It’s all quiet on the TV front, or almost, for the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya, Saturday morning, as anchors and panelists made statesmanlike statements. This is a victory for India, was the echo across channels.
However, sparks flew across the border as Pakistan’s news channels compared their message of peace for Kartarpur with the ‘divisive’ SC verdict in India.
News anchors across channels tried hard to be on their best behavior – and when Arnab Goswami yelled, it was to control his unruly bench of panelists whom he reproached for treating this ‘historic’ verdict just like any other ‘political debate’ (Republic).
Elsewhere, it was goodwill and peace towards all.
As the SC’s verdict on Ayodhya became clear, the English news channels tried to tell it like it was: “There will be a mandir at the site,” announced Republic is sober headlines but Goswami couldn’t help adding, “Bharat ki jeet!” (Republic).
A subdued Navika Kumar declared on “#TimesNow for peace” that “it was a unanimous decision… all outstanding disputes set to rest…”
“Decks cleared for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya,’’ said News X. “Disputed land to Hindus,’’ clarified Mirror Now, which CNN News18 reversed into “Hindus get disputed land”.
NDTV 24×7 maintained a stoic front and simply quoted from the “final verdict”. CNN News18 described the verdict in an even handed manner: “A plus for Hindus, a positive for Muslims.”
Hindi news: While English channels strived for sobriety, the Hindi news channels were in a more celebratory mood: “Ram Lalla jeet gaya,” said ABP News and News 24, “Ram mandir ka raasta saaf’’ was how AajTak and India TVannounced the judgment.
“Verdict goes in favour of Ram mandir…Ram mandir will be built in Ramjanambhoomi,’’ exulted India TV.
Zee News began to chant “Ayodhya mein Jai Shree Ram’’ and “Mandir wahin banegi” even as one heard shouts of “Jai jai Ram, Sita Ram…”
News Nation went to the drawing board and came back with a 3D representation of the new temple to be constructed at Ayodhya.
Meanwhile, the judges were clearly satisfied with a job well done: “CJI to take Ayodhya verdict bench to Taj Mansingh” for dinner, revealed CNN News 18.
Geo TV: While the News Broadcasting Authority banned the Babri Masjid demolition footage from all news channels in India, Geo TV played the footage on a loop alongside highlights of the SC verdict.
The anchor also termed the Babri Masjid demolition as a shahdat (sacrifice) and Sheikh Rasheed, Pakistan’s railway minister, called the verdict a “blot” on India.
There was also a comparison between Pakistan’s apparent display of love and brotherhood with the inauguration of the long-awaited Kartarpur Corridor and the Supreme Court’s decision, which was painted as divisive.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, questioned the timing of the judgment on the day of Kartarpur Corridor’s inauguration. “The Hindustan of Gandhi and Nehru is buried, this is the India of (Narendra) Modi and the RSS,” he said. “Pakistan should be thankful to Jinnah because he anticipated this, years earlier”.
Tasneem Aslam, Pakistani diplomat, claimed that it was obvious that the SC was under the BJP and RSS’ pressure. “This was an unfortunate but an expected decision,” she said.
Express News: Express’ headlines also compared news of the Kartarpur Corridor which, it said was “Pakistan’s sabse bada taufa (biggest gift) to its Sikh community” and the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.
The anchor said Pakistan had built the world’s biggest gurudwara but in Kashmir they’re not even letting Muslims pray on Eid.
General Moinuddin Haider, a guest on the show, conceded that the verdict was a “balanced decision”, and Muslims should happily accept this. He added that the alternative place granted to Muslims should move the community to collect money and build a grand mosque in the new land. “The most important thing is for there to not be any khoon kharaba (bloodshed or violence).”
However, he added that violence against Muslims will be the end of India. “Shiddhat pasandi (extremism) badh rahi hain”. “Yeh shiddat pasandi Hindustan ke tukde kar degi”, he said.
“Musalmani dushmani (Muslim enmity) has become state policy”, chimed in the anchor.
Samaa TV: Anchors Faraz Amhed and Sheherbano Awan said the verdict proved that the Supreme Court had fallen to its knees before the Hindus.
Pakistan offered the Sikh community the gift of Kartarpur and in return, India has stripped the Babri Masjid land from the Muslims.
In conversation with Samaa TV, Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry termed the verdict “illegal” and “immoral”.
Inputs by Shailaja Bajpai