Communal Bias of Media Under Scrutiny
During the first week of January 2011 a serious ethnic clash took place between the Rabhas and the Garos on the borders of Assam and Meghalaya that stunned the people of North East India and drew the attention of the entire Country and the World beyond. According to available information, more then 27 people were killed, 1550 houses torched and some 35000 were made to flee to 32 relief camps in search of shelter. Those who know anything about the nature of ethnic clashes are fully aware that they occur along ethnic divide, not along religious boundaries. When the tension is high on both sides, what is most required of those that have a sense of responsibilities is to help people to keep calm and regain their serenity, and not aggravate the feeling further. When news papers and media men fail in this respect, it is a serious failure. If, further, they describe an ethnic conflict as a communal conflict and fan the flames of communal passions, they are seriously guilty of promoting violence. It is an anti – national activity. This is what The Sentinel has done during the recent ethnic conflict. We did not raise our voice in protest during the trouble times lest we add to the tension. Now that things are improving towards which we Christians have contribute a great deal, we would like to take the issue with The Sentinel which claims to be at the service of this land and this people.
‘The Sentinel’ quotes Swami Navendrananda Sarawati
It is a context of intense anger, anxiety and tensions between two communities that The Sentinel quoted on January,22, 2011 the highly provocative statement of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders Swami Narendrananda Saraswati of Kanchi. No other paper did so. Though this holy man does not belong to the region, though his knowledgeability about the local situation is very little, he made the wild allegation that it was the Christian missionaries that had caused the conflict between the Rabha and the Garo communties. No other papers accept The Sentinel thought it right to quotes such a reckless accusation at that volatile moment. What was this Swamiji’s competence in analyzing the social situation in the north east? What was his commitment to the region in any way, accept to rouse communal passions and build up a communally – minded group here to act as the ‘long arm’ of the VHP? What was his concern if the situations worsened and things went out of hand?
Of course, we Christians are not unused to such wild allegations and an irresponsible manner of reporting events in sensitive times. When in 1996 the Bodo – Adivasi conflict at Kokrajhar had claimed more than 500 lives and drove over 250000 people into shabby shelters in the heat and slush of summer, Advani rushed to guwahati to make solemn declaration that Christian missionaries were responsible for the violence. He was surrounded by the business community as usual. This is what normally happens whenever either he or any of the Sangh Parivar top leaders visits Assam, whether at Tinsukia or Guwahati. He did not go one step nearer to Kokrajhar were the actual trouble took place, nor a little closer to the people who were suffering. But at the same time Christian missionaries were killing themselves offering relief to the victims of the riot under the heavy showers of mid – summer and between erratic floods. When a similar clash took place between the Karbis and the Kukis some years later, Sudarshan made similar accusations against Christian missionaries from a distance…..from Silchar surrounded by his VHP friends. Neither did he come to any closer to the tragedy.
It is not our intentions in this paper neither to analyze at length the reasons for the conflict between the Rabhas and the Garos nor to allot responsibilities. Was it due to the repeated bandhs the Rabhas were calling for many years in succession during the season of Christmas and New Year under the inspiration of the VHP while pressing for political autonomy? Or the illegal taxes their young men were levying on all goods moving to or coming from garo hills? Was the conflict just the initiative of the garos? Was it on the contrary, the initiative of the rabhas, or of the ex- Bangladeshis who wanted to grab tribal lands by getting the two neighboring tribes to fight among themselves? Was it related to the elections that were due in a short time in order to manipulate the voters’ list? Was it a secret trick of the Assam Administration that wanted to silence the Rabha demand for autonomy for sometime? We did not want to speculate.
Our intention here is not to judge the rabha – garo conflict but to draw the attention of all fair – minded people to the malicious strategy that some papers and writers adopt to stir up communal tensions between communities in trouble – times. For this time we have chosen to put under scrutiny THE SENTINEL which has for several years been taking the liberty of writing anything about the Christian community without any sense of responsibility. Media watching NGO’s are putting their article and report together, especially those that saw evident unfairness and taking note of sarcastic snide and snippets from the back issue of The Sentinel, which will one day form an encyclopedia. They intend to ask the administrations of the paper which claims to be “for this land and for this people” which land and which people they are referring to.
