was private firing.
Analysis: The headline is misleading. In Fatehganj Muslim families
were attacked and their shops burnt.
17th March 2002
1. RESIDENTS OF RANAWAS, DABHOI ANGRY. THE ADIMINSTRATION IS RUNNING
AROUND FOR MUSLIMS, BUT NOBODY HAS COME TO WIPE OUR TEARS.
Analysis: The truth of the matter is that the administration has
hardly done anything for the Muslims. We have enough facts to prove that
reality is quite contrary to this claim. By highlighting such grouses
and by not balancing it with stories from relief camps or Muslim bastis,
Sandesh reveals its inherent communal biases.
1. RAMMANDIR WILL BE BUILT EVEN IF WE HAVE TO USE FORCE: PARAMAHANS.
Analysis: All RSS and VHP statements are given pride of place in
Sandesh. Appeals for peace, instance of Hindus and Muslims protecting
each other are given short shrift.
1. THE MUSLIMS OF HATHIKHANA, MITHAFALIA ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE HANUMAN
MANDIR. The report says that Muslim gave a call to cut the Hindus,
break the mandir and make a dargah....
Analysis: The report fails to substantiate their claims. There
is reason to doubt the veracity of the information contained in the report
1. Even after Godhra, Dabhoi had remained peaceful. This was disrupted
by Muslims fanatics. Residents of Ranawas demand immediate arrest of anti-national
Analysis: Muslims consistently being portrayed as anti-national.
They cannot be mere anti-social elements as stated by the Godhra District
Collector Jayanti Ravi.
18th March 2002.
1. VIOLENT CONVULSIONS IN VADODARA AGAIN. 3 DEAD. Banner headlines in
large, red letters.
2. Top right: close-ups of corpses.
Analysis: Both newsreport and photographs designed to sensationalise
gruesome incidents of violence.
1. FANATIC MOB OF MUSLIMS FROM BAWAMANPURA TRIED TO BURN HARISH PETROL
Analysis: Muslims being portrayed as fanatics once again.
1. TANDALJA TENSE AFTER RUMOURS SPREAD. The report says that the rumours
spread in the area and there was panic. Once people realised it became
quite peaceful. Representatives of Shanti Abhiyan say that it is untrue
that there was private firing or that police had burst teargas shells.
Nothing has happened in Tandalja, but some people are interested in fomenting
1. Photographs of those injured and dead.
1. Newsplus, a regular column. Inset box: There are Muslim dominated areas
in various parts of the country. Here, during communal riots Hindus have
to bear the consequences. In Gujarat, Godhra stands out during communal
riots, but there are echoes of Godhra in other pockets too.
Those who stand to gain in one place must remember that they will lose
out in ten other areas. That is inevitable. Now there is a general understanding
that those who live in water will stand to lose if they are hostile to
Analysis: This is the broader perspective that Sandesh
offers its readers. Offensive, anti-minority posturing is routine in the
analytical articles. This article serves almost as a mouthpiece of the
RSS when it issues a warning to the minority community to behave or face
19th March 2002
1. SAI MANDIR AND THE HINDU AREA IN TULSI WADI UNDER VIOLENT ATTACK BY
MUSLIMS. Mobs of 5000-7000 attacked the area according to report.
Analysis: Gross exaggeration of the numbers, deliberately done.
20th March 2002
1. 70 HINDUS WERE BURNT ALIVE IN GODHRA AND THE RIOTS IN SHEHAR LEFT 44
DEAD. 16 BODIES HAVE YET TO BE IDENTIFIED. The report is basically about
an appeal by the administration for help in identifying relatives or kin
of the 16 dead. This crucial detail is mentioned only in the last paragraph.
Analysis: The deliberate formulation of sensationalised headlines
are meant to terrorise or communalise an already divided society. Even
an appeal by the administration becomes an excuse to indulge in terror-mongering.
2. SHANTI SAMITI TRIES TO MAINTAIN PEACE. The newsitem is tucked away
in small corner of the page.
Analysis: Sandesh obviously has its priorities all set out
very clearly. News like this can encourage other such attempts to maintain
peace but that does not seem to be on the Sandesh agenda.
1. Photographs of weapons and broken temples.
21st March 2002
1. SUDANESE YOUTH CAUGHT IN FATEHGANJ. DOES HE HAVE AN ISI CONNECTION?
The report says that residents have complained of private firing by him.
