The rise of right wing brings along with it hate crimes of various hues – from verbal attacks in public to brutal killings. Ever since BJP and Mr Modi were voted to lead the country in May 2014, India has seen a series of hate crimes and hate campaigns, from murders over beef to campaigns such as Love Jihad. A similar trend can now be seen in the US, one which started right from the days when Donald Trump started his presidential campaign to the brutal murder of an Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla a day ago just over a month after Mr Trump assumed office. In India, the mob lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, with sticks and bricks shocked many across the country.
While Akhlaq was killed on the night of September 28, 2015, Srinivas was killed on the night of 23rd February 2017 according to Indian Standard Time (IST). Since the killings happened at night, Indian newspapers covered neither of the crimes the day after. While Akhlaq’s mob lynching was covered on 30th September 2015, Srinivas’s murder has been covered by Indian Newspapers on 25th February 2015. In this post, we present a pictorial comparison of how Indian Newspapers covered the two crimes. Let’s start with Times of India, Delhi edition on the day after Akhlaq was lynched.
The front page of Times of India on 30th September 2015 could only afford a tiny space on the left column on the front page of its newspaper regarding Akhlaq’s mob lynching. How did Times of India, Delhi Edition, cover Srinivas’s murder?
Times of India dedicated a front page lead story for the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla. Next, let us look at Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition, coverage of Srinivas’s murder.
Again, a front page lead story. How did Hindustan Times cover Mohammad Akhlaq’s mob lynching on 30th September 2015?
As one can see, Mohammad Akhlaq is nowhere to be seen on the front page of Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition, on 30th September 2015. In fact, this incident was relegated to the 3rd page. Let us look at Mail Today front page next on 25th February 2017 to see how they covered Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s murder.
Mail Today, being a tabloid newspaper, featured it as one of its lead stories. How did Mail Today cover Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching on 30th September 2015?
Mail Today not only skipped Mohammad Akhlaq’s mob lynching on 30th September 2015 on its front page but they failed to feature it anywhere at all on that day. They wrote about it on 1st October 2015 and that too in one of their inner pages. In fact, the only newspaper that did justice in their news coverage to these hate crimes was Indian Express. Here’s a comparison of their coverage of Akhlaq’s murder vs Srinivas’s murder.
From the above examples, one can see a clear bias in the coverage of Mohammad Akhlaq’s mob lynching vs the coverage of Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s murder in the US. Why this bias? Why did Indian media have to wait for a pan-national outrage to feature Mohammad Akhlaq in the news cycle? Why wasn’t adequate space given to Mohammad Akhlaq in newspapers the day after he was brutally murdered? Is it because Indian media is hesitant in highlighting right wing hate crimes? These are some of the troubling questions that Indian media needs to answer.