Gujarat, Kargil, and the demonizing of the Other

IN Media Practice | 17/02/2003
The two events conflate a recently dominant rhetoric of long-suffering, tolerant Hinduism now striking back whether in war or in riot. This connection seems to be missing in media commentaries.



Subarno Chattarji

Department of English, University of Delhi




The horrific events of and following 27 February 2002 in Gujarat have received blanket media coverage and have been written about and discussed in detail. In addition there are reports by NGOs, citizens committees, as well as the National Human Rights Commission, the Election Commission, and the IB. Mainstream English media (both television and print) has almost unanimously condemned the communal bloodletting and dwelt on its consequences for the Indian polity. The language of that coverage has been one of outrage. ‘Pogrom’ and ‘genocide’ have been used frequently to characterize the nature of the atrocities committed. The taboo of not naming the communities to which the victims belong has also been abandoned.


 In the context of the frequency of communal riots in Gujarat (some 106 major riots between 1987 and 1991)[1] and in other parts of the country the media attention might seem excessive. However, as countless analysts have pointed out, this round of rioting has been distinguished by the complicity of state authority (documented in citizens reports such as

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