2. ‘The Sentinel’ accuses the church of being ‘Aggressive’, Christmas celebrations being ‘Very Aggressive’
It is fair enough that The Sentinel reported the irresponsible statement of a weightless Swamiji. But the esteemed paper was using the Swamiji’s utterance merely as a way of introducing a series of venomous write – ups against the Christian community in quick succession. The Swamiji – quote was the first step in a calculated move to build up an ugly against the Christian community and place blame on it for a whole lot of things. On January 24th The Sentinel published a full length article quoting a letter that was supposed to have been written to the prime minister by an imaginary ‘Garo – Rabha Peace Council’ (GRPC) based at Williamnagar.
Our ‘Media Watch’ NGO’s have been searching for this peace in Williamnagar and all over the garo hills with success. Whom do these Sikram Sangma and Jitendra Rabha represent? Themselves? Or a microscopic minority in those hills? Or the administration of The Sentinel or its ideology? Or some vested interest based outside the region? How does the letter come to have Ayodhya tones? It begins with referring to two ‘christian militant outfits’!! has the noble – minded paper ever referred to Ulfa, PREPAK, PLA,BLT, NDFB, Amra Bengali, and others…..as ‘ hindu militant outfits’ in all the years of its existence? The emergencies of young men under arms is an alarming phenomenon in India today that all communities have to join hands together to handle. The two militant outfits referred to our not more horrendous then atleast a dozen hindu militant outfits in the region, or the street gangs that ‘ hindu’ politicians sponsor all over the countries, or the paid goondas that the business community makes use of to get their things done.
In January 26th, 2011 The Times of India published a letter to the editor by a certain A.M. Siddiqui of Aligarh asking why the word ‘Hindu’ is not used before the names of Hindu militants, terrorist, smugglers, and criminal, while words like ‘Islamic’ or ‘Christian’ is repeatedly used before the name of any one who belong to these communities who happen to err in that direction. D. Das writing in the Telegraph 27.11.2011 admitted that two Bhakhts of Kamalabari Satra (Majuli) were arrested for having links with ULFA. Why did The Sentinel not carry the headline next day saying that the two ‘Hindu’ terrorist were taken from a Hindu monastery and soak the world? Why did they not accuse the Satras of Assam of patronizing anti – national activities? Christians do not blame the Hindu Community or their religious leaders for the misbehavior of individual Hindus.
The letter to the Prime Minister from this fictitious peace council says “church is allegedly providing surveillance service and materials help to this outfits”. On the contrary, it has been proved that ministers and government officers have been siphoning off public money and information to the militants groups and secessionist movements in Assam, Manipur and other places. And they all belong to the majority community, not any of the minority communities or to the Christians. It is well known that the business community has been subsidizing militants in Assam from the beginning, first in the form of conceding to extortion notices, then as appeasement money, later as encouragement subsidy, later still as a device to divert their attention from themselves to others, then against the minorities, and finally for the promotion for Hindutva interests and for the building up of a communally – motivated brigade in the region in order to further their own interests. Indigenous communities in the northeast are not inclined to communal violence. The eagerness of the VHP is to build up a base among the other outsiders planted into the region with a minimum help of local groups. But we want to tell you, being against Muslims and Christians is not a glory. Every Muslim is not a Bangladeshi. Every Christian is not anti-national. And every Hindu is not a patriot. The Christians church has been serving society, helping indigenous people in each place, and all others in special need, without distinction, without prejudice. We may be unassuming and unassertive, but no one has to right to insult and humiliate our community,
The letter of the anonymous peace council continues “some of the Rabha Christians also are reported to be spying for Garo churches against Rabha Hindus”. Is there any other more effective way of building up hatred between two communities that have been living in peace together for centuries? We do not believe that any Rabha would do anything against the interests of their own community. But The Sentinel has succeeded with this fine stroke not only to set the Rabha against the Garos, but also to divide the Rabha community within itself. By attributing the letter to a non-existing and non-representative organization, the Sentinel shakes off its own responsibility for making baseless allegation against a respected minority community. They are accountable to the public. There is something like the people’s court. The Sentinel may bribe their way out of defamation cases. But here they stand guilty before all fair-minded people of the region for the hatred they plant in ‘this land’ and in the hearts of ‘this people’ through their paper.
