While the Supreme Court has now ordered a stay on the planned eviction of nearly 4,000 families in Banbhoolpura of Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, the locality, over the past few weeks, has seen demonstrations against the authorities as well as against “godi media”.
Referred to as “land jihadis”, “tukde tukde gang”, “Rohingya” and “terrorists” by sections of the media in the wake of the protests, local residents have been vigilant against any report which could impact communal amity. Reporters from certain channels have also faced sloganeering during the protests.
Most of Banbhoolpura’s residents are Muslim, and many say that sections of the media continue to criminalise their community and propagate a vicious political agenda.
Over two weeks after an Uttarakhand high court order allowed the forceful eviction of nearly 50,000 people on what the Railways claims is its land, the apex court had noted this week that such a large number of people could not be uprooted overnight. Residents claim that they have been living in the area for decades. The area also has several government schools, private schools, overhead tanks, several religious sites and business establishments.
Several protesters, however, told Newslaundry that there has been a bias in mainstream media’s reportage.
“We helped these reporters with their stories and provided them with all information from the ground but we were upset and furious when the same reporters portrayed us as terrorists and land jihadis on prime time shows,” said Shadab, a resident of Banbhoolpura.
While the apex court will next hear the matter on February 7, several channels continue to cover the issue through a communal lens.
“Jihadis are not just people who hold weapons but also those from the media who wrongly use their cameras and mics,” said another resident.