Urdu Press This Week (Feb 8-14 ) : Azad’s apologetic ‘proud Indian’ claim, Hamid Ansari’s sophistry and other stories

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By Quamar Ashraf

Besides the below-mentioned issues, Uighur Muslims’ persecution and allowing Muslim girl right to marry after reaching puberty remained in focus this week. Expansion of Bihar cabinet and Bengal polls and Amit Shah’s announcement to implement CAA after coronavirus vaccination drive too were talked about but there was routineness in coverage. Disappointedly, the Urdu papers seem to lack writers as one article published in a paper is more often than not carried out by several publications.

PM’ Modi’s teary-eyed farewell to Azad, Modi’s sensitivity during Gujarat riots

Much of the focus was laid on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s teary-eyed farewell speech, heaping praise on Ghulam Nabi Azad in reference to a 2007 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir on visitors from Gujarat. Urdu newspapers broadly didn’t give much credence to the tear as several articles/edits raise question on its genuineness. Had Modi showed the same degree of sensitivity during 2002 Gujarat communal riots when innocents were butchered for days and weeks during his chief ministership, people would definitely take his tears with seriousness, writes Masoom Moradabadi (Inquilab, February 11). Dr Saleem Khan in his article (SKA, February 12) calls it “crocodile tears”, saying the tears “were not shed for Ghulam Nabi Azad but for the deaths of eight Gujarati people”. “How dubious the tears appear to be when Article 370 was scrapped and people of Kashmir were forced to live under curfew for months, there was no empathy for them?” Farooque Ansari (Urdu Times, February 12) raises apprehension that Azad could be given some position by the BJP and takes a swipe at Modi for not showing the “same emotion” on targeted killings of Muslims. PM should also feel pain of Kashmiris, writes Dr Syed Islamuddin Mujahid in Munsif (February 12). Rashiduddin in in his article (Siasat, February 14) calls it “a drama”, reminding PM of the deaths and destructions during 2002 Gujarat riots.

Azad’s claim of “proud Indian” was carried on front page of all newspapers with many carrying edits/articles raising speculation that the Kashmiri leader could join the BJP. PM’s praise and proud Indian claim by Azad trigger speculation that Azad could join BJP, but he made it clear that it would “happen only when there’s black snow in Kashmir” (Inquilab, February 13). Nadeem Abdul Qadeer in UT (February 13) pointed out that Azad’s apologetic approach – proud Indian Muslim claim – in return of Modi’s ‘emotional outburst’ shows the Kashmiri leader is yet get rid of ‘complexes’ even after spending decades in mainstream politics.

Core Muslim concerns

Routinely some pieces pointing out on the reasons for incessant decadence of Muslims were carried out in several papers. In this regard, Dr Manzoor Alam’s article “Muslims responsibility in the changing situation” (Sahafat 5, MW 5, AEM 5 February 12 and SKW 5 Feb 13) was given prominence. Mr Alam referring to the Quranic verse: “Hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided” urges Muslims to get united, offering remedies for it as well. Mr Alam appeals to Muslims to stay away from misgivings and backbiting which, according to him, are two ills afflicting the community and are main sources of disunity. He further calls upon Muslims to stick to Islamic values and ethics besides focusing on education.

Kaleemul Hafeez article (Rashtriya Sahara, February 12) better sums up Muslim mindset of “wasting time and energy in finding faults in others” instead doing something for themselves, encouraging Muslims to shun hopelessness and carved way for themselves in the current situation instead of sitting idle “waiting for emergence of Imam Mendi or the second coming of Jesus Christ (SAW)”. The article calls upon Muslims to focus on education, business, politics and everything which they enjoy as citizens of the country. The article also yearns for raising Muslim leadership.

Hamid Ansari’s criticism for being too diplomatic in calling a spade a spade
Interviews of former Vice-President Hamid Ansari in the backdrop of his book “By Many a Happy Accident” evoked considerable interests though several pieces in different publications were not friendly to him due to his sophistry in taking on the Hindutva right-wing. However, in an interview with Abdul Bari Masoud Siasat (February 14), Ansari stated clearly that he stood by what he wrote, but the statement was insufficient to earn for him applaud from the Urdu press, probably due to use of diplomatically crafted words in assailing right-wing nationalist government of Narendra Modi coupled with his reluctance to call a spade a spade – share of blame also goes to his decades of diplomatic career. Most of the papers gave credence to his statement that neutrality of state is diminishing in respect of secularism. Some edits/articles underlined that Ansari wrote nothing new in his book. Most of the issues he raised and incidents he pointed out have been a matter of concerns among a vast section of intellectuals, academicians and rights activists.

Modi’s insensitivity towards protesting farmers

Since there were not much noteworthy development in farmers’ protest, the issue was not handled with any new dimension. Yet mostly assailed the government for showing insensitivity towards them. Asim Jalal in Inquilab (February 14) stated that the government’s pro-rich approach has not been widely recognised in the wake of mahapanchayats (big village assemblies) are being organised in various parts of the country. The article underlines that the government is increasingly becoming unpopular among the sections which solidly stood by Modi. “If Modi sticks to its stubborn attitude towards the farm bills, he is bound to face several electoral jolts in polls.” Other papers equally played out photographs of farmers mahapanchayats sparing significant space on the issue. However, some articles/edits took a swipe at “insensitive” approach of Modi-Shah whose only aim is to win elections.

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The writer, a media analyst, can be reached at quamar.ashraf@gmail.com

Papers/Portal scanned: Inquilab, Siasat, Munsif, Etemaad, Sahafat, Rashtriya Sahara Urdu , Hamara Samaj , Hindustan Express , Mera Watan , Sach ki Awaz, Siyasi Taqdeer, Urdu Times, Mumbai Urdu Times, and The Wire Urdu.

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