We do not know why the peace council did not inform the Prime Minister of the fact that more than 150 Rabha Christians were forced to renounce Christianity and join the Bajrang Dal to be ready for action for the next pogrom which they are planning. Why did they not write that the tribal shrines of the Rabha people were being fast replaced by the temples dedicated to the mainland deities? Why did they not say that a philosophy of violence developed by the saffron intellectuals has succeeded to win media cover in the Northeast so that the violently inclined people of the majority community can find justification and defense from the media? That even the Supreme Court seemed to have a lenient view of the killing of convert-makers?
But the greatest insult to humanity is to call the warm invitation that Christians extend to their neighbors during the Christmas season “very aggressive”. This is what has been alleged in the imaginary peace council. People of every religion readily accept an invitation to Christmas celebrations, as they also do to the Bihu and pooja festivities. The Northeast Daily of December 22, 2000 quoted Uma Bharati, the sports and youth affairs minister in the Vajpayee government, as having said that she eagerly waited for the Christmas celebrations and that they made her very happy. The report said, “She takes the day off, sits at home and talks about Christ, lights joss sticks before the many pictures she bas of him – and prays…. She celebrates Christmas, she says, in its true spirit. She calls up her home, talks to close relatives and friends. In short, as she puts it: ‘I enjoy the day just like any Christian would.” We are referring to the very person who has been accused of having been involved in the destruction of the Babre Mazjid. She can’t be accused of being prejudiced in favor of the Christian community. “Whenever I see a church, my heart jumps with joy, and it gives me a calm and serene felling. “Uma Bharati Says,” What gives a calm and serene feeling to Uma Bharati is described by The Sentinel as “very aggressive.
It is in this context that any fair-minded person understands the frustration of the Christian community when bandhs are called year after year during the Christmas season so as to damage the joy of the season for everyone. Undoubtedly it has been happening on the Meghalaya border at the prompting of the VHP, those who consider every smile or kind deed an invitation to conversion, any generous service or any polite action or Christian feast as an enticement to change religion. Only those who never acted kindly, respectfully, disinterestedly will look to every good deed as an enticement. Only persons of that brand would consider a happy Christmas celebration ‘very aggressive!’ We do not want to make a list of all those who do so. But evidently the actual writers of the letter which was allegedly sent to the Prime Minister in the name of the non-existing Garo-Rabha Peace council definitely belong to that category. Those who gave honourable media cover that unworthy letter belong to the same family. We would not like to thrust the stalwarts of the respected Sangha Parivar into this discredited band wagon. But if men of the stature of Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal, Sudarshan, Gurumurthy, Arun Shourie and M.V.Kamath (see The Sentinel 28.10.2000) are competing to get into that distinguished company, we do not wish to prevent them. It is their choice.
In the October 4, 2009 issue of The Times of India MD Nalapal said that conversions were not prevented by legislation or the use of the police, but rebuilding confidence in the ‘multiple and vibrant strands of India’s 5,000-year old traditional faith’, the Sanatana Dharma. It is the Sign of enormous inferiority complex to believe that one’s faith can be sustained and handed down only with the help of the District collector and the police!
Roaring against conversion, KS Sudarshan reached New York (The Telegraph 12.8.2000) to encourage the RSS cadre in the United States in their work of proselytization and conversion. The Huindutwa brigade has developed the skill of accusing others of what they are doing unabashedly or are preparing to do, e.g. conversion during Kumbh Melas.