His ISI connection is being explored says the report. The police found
an iron pipe in combing operations in his house.
Analysis: The fact of the matter is that the Sudanese national
is a student in the M.S. University. He lives in a room above the masjid
in Fatehganj. He was reading the namaz when violence began there. He was
arrested and it was only when the Embassy intervened that he was released.
Why has Sandesh not reported this and instead made claims about his ISI
1. Photographs: Dead bodies in Bharuch, all close ups.
23rd March 2002
1. Close ups of dead/injured.
2. THE NAKED DANCE OF VIOLENCE IN VADODARA. Headlines in large red letters.
1. 3 DIE NEAR FATEHPURA LAL AKHADA. ARE THE TWO MUSLIM POLICEMEN POSTED
AT THE POLICE POINT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?
When Muslims were at fault names were taken, perpetrators were clearly
identified. When Muslims were the victims of murderers, arsonists, looters,
etc. then it has not been clearly stated who attacked whom. No sources
have been quoted for headlines, even when they have simply been lifted
from speeches by VHP leaders. Headlines are also misleading, and often
followed up by reports that do not substantiate headlines. Photographs
are meant to incite communal anger, fear and terror amongst people. The
anti-minority stand is obvious in the slant in news reporting. Editorials
and newsitems often written in a way that implicitly and explicitly justifies
carnage after the Godhra incident.
brief note on electronic media in Baroda
Local TV Channels
14 a group of PUCL representatives told the Police Commissioner that TV
Channels need to be warned. We tried to obtain copies of the offensive
tapes before the NHRC visit, were not given those. The Police Commissioner
gave a notice to the local channels, they were also off the air for two
days but then were back again and going about their work with a vengeance.
In the last week of March, owners of two TV channels were arrested, VNM
and News Plus, when in fact the other two channels, J TV and Deep were
Given below are some samples of the inflammatory stance of the channels.
Dave’s (VHP ) statement that we will retaliate with violence and
create history (in relation to Godhra incident)
Feb. 27 for more than a week
repeating images of the Godhra incident many times a day, thereby
attempting to create feelings of outrage among Hindus.
man on the street said how Hindus want Ram Mandir. We are beginning
an andolan today which we will stop after we achieve our
rally after shila daan . 3 local leaders Deepak Kharchikar
(Shiv Sena), Niraj Jain (Bajrang Dal), Ajay Dave (VHP) gave speeches
and interviews at the Machhipeeth naka. These contained anti-Muslim
sentiments. ‘Muslims will have to live the way we want otherwise
we will pull them out of their houses and kill them’.
or News Plus
Joshi ‘we will be training Hindu youth to be ladayak ( warriors,
or News Cable
said ‘like Hirankashap destroyed evil, we will also destroy deshdrohis’.
Samples of fan mail at www.narendramodi.org.
CM of Gujarat is proud of being email and internet savvy and he has often
let it be known that he has a website. Given below are some samples from
his website aimed at cynical self-promotion. If there is any need for
proof of his anti-Muslim, and therefore unconstitutional attitudes
they are here at this site. Legal action against Modi as well as the
site hosts seems to be in order.
Dear modi ji, you are like a god to us. thank you for saving Hindus.
but you are not doing enough. we will not be satisfied until you send
your sena out to Muslim countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan to rape
Muslim women kill and burn Muslims. thank you rakesh kumar trivedi
SIR, I FAIL TO FIND WORDS TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO YOU FOR THE WAY
HINDUS HAVE BEEN PROTECTED IN THIS STATE
DESPITE ALL THE CRITICISMS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. YOU HAVE ENDEARED
YOURSELF TO ALL THE GUJARATIS. THE WHOLE STATE IS SOLIDLY BEHIND YOU.
HATS OFF TO "ASLI MARD" !!! p.j.desai email@example.com
of thanks for all that u have done to us. We (Hindus) were a victim
of Islamic violence since long."
Dearest Modi sir, Lots of thanks for all that u have done to us.
We (Hindus) were a victim of Islamic violence since long. I remember
killing of Hindu pilgrims in VaishnoDevi, Amaranth and in almost
allover India innocent Hindus were killed by Muslims only on the
name of religion and jihad. The entire underworld is run by Muslims.
