New Delhi: The Gyanvapi Masjid row continued to dominate the front pages of the Urdu press this past week, along with reports about more mosques being in the crosshairs of Hindutva groups.
Other issues that were prominently featured included the Bihar government’s decision to carry out a caste census, the spate of targeted killings in the Kashmir Valley, and the reported drop in the number of Muslim candidates clearing the civil services exam.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that the organisation was not interested in launching any more temple agitations, and the turmoil in the Congress, were also given top billing.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of headlines and editorials in the Urdu press this week.
Gyanvapi, RSS & India’s foundations
Recent developments surrounding the Gyanvapi dispute, including the claims of a ‘Shivling’ being found in the mosque premises, took up a chunk of space in the Urdu papers, along with initial rumblings of trouble brewing elsewhere.
In its lead story on 1 June, Inquilab reported that the alleged leak of a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque had caused consternation among Muslims as well as Hindus, with both raising demands ranging from a court-monitored probe to a CBI inquiry into the matter.
On 3 June, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara reported on its front page that despite the matter still being sub judice, an announcement had allegedly been made by Hindu groups to worship the purported ‘Shivling’ at the Gyanvapi mosque. Inquilab too carried a report on its front page suggesting that 4 June had been declared as the date for the ‘jalabhishek’ (initiation ritual) of the ‘Shivling’.
Siasat on its 29 May front page carried a story about a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of certain sections of the Places of Worship Act, 1991.
On 2 June, the paper carried as its lead story a statement from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, an organisation of Islamic scholars, asking television channels to refrain from discussing the Gyanvapi issue.
“The matter is sub judice in the Varanasi sessions court and the decision will be made by the courts and not on television channels,” Siasat quoted the organisation as saying.
The lead story of Inquilab on 2 June focused on the call given by some Hindu groups to organise a puja at the Jamia mosque in Karnataka’s Srirangapatna on 4 June. There have been claims that the mosque was built after the demolition of a Hanuman temple, the paper said.
That same day, another story on the paper’s front page referred to similar claims being made about the Alamgir Mosque at Varanasi’s Panchganga Ghat standing where a temple dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu once stood.
The front page of Inquilab on 3 June carried RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that the outfit was not in favour of launching any more agitations for temples. Meanwhile, Siasat, on its front page on 29 May, carried a statement by Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik that “all 30,000 temples which were destroyed” to make way for mosques “will be taken back”.
A 31 May editorial in Inquilab, without pointing to the mosque-temple issue, decried that unlike riots, the effects of which lasted only a few days, controversies involving religion are more detrimental to the social fabric of the country. These controversies, the piece warned, could shake the very foundations of Indian society.
Muslim candidates & UPSC
On 31 May, both Sahara and Inquilab carried reports on the results of the civil services exam declared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The report highlighted that the top three ranks were secured by women and 685 candidates (508 men and 177 women) had cleared the test.
Sahara, in a 31 May editorial about the civil services exam, said that the percentage of successful Muslim candidates has dipped as compared to previous years. Of the 685 candidates who cleared the exam this time, Muslim candidates (23) accounted for only 4 per cent, the report said.
“What is the reason for this? An attempt should be made to find out the reasons behind the failure of most of the Muslim candidates, or the reason why their preparation was not excellent,” the editorial said.
Spotlight on PM’s statements
The Urdu press also covered announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this past week extensively.
On 29 May, Sahara’s lead story talked about the central government’s plans to build the world’s first nano urea liquid plant in Gujarat’s Kalol. The article carried pictures of Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
A day later, the PM was featured once again on Sahara’s front page along with his statement about the rapid growth of unicorns in India.
Siasat’s lead story on 1 June about the PM’s statement in Shimla that the poor had finally begun to benefit from government schemes, termed the remarks as “Pradhan sewak ki khush fehmi (prime servant’s rosy impression).”
On 2 June, Modi made it to the front page of Siasat yet again, this time, in a photo alongside World Boxing Championship gold medalist Nikhat Zareen.
ED summons to Sonia, Rahul
News about the Congress was also given prominent coverage.
Siasat, in a report on its front page on 1 June, carried Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement that the country has not forgotten the “pain” of demonetisation. The statement also made it to the front page of Inquilab.
On 2 June, Sahara reported the summons issued to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged money laundering case linked to the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.
Inquilab also carried the story with a picture of the press conference held by Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, where they criticised the ED notices.
Siasat’s 2 June front page carried Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s statement that the party will continue its fight till it emerges victorious in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP & caste census in Bihar
Inquilab on 2 June reported that a consensus had been reached during an all-party meet in Bihar to carry out a caste-based census. The report noted that all political parties, including the BJP in Bihar, had given their consent to the exercise.
On 2 June, an editorial in Siasat underlined the importance of a caste-based census in Bihar, saying that the state’s politics revolves around caste.
“Bihar’s politics revolves around caste rather than issues. The same is true of Uttar Pradesh. There is also a demand from many quarters that a census be conducted on the basis of caste,” the editorial read.
The editorial further said that even in other states, where the population of Backward Castes is high, demands are being made to determine the population of members of different castes by conducting a census.
“…the BJP is known as a party of the upper castes. In the party, important and big posts are given only to the upper castes while votes are obtained from the backward classes. That is why the BJP has so far not openly opposed the caste-based census,” the editorial added.
Attacks on Kashmiri Pandits
Sahara carried a report on 2 June saying that a group of Kashmiri Pandits has begun preparing for a mass evacuation of their village in the Kashmir Valley in response to the targeted killings of non-Muslims by terrorists.
Employed under a government scheme, members of the group said that they met with truck owners Wednesday to discuss freight rates, according to the report.
On 3 June, Inquilab too carried a front page story about Kashmiri Pandits holding demonstrations to protest the targeted killings. It also reported the killing of a migrant worker in Srinagar’s Budgam.
Another report in Inquilab carried details about a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to review the security situation in J&K.
Sahara, citing a source, reported that the Union Home Ministry has sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on the targeted killings of civilians in the Valley.
Stating that Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley are worried about their safety, a 3 June editorial in Sahara asked: “Where will the administration transfer and protect the people of other religions who are under attack?”
The editorial went on to add that giving these attacks a “religious colour” will not solve the problem, while calling for the need for closer examination.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)