What was painful to read in the notorious letter to the Prome Minister was the shocking statement that the church played a “hostile role” (sic!) “during the Karbi – Dimasa clash in 2005 and Dimasa – Jeme upheaval in 2009”. The Prime Minister is better informed. In the Rabha – Garo clash, the letter claims, tat 10 mandirs were destroyed, while not even one church was harmed. Let us put the record right. During the Bodo – Adivasi clash 1996 more then 100 churches were destroyed, some them extremely w one church was harmed. let he church played a "ization aell built. Not a single Hindu temple was reported destroyed. Christians do not destroy others’ holy places. That is the mission of Babri Mazjid destroyers. During the Hmar – Dimasa conflict several churches were destroyed, but there was never a whisper of a mandir damaged. The record was the same durig the Karbi – Dimasa conflict or Dimasa – Zeme conflict. So if in the Rabha – Garo collision Hindu temples were destroyed, we have good reasons to suspect sabotage by the erratic numbers of the VHP itself itself that wanted to shift the blame on to others.
Periyar, born at Erode in 1879 of a Hindu family of artisans came to understand that religion he professed was nothing more than ‘cateism’. He ended by destroying the images of Rama and Ganesh and holding up admiration for Ravana. He was not a Christian! Intelligent Hindus have asked, why don’t the Hindutvavadis propagate Hindu Dharma, not Hindu fanaticism? M.D. Gopalakrishnan says “the coffers of these temples of Venkateshwara (of Tirupati) are dumped with gold, silver, currencies and other valuables by visiting devotees as a compensation for their criminalities….”
But speaking of temples, it may be an occasion to ask another question. Why this mushrooming of temples in Northeast India all of a sudden during the last few years…. And all in unauthorized places? Has no one the duty of and the right to control this form of erraticism? We are told that Narendra Modi of Gujarat puts a limit to such phoney devotions in favor of corporation and economic zones. That is the extent of the piety of a Sangh Parivar leader. For him money comes before mandirs. It is evident hat genuine religion is not the issue in the temple – building industry in the Northeast. All is well as long as the VHP empire keeps growing, whether through temple – fervour, business expansion, political manipulations, or muscle power. Infact, even the Indian army has become a temple – building agency in the Northeast. So have the CRP and the para – military forces. So have he big business community at urban centers. So have the small shop – keepers at streets – corners and small little towns of Assam. People who believe neither in God or in any spiritual values (see the corruption – record of such people) are promoting mandirs and kirtans. May the Lord spare us from that breed!
The process may be thus described. First there appears a red cloth around every warped tree on the high road. Moortis come up from nowhere in unexpected places. Kirtans and night vigils begin to be kept, subsidized by interested parties. After a while a particular shrine has become so ‘holy’, it cannot do without a Brahmin, usually an illiterate sadhu from the mainland. Petty traders and liquor – vending and gold – pawning begin. Then is initiated the holiest of all actions….land – grabbing. Ultimately a point is reached when all tribals land in the area has gone into the hands of non – indigenous people, and local men are caught into dept with the business community. There is already talk of a great Kumbh Mela in the region to rob the land still remaining in the hands of indigenous people and pass it into the ‘reliable hands’ of the Hindutva forces led by outsiders, so, in the name of mining natural resources, of national security, of ‘special economic zones’ or ‘special Hindutva zones’, the indigenous people keep losing their land and find their destines shaped from Nagpur and other VHP headquarters.
All this taking as the local people unexplainably remain under the spell of a strange mesmerizing sort of Hindutva. Soon the indigenous people find themselves at the bottom of the Hindu hierarchy. This is how the indigenous people of Tripura lost their ancient glory to others. They were victims of the anaesthetizing and mesmerizing effect of Hindutva. How many tribals have lost their culture, their natural resources, their land and wherewithal in different parts of India to Hindutva top brasses! That is what happened to the ahoms, Kacharis and the Meities. All thinking people see a doom overhanging the fates of Assam and the Northeast, no matter how many andolans the indigenous people will organize. After all, their leadership slowly slips into Hindutva hands. Money power is theirs, political influence is their, media is theirs. For the indigenous communities it makes little difference whether their land is taken by the so called ‘foreigners’ or the valiant forces from the BIMARU states or from any other.