It is very sad that in spite of all these years of Muslim terrorism,
some of our leaders still support the Muslims only to get their
votes (Congress for e.g.). The opposition should realize that its
duty is not just to oppose every decision of the govt but to also
support the Govt in the interest of the nation. In such a situation
you have taken all the courage to stand against the Muslims and
give justice to the majority, you really deserve to be thanked.
Come to our city and u'll realize that people are virtually worshiping
you. I understand that the stand you are taking is a difficult one,
and i also know that there will be even some Hindus too who will
dislike you are stand, but a vast majority is with you and love
you. Pls continue and don't bother about those critics, we will
make sure that you remain the CM forever. Thanks a lot once again.
I wish there were few more Narendra Modis in this country... --Rupal
very fact that anti-national elements were effectively paid back during
hit tenure is reason enough for us to salute him" - Vishal Patel
(A student in Ahmedabad)
Modiji, We are proud of you for maintaining Gujarat so well. Please
don't get shaken by the critics, we Hindus all over the world love
you so much and we will pray for you always. Thanks and take care"
- Shreeenivas Gadi
- "It's ploy
to tarnish CM's image through 2nd phase of riots sponsorship' -
Sir, We are really pleased by your excellent handling of the riot
situation in Gujarat. The English press supported by power-hungry
congressmen are out to tarnish your image & that of the powerful
Hindu samaj. These people are very few in numbers & the majority
of us openly support you & your dynamic handling of the situation.
of Pamphlets Being Circulated
of ‘Besna’ of one of the Godhra victims
obituary seeks to make a martyr of on of the victims of the Godhra
tragedy, reminding everyone of his sacrifice
in the name of a “true Hindu patriot” this one urges all Hindus
to boycott the entire Muslim population in all possible ways – some
of the suggestions include not hiring them, or working for them
in their establishments, not buying from, or selling to them; not
watching films in which Muslim actors/actresses have worked. If
they fail to do so they are threatened in the name of Hanuman and
the absurdity of the economic boycott
2-page note pointing out that economic sleight of hand or criminal
misconduct is not confined to any particular community.
of “Hindustan Zindabad” go along with slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”.
It aims at coaxing Hindus to stop bearing “Muslim atrocities” that
they have been inflicting on Hindus since long. Its time to rise
up against them. This one is signed in the name of Paramhans
R.S.S. highly confidential letter.
is the most vicious of them all: it lists 34 ways in which they
aim to harm/kill/isolate all the minorities – some of these methods
include, injecting their newborns with slow poisons by enlisting
Hindus doctors, accumulating arms, boycott all secular programmes,
encourage the use of alchohol and drugs in areas dominated by the
minorities. It also says that such activities should be reported
to the office in Nagpur, where they can also obtain further information
if they require it.
and Sikhs Beware!” dated 13 April 2001
appeal to Muslim youth to volunteer to “entice” heathen girls (‘kafirs’)
decision regarding “Quran”
order passed by a Metropolitan judge – A booklet including a judgement
in a Delhi court, misquoting Vivekanand, Quran, Shri Aurobindo and
M.K. Gandhi in the wrong context to suit their objectives. In order
to avoid the rectified stand of these great people they have not
indicated the timings of their statement. This is being misused
as propaganda against the minority.
utterly profane piece critical of Muslims and valorising Narendra
Modi for his “great deeds.”
Hone wale Marhum Musalmanon ki Aaho Pukaar
self critical piece attributing the present sorry state of Muslims
to not living by true Islamic edicts. Which includes Muslim haves
not sharing their bit with have nots by not paying the correct
Zakaat, not keeping fast as prescribed, not having a roving eye
on women, etc.
Sambhaloge to mit jaoge ….
piece of advice – “God helps only those who help themselves” --
to Muslims of various denominations to unite, to boycot the poison-spreading
Sandesh newspaper, and asking Muslims to take up self-defence and
not bank on the Government and the Police.
letter written by Vimala Thakar of Mt.Abu dated March 2, 2002
“friendly” communication that does not communicate. It touches on
various issues, “the preplanned conspiracy of the Godhra carnage
… the so called ‘secularists’, the misguided Muslim youth, and
perhaps the terrorists exported by our neighbour Pakistan who
could have decided to terrorise the Hindu devotees in such a way
that they would not dare to go to Ayodhya and cooperate with the
Project of the VHP of building the temple.” It ends by appealing
to support the Prime Minister of India’s appeal for restraint.
