February 10, 2013

Revisiting the riots of '93 - Role of the Media

From: The Times of India

Revisiting the riots of '93
Sharmila Ganesan Ram, TNN Feb 9, 2013, 03.29AM IST

MUMBAI: "Twenty years later, why should we remember the Mumbai riots of 1992-93?" asked author Naresh Fernandes, setting the tone for a discussion on 'Writing About The Riots' at the Times of India-Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on Friday. On his panel were three people, who have all been accused, time and again, of reopening 'old wounds' through their journalism on the riots.

Meena Menon, deputy editor of The Hindu, who recently met a man who said the cops only watched as his house was torched, felt the riots were a crucial turning point in Mumbai's communal divide. "A lot of people migrated to Mumbra, Thane and Mira Road after the riots, which later came to be known as terrorist hotbeds," she said.

According to civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad, one of the reasons why Mumbai hasn't fully come to terms with the riots is because none of the perpetrators have been punished yet. "Hatred has become a part of the public life, discourse and internal life," said Setalvad, editor of Communalism Combat magazine, claiming that interns from other cities always tell her they find Mumbai "cruel and rank anti-Muslim". Author and journalist Vaibhav Purandare confessed to having edited out some "horrendous" parts from the first draft of his book The Sena Story, especially those detailing the destruction of shrines, as he found them "extremely disturbing". But Menon felt that it was important to document what happened. "People are now willing to talk," said Menon, who recently met the mother of a woman who had been gangraped in Devipada at the time.

When Naresh Fernandes asked if live television fuelled violence, Setalvad called it a 'beast with which we are grappling'. "While news channels kept showing the Godhra coach, it did not show the corpses of victims of the post Godhra violence. But all the same, it has helped in keeping Gujarat alive," she conceded.