The Telegraph of 12.2.2006 said that the Kumbh Mela in Dangs (Gujarat) became an occasion for the grabbing of tribal land and devastation of forest areas. Fascist forces are growing stronger. Already in 1947 Nehru had written “We have a great deal of evidence to show that the RSS is an organization in the nature of a private army which is definitely proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines, even following the techniques of the organization” (Christophe Jaffrelot). Is the Saffron brigade training the youth of the Northeast too be other Asokas or the Hitlers?
The recent Kumbh Mela in the Mandala region of Madhya Pradesh reportedly attracted 2 million people. The denunciation of the Christians was a daily affair. Christians were called “bedbugs” to be killed without any qualms of conscience (Indian Currents 21 – 27 Febraury 2011). Christophe Jaffrelot quotes some of the popular slogans of the Hindutva brigade: “Hindi, hindi, Hundustan; Mullah bhago Pakistan”. A more recent war – cry at Kumbh Melas has been “Hindu jagao, Christian bhagao”.
Recently the children of many indigenous communities of the Northeast are being taken around the country for a Bharata dharshan, temple – visiting, vedic – tuition, RSS training in Khaki shorts, and bajrang dal drills. They will be given instruction on how to shift from the tribal bride – price tradition to bride – burning activities! Dowry – instruction will be given free of charge. In Tripura it is already taking place. We pray them, do not be deceived too easily. After all, Northeasterners will not be allowed beyond the Hanuman status. Bandardeva is sufficient for them. For the Sangh Parivar, the Northeastern tribals belong to the category of vanvasis and Karitas, a little less than humans. They are to be kept second – grade in refernce to the mainland ‘holy men’.
The Telegraph of February 11, 2006 reported that durintg the Sangh Parivar’s Shabri Kumbh in Dangs district (Gujarat ) it was decided that every tribal house should have a Hanuman Chalisa. A story was constructed to say that the local tribal goddess Shabri had served Ram on some unknown occasion. The conclusion is evident : if the Hindutya fervour increases among the tribals. (Hanuman – worshippers ), they will be found worthy to serve Ram – worshippers. They are not worthy to serve Ram himself, of course1! This is the doom awaiting the tribal communities of the Northeast. Get ready to serve the people of the Aryavarta. A Kumbha Mela in the Northeast can provide an occasion to creating a Ram –Hanuman related legend to bring the indigenous people under heel. The indigeneous people will be generously given the monkey- status. They will be enticed to worship the monkey –god and the snake-god. We can already see thousands of Northeast tribals sliding in that direction through the enticement of a Bharata darshan and the promise of scholarships for their children in Karnataka. Meantime the Northeast will no longer belong to the Northeasterners. The masters shall become slaves.
In 2003 the BJP planned a Jana Jagaran Rath Yathra in Assam (See The Sentinel 3.4.03). togadia promised to distribute one lakh trishuls in the state, one for each village (The Telegraph 10.6.03). in the name of resisting Bangladeshi influx, they proposed to promote another form of influx from the obscurantist communities of the BIMARU states: Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and UP.( For your information the women literacy rate in Rajasthan seems to be about 11%, in spite of all the money of the business community in Assam reaching that state). They hope one day to make the Chhat Pooja and Bolbam festivities outshine the indigenous Bihus. The VHP proposal for a Ratha Yathra in Assam met with the stiff opposition from indigeneous communities at Kokrajhar, Nagaon and othe places. The AASU appealed to the Satras to dissociatethemselves from ‘communal forces’. Unfortunately we remain slow learners from these experiences.