The national curriculum framework
in Gujarat childrens education in a Hindu Rashtra
Dr Nandini Manjrekar,
M.S. University University of Baroda
The National Curriculum Framework (2000) has been widely criticised by
educationists, historians and other scholars for its attempts to further
the agenda of the Sangh Parivar through school education. Principally,
the NCF lays down the foundational principles of the Parivars vision
of a national , Indianised and spiritualised
education for children. In a significant
departure from earlier frameworks (1975, following the 1968 Education
Policy; and 1988, following the 1986 Education Policy) which stressed
the inculcation of democratic values and social justice, and national
integration as achievable through appreciation and understanding of the
commonalities of different subcultures, the principal focus of the NCF
is value education. Value education forms the hub of the NCF,
its main plank to launch the spiritual and moral renewal of India. It
is through learning of the lives of prophets, saints and the sacred
texts (p.35) that children can achieve higher SQs (Spiritual Quotients)
and EQs (Emotional Quotients) (p.13). Other problematic areas in the NCF
are the focus on Sanskrit - spelt Samskrit in the NCF - a living
still relevant to the life and needs of the people of
India (p.54) and Vedic Mathematics, and its pernicious
position on gender (education
of women is an important key to improving health, nutrition and education
in the family - p.20). The implementation of the NCF was stayed
by the Supreme Court on 1 March 2002 on the ground that the NCF had not
sought the mandatory approval of the Central Advisory Board of Education
For those who for various reasons view critiques of the NCF with scepticism
(as also those who believe that since education is a concurrent subject,
the NCF may be rejected at the state level), it must be reiterated that
it forms a blueprint for education, which can be adapted by states where
the BJP is in power and where they have managed to put other Sangh Parivar
agendas in place. With a BJP government and penetration of Hindutva ideology
in all spheres of life, saffronisation of education in Gujarat did not
have to wait for the NCERTs Framework. Gujarat was one of the first
states to request UGC funding for courses in Vedic Astrology (the Baroda
Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
reportedly being one of the major grantees and all set to launch bachelors
and masters courses). On 26 January 2002, a year after the devastating
earthquake in Gujarat, the
Education Department issued a circular to schools to observe Dharti
Puja, and enclosed a list of shlokas to propitiate the Mother Goddess.
In keeping with its role as a vanguard state, Gujarat had revised its
textbooks along the lines of the NCF even before its official announcement.
In fact, going by the details set out in Communalism Combat, October 1999,
social science textbooks may have even exceeded the expectations of Dr
J S Rajput, Director, NCERT and his mentor, Prof MM Joshi.
By February 2002, suggestions for curriculum changes in keeping with NCF
guidelines were submitted to the government. According to a report in
the Times of India (22 March 2002, copy attached), the Gujarat Education
Minister stated that a state-level campaign is necessary for
implementing the National Curriculum by June 2003, through
seminars with principals and teachers. It is more than likely that the
Vidya Bharati Educational Trust the Sangh Parivars educational
wing will be entrusted with this task. (It may be instructive to
remember that in 2001, Goas BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar
handed over 51 government primary schools in rural areas to them.) According
to the guidelines, Sanskrit will be taught from Class 6 in all schools.
The Sanskrit Bharati, an RSS organisation, has been entrusted with the
task of developing the curriculum for Sanskrit. Readers on sacred texts
and biographies of
selected nationalist figures are also being developed. A book
on the Upanishads has been written by the husband of the Education Minister
Anandiben Patel, and a biography of Shyamji Krishna Verma by a former
editor of the RSS journal Sadhna.
In this planned saffronisation of education, emphasis on value education
derived from religion and tradition (read orthodoxy) replaces
that on social justice, tolerance and plurality (the slogan unity
in diversity is being given a quiet burial). This new thrust is
of a piece with efforts in other spheres to manufacture a majoritarian
view of society in which the cultural and political space for minorities
will progressively shrink. What better place to begin than in school?
Experience of the present carnage against Muslims in Gujarat begs the
question whether a saffronised school curriculum will not provide a good
setting in which intolerance and further injustices against minorities
can be justified.
note on history lessons in the social studies textbooks of the Gujarat
text book board,
note refers to the history lessons and content of the Social Studies (Samaj
Vidya) textbooks brought out by the Gujarat Textbook Board. This note
is prepared by Shishu Milap, an NGO that has been working on developing
alternative social science textbooks that emphasise a learner-centred
The Gujarat Textbook Board books combine distinct sections titled, History,
Geography and Civics, into one potpourri called Social Studies. And on
the average have something like 38 chapters in each year. Chapters are
generally didactic or information-laden. There is little thought given
to making it exciting, relevant, or interesting.
