Media mischief mongering over Church attacks in India

Lets be clear. All attacks on schools, places of worship and sexual violence deserve condemnation and punishment. However the vivid media depictions of these isolated incidents as attacks religiously or politically motivated – even before police investigations have revealed who the likely perpetrators are – cannot be described as anything other than mischievous.

Over the past few months, anyone who follows India’s English-language media will have noticed prominent stories about attacks on the Christian community in India – which consist of a handful of attacks on Christian schools, a Christian church and the rape of a nun in West Bengal.

media-bias1These stories have been paraded by the media as manifestations of India’s dangerous “majoritarian” tendency, signs that “Hindu forces” are now being emboldened to “put minorities in their place” following the election of a BJP government. In turn, these stories have been picked up and republished by the news sources in a number of other countries.

The media was so successful in making these handful of attacks into a national (and even international) issue that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh felt compelled to make statements to reassure the Christian community that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

Lets be clear. All attacks on schools, places of worship and sexual violence deserve condemnation and punishment. However the vivid media depictions of these isolated incidents as attacks religiously or politically motivated by the Hindu community on hapless defenseless Christians – even before police investigations have revealed who the likely perpetrators are – cannot be described as anything other than mischievous.

India is a large, populous country, with high levels of poverty and crime. There are a lot of incidents of burglary and vandalism of places of worship, and a lot of sexual violence. It has been shown that there are significantly more incidents of burglary and vandalism against Hindu temples than there are on churches. Some of these attacks are carried out by criminals, without any religious or political motivation. On the other hand, some of the attacks are religiously and politically motivated hate crimes. When the target is a Hindu place of worship or a Hindu person, even if police investigations show that there may be some religious motivation for the crime, the media will carefully underplay any possible “communal” slant to the crime. Here are a few examples:

Murtis of Durga and Kali vandalised

Four Hindus killed in West Bengal riot, but newspaper carefully avoids this fact in reporting

Hindu women are also targeted on a number of occasions for partly communally motivated hated crimes in many parts of the country, and in other countries in the subcontinent, but most of the time these crimes do not warrant a mention in the media, so it is left to alternative media to give us a clear insight into such crimes.

On the other hand, when the victim in a “minority” religious institute, or a person belonging to the Christian or Muslim faith, the media goes into overdrive to promote the attack as being examples of Hindus persecuting Muslims or Christians. In several cases, like the recent rape of a nun in West Bengal, even when the prime accused are a mixed criminal gang consisting of mixed religions, rather than a “hate crime by Hindus on Christians”, the media does not issue any clarification even after weeks of promoting the incident as a hate crime by Hindus against Christians, but just goes silent. But even after publishing articles like this, which quite amazingly jumped to the dramatic conclusion that the rape of a nun was a “Warning Shot” by Hindu forces against MUSLIMS – the media just treated with silence the fact that the likely perpetrator being investigated by police is non-Hindu. Is this fair and unbiased reporting?

The question arises, what motivates the English language media of India to indulge in such poor journalism? The answer lies in the ideological moorings of the English-language media.

To make a clear example of how the media blatantly underplays attacks on Hindus, while whipping up hysteria when “minorities” are attacked, we can analyse the following Tweets by well known TV / news personality Barkha Dutt. It should be noted that this is merely the tip of the iceberg:

Just look at the following Tweet about a fatal attack on a Muslim student in Pune:

… and then compare it with the tone of a Tweet about the rape and captivity of a Hindu woman in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh:

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

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