3. ‘The Sentinel’ Mobilizes the Support of Communally Biased Media Men
Let us return to the Rabha –Garo conflict once again. The Sentinel was not satisfied with maligning the Christian community and the Church two days in succession at a sensitive moment. It would not wait even a week before taking up its mud – slinging campaign against the community again. In its issue of January 30th The Sentinel published an article by an illustratrious ex- Chief Secretary of Assam, JP Rajkhowa, under whom the Stare had gone out of gear. No state can make progress under the guidqance of people who seek to divide society and pit one community against another. Rajkhowa ‘s article does not throw any new light on the Rabha – Garo issue, but monotonously quotes the lugubrations against the Church in the imaginary letter to the Prime Minister, of which he himself may have been the author. He alleges that the Church was responsible for the sisaster on the Assam – Meghalaya border. He extends the responsibility to Muslims, to the NGO’s and to all non –Rabhas! Thus he builds up a distalnce among all the communities of Assam. That has remained his contribution to people while guiding the destinies of this State. His questionable attitudes have been exposed. But he remains unfazed.
What we need to admire is the skill The Sentinel manifests in bringing together all the scribes with a communal bias. Those who contribute to the columns of The Sentinel are persons like Arun Shourie (e.g. see The Sentinel 19.11.99) and M.V.Kamath (e.g. The Sentinel 3.6.2006) both of whom studied in Christian schools and have their gran – nieces in missionary institutions, while making wild allegations against the Christian community. There are in addition Gurmurthy, and others. The Sentinel patronizes all such scurrilous writers. Those people that other fair-mined papers shun, The Sentinel enthusiastically sponsors. In this context we may need to take note of a new set of persons to whom we have given too little attention, and who may be called Hindutva Mercenaries. In the 19th century, when the Hindu Maharajahs were struggling against European powers, they made use of European mercenaries who were ready to lend their military skills to the highest bidder. There were Portugues, Duch, French or English mercenaries in the pay of Hindu princes who were fighting the European Powers, or plundering the territories of felloe- Hindu population. In our own days there is a new type of mercenaries. They are the Indian mercenaries who sesrve the VHP cause alnd harass minorities in order to be rewarded with ministerial posts or posh appointments in the BJP – led governments. Then there are Hindu missionaries who keep enticing non –Hindu tribals into the lowest position in the Hindu caste hierarchy. Finally, there are Francois Gautier ( see The Sentinel 19.10.2001,22.5.2002), Koenraad Elst, and others.
Though the saffron brigade claims that their religion makes on converts, there are also a new brand of ‘foreign converts to Hinduism’ who are given a privileged position in all places, and who have a ‘free for all’ license to move around and do what they like. These foreign mercenaries at the Hindutva service are taken round to sensitive areas from the communal point of view or from the point of view national security. They are greatly rewarded if they can say that they betrayed their childhood religious convictions for good reasons. They little realize that Indians, and Asians as a whole, consider such mean caharacters as the dregs of society. While the wrong specimen of Indians would make them feel they are heroes, they are heartily despised even by those who flater them and whose vested interests they serve at a given time. No self- respecting Indian would like to be seen associating with people who betray values that are considered universally respectable.
4.’The Sentinel’ accuses the Church of offering
And of employing
The following is not a made up story. Please see The Sentinel of February 12th. The paper that claims to be for “ This Land and for This People” brings int existence another organization called. “ The Jananjati Faith and Culture Protection Forum” (JFCPF) to humiliate this land and threaten this people. The The Sentinel – created GRPC and JFCPF were nowhere visible during the entire relief and rehabilitation effort or peace negotiations. None of the administrators or NGO’s who were actively in the field labouring day and night know anything about their whereabouts. Why be surprised? Their mission is to spread anger among people and werite to the Prime Minister under the guidance of The Sentinel. May be they are not even existing! The prestigious paper claims that this non –existing forum called JFCPF has witten another letter to the Prime Minister accusing the Church again of encouraging violence. It goes on to say that the mission of the Church has been to offer “Booze,Bullet and Bible” to the people. We would life to ask the hundreds of thousands of young people who passed out of Church – Schools in this region whether this is true. We would like to ask the thousands of patients who found healing through Christian hospitals if this is true. We would like to ask the millions of believers in Christ’s message whether the mighty task that their Church has accomplished has beeb what The Sentinel alleges.
