SURVEY OF BANGALORE BASED KANNADA NEWSPAPERS
This report is a random survey of the Gujarat, on Violence covered in the Newspapers
Period 28 February -16 March 2002.

PRAJAVANI

The coverage of the Gujarat Violence during the period under study in PRAJAVANI is comprehensive both in terms of scale and depth.

PRAJAVANI depended on both agencies and correspondents' stories to bring home the details of the  Gujarat violence. On the very first day of Godhra  incident which became banner lead of the day,  "Prajavani' took care even in giving headline and narrating the incident. It carried a picture of relief team members helping to remove the charred dead bodies.

For the next several days Gujarat violence reports with  pictures dominated page 1. The pictures of burnt   vehicles , burnt tires , charred bodies , burnt shops,  victims in the relief camps, army patrolling, political  leaders visits , protest and peace march were used to depict the violent happenings in the state. The pictures of women pleading for protection with folded hands, an old woman sitting before her burnt house with just a  few vessels and praying for peace with such an agony  on her face are heart rendering. The unforgettable picture of a Muslim youth with folded hands pleading for his life in Ahmedabad which attracted the national attention was also carried in page 1 of `Prajavani'.

The opposition response, the local political leaders` comments were given adequate coverage. Even the concerns expressed by international community to Gujarat Carnage found space in Foreign News  columns. Three Hubli lorries getting burnt in Gujarat and the drivers found missing report appeared from  Hubli which gave Karnataka dimension to the Gujarat Clashes.

"Prajavani ' is the first Kannada Newspaper to depute a correspondent to Gujarat to do, on the spot special  stories. The series of stories done by the correspondent gave vivid accounts of different dimensions of Gujarat violence. It also got the Karnataka angle in the sense that several stories  depicted the pathetic conditions of the people who had migrated to Gujarat from north Karnataka districts in search of jobs, but lost their relatives and properties in the clashes. One story gave a picturesque account of a  village which is known for communal harmony. Human interest story on the plight of victims who were worried about their missing relatives, Kannadiga's plight in Naroda Patiya area which was also called as "Chota  Karnataka ' gave touching account of the victims who suffered in the carnage. One story completely devoted  to depict police atrocities and their blatant support to
attackers. One more story discussed the impact of the clashes on Gujarat economy.
 

 "Prajavni's" editorials which condemned Godhra  incident, which expressed concern over burning Gujarat and which strongly advocated punishment for those political leaders and police chiefs who were responsible for the carnage, never used inflammatory language. They were balanced and got the readers appreciation in the letters to the editor column. However, Prajavani editorials came under fire in the VHP protest rally held in Bangalore on March 3 to condemn Godhra incident. In that meeting even  "Prajavani" copies were burnt protesting against its  editorial stand . Several readers' letters published, condemned Godhra and Gujarat violence. Some editorial page articles such as one from veteran  journalist Kuldip Nayar focussed on "Lessons from Gujarat'. Another from Karnataka state minister B.K. Chandrashekar focussed on Communal hatred and the responsibilities of the Government in dealing the situation.

Prajavani also published some positive pictures and stories in its inside pages. A woman holding Gandhiji's photograph in a peace rally in Delhi, boys holding religious symbols of Hindu, Muslim, Christian in the background of Gandhiji`s picture, a policeman carrying a baby girl who came out in curfew bound Ahmedabad to her house, were helpful in sending the positive message. One more story narrated how a Muslim woman saved three Hindus of whom two were TV channel cameramen.

 "Prajavani" also responded to local events organised to condemn Gujarat violence during the fortnight under  review. Women in Black protest, women peace rally and Human Chain organised by communal harmony committees were some of the events which were covered either as caption stories along with pictures- some in page 1 or as news items in city pages.

In total, the coverage and reportage was restrained and the underlying perspective was to uphold secular values. In Saturday supplement (Karnataka Darshana, 16th March) an article on "Kudremothi Moharam" was  published. It is a folk festival in North Karnataka symbolising Hindu - Muslim integration.
 

C G Manjula