Looking at history lessons specifically for the classes 5-7, we have
the following observations:
Class 5 has 33 chapters. In Class 5 under the so-called Vedic Yug,
legend and mythology is often conflated with history. The Class 5
textbook in fact starts with the Story of Apala, then goes on to Maitreyi
and Yagnavalkya and then Nachiketa. Under the head of The Age
of Epics the textbook continues with Ram-Bharat Milan (Chapter
4); Shri Rama: The Example of a True Kshatriya (Chapter 5); Vikarna;
Karna and Kunti; Shri Krishna and Arjun: the teachings of the Gita,
and Krishna-Sudama (Chapter 9). Thus nine out of 35 chapters, with
the History section having 19 chapters in all, are devoted to a period
that can hardly be called History.
if one assumed it were History, there could have been some reference
or indication to the specific antiquity of the Vedas or the Mahabharata
or the Ramayana. There is no such reference except in an overall one
page commentary at the beginning of each period.
of these stories in these chapters, interesting in any another context,
tend to take a moralistic tone wondering whether the purpose of the
text is moral education from essentially Hindu (unless you equate
Hindu with Indian) scriptures, or History as the majority community
would like to envision it as.
even when there are chapters devoted to historical figures like the
Buddha, Mahavir Swami, Ashoka, Kalidasa, Harshvardhan, Huen Sang,
etc., the style of treatment is valorisation by treating the narratives
as essentially a story. But a historical treatment, which shows some
consciousness of historiography on the part of the writers, is absent.
Probably the previous versions of the book were criticised for making
it dry and therefore the story format has been adopted.
same comment is applicable to treatment of historical figures in Class
6 which is devoted to the Medieval Age. purportedly 8th century
AD to 17-18th century AD. Out of the 21 chapters in Class 6 devoted
to History (out of a total of 40 chapters, the number of chapters
itself is a scandal but we need not discuss that here), nine
are devoted to Saints all Hindu Saints with the solitary exception
of Kabir. The entire Mughal Period gets one chapter in which Akbar
and Aurangazeb are squeezed into one (Chapter 13). Among Muslim
royalty related themes, there is Chapter 8 on Amir Khusro and
Allauddin Khilji and Chapter 21 on The Third Battle of Panipat.
the Class 7 textbook on Social Studies, again there are 21 chapters,
out of a total of 38, devoted to History per se. All the chapters
are devoted to the so-called Modern Age. There are separate chapters
--- keeping with its motif of History as biographical narrative --on
Bentinck and Rammohan Roy, Laxmibai, Phule Dayandan Saraswati, Ramakrishna
Paramahans, Swami Vivekanand, Tilak, Gokhale, Gandhis Advent,
the Sardar and Nehru, Bose, Tagore but none on Ambedkar.
there chapters which underscore the theme of Hindu Muslim Unity or
the Unity of All religions? There are none in Class 5. In Class 6,
chapters on Siddhraj Jaisingh, Guru Nanak, Kabir and Ramanand, and
Akbar, ,and to an extent Shivaji and Guru Gobind Singh, drive this
message. In Class 7, two chapters on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda do
this to an extent. A curious chapter called Aarzi Hakumat
on the Junagadh and Hyderabad episodes misses the opportunity. However
amends are made in a chapter in Civics called The National Spirit.
there chapters problematising the problems within Hindu socio-religious
structures? Emperor Ashoka (Chapter 15, Class 5), the chapters on
Rajendra Chola, Vijaynagar, Ramanand and Kabir, and Akbar in Class
6, and Bentinck and Rammohan Roy (Chapter 3, Class 7), Sahajanand
Swami, Brahmo movement and Phule in (Chapter 6, The Reawakening, in
Class 7) do this to a reasonable extent. There is again enumeration
and some discussion of Casteism and Communalism in the chapter on
The National Spirit.
outcome of these textbooks, especially if one factors in the Civics and
Geography sections, is bad pedagogy that is unlikely to inculcate a spirit
of historical inquiry in the students.