The matter is serious. The Sentinel s not quoting some erratic swami.They are their own words. No author is mentioned in this report of February 12th. The facts referred to are the same as those of the previous letter, allegedly written by another body, the non- existing Garo – Rabha Peace Council. Style is the same. In many parts it is a word for word repetition of the first letter. We cannot avoid the conclusion that the writer is the same. An authorless report in the February 12th issue of The Sentinel can only lbe attributed to the editorial staff of the paper that claims to stand for this land and for this people while working against the long term interests of this land and this people. Endless search has not unearthed these two ghostly bodies who are supposed to have written those letters to the Prime Minister. No other paper has made any reference to these non- existing bodies. May The Sentinel alone have the glory of having worked on the base communal sentiments of the communities on the Assam – Meghalaya border to in flame anger and accentuate hatred.
5. ‘ The Sentinel’has been at this Game for Long Years
This is not the first time that The Sentinel carried a news item with the title, “Tension over conversion of State Tea labourers”. It was reported from Nagaon. And the conversion were supposed to be takin place in the Sagmootea Garden (Nagaon). And it said, “Tension is mounting between the Hindu and Christian communities in the tea garden areas of Assam because of ongoing religious conversion and reconversion of tea labourers by religious leaders of the two communities”. It alleged that 3000 people were converted by force. This news sent a chill through the spine of the Christian leaders in Guwahai who immediately organized a fact – finding expedition. On diligent enquiry they found no converts, no tensions. Hardly any santals in that garden. The garden manager knew nothing about conversions or reconversions, nor the OC, nor the general public. This cooked up story had already reached the Doordarshan Guwahati by September 12th (9.00 a.m news). See what The Sentinel succeeded t achieve! What became a national sensation was a Sentinel – created story, exactly like the letters to the Prime Minister.
2. in the year 200 The Sentinel of April 18th published in bold “Church leader with explosive “. No Christian in the entire region was able to identify such a leader belonging to any church.
3. Just three months later on July 7th The Sentinel caused a sensation with the news “Conversion Attempts Foiled” reported from Bokakhat. On enquiry it was found that there is absolutely no substance in the story.
4. in 2003 there was the rumor about the formation of a ‘Hindu Army’ of non –Manipuris with the name ‘United People’s Council in Manipur’. Is The Sentinel suggestion something like that in the tribal belts of the region to rob the local people of their landed assets?
5. January 20, 2005 The Sentinel reported in the bold “School, Church Set Ablaze” at Nagrijuli. It said that a missionary school there had been put to fire to protest against 10,000 conversions. It was deliberately worded to stir up communal violence in the area. Even where the Christian community was the victim, it was made the criminal.
These have reference merely to a few chapters of the communal –bias – encyclopedia we are preparing which will record for all time all the unfair reporting of news in The Sentinel. It will be published just when the reputed paper will least desire it. Does not worry, the bias of others also will be pointed out. We too can write to the Prime Minister. He is ours too. But we shall be truthful. We shall serve this land and This People, for this is our land and we are part of this people.
6. A Change of Attitude is possible
The Telegraph of December 25th 2006 quoted the example of a certain Nilesh Lohar of Dangs district in Gujarat, an ex- Bajaran Dal member. Eight years after serving the communal organization, he is full of remorse. This is what happened to Asoka after he killed a handred thousand people in the kingdom of Kalinga. “His majesty’s heart was full of rumorse”. Nilesh Lohar was the one who attacked mission schools and other Christian institutions and was called Chhote Togadia in honour of the VHP leader. One day when he was able to see how far this kind of communal bias was taking the movement he broke down. “…..today I feel I was just a pawn in the game”. When more of the indigenous people of the Northeastern region will open their eyes to the fact that they are being used as mere ‘pawns’ to further the political and economic interests of a corruption promoting business – community in alliance with politicians at a distance who have ho commitment to the region, then a change may take place. The matter does not end here. Something must change somewhere. The change will come when people begin to open their eyes. Our press Watch and Media Scrutiny Groups will keep collecting cooked up stories that The Sentinel and the other papers keep publishing. We will appeal to the fair minded society of the Northeast to decide. That decision will be final. If their judgment is going to hard, The Sentinel and other biased papers will realized they are not serving this Land and this People.