Ram Mandir coverage vs how journalists covered Babri Masjid demolition

On December 6, 1992, kar sevaks had gathered at Ayodhya to offer a symbolic prayer and eventually brought down the Babri Masjid.
Ram temple vs Babri Masjid demolition coverage
Ram temple vs Babri Masjid demolition coverage
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The upcoming consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya has dominated Indian media with anchors and reporters enthusiastically participating in the religious festivities, most of them ignoring the political and legal complexities of the issue. In stark contrast, on December 6, 1992, journalists covering the Babri Masjid demolition faced intimidation, obstruction, physical assault, and even destruction of their equipment. How did the press cover the demolition of the Babri Masjid? What were the challenges the journalists faced on the ground?

On December 6, 1992, when the media gathered at Ayodhya for the culmination of the rath yatra, the passes for the event were issued by the VHP. The passes were checked multiple times before journalists were allowed to enter an enclosure erected as a viewing gallery. But it did not stop there. Journalists were also frisked, reporters were divested of pens, notepads and dictaphones, and those from visual media were not allowed to take their recording devices.

Another journalist recalled that the VHP was focussing on journalists who were left-leaning or Muslim or deemed to be anti-BJP. Since this was the pre-social media era, in the absence of widespread recognition of journalists, the kar sevaks were looking for these journalists based on their bylines, though not familiar with their faces.

Suman Gupta, a young woman reporter who worked with one such left-leaning publication named Jan Morcha, was singled out. Journalists who were present there recall Suman being whisked away by the kar sevaks and thrown into a 3-4-foot deep pit that had been dug to prevent her from seeing and reporting on what was happening.

Praveen Jain, a photographer from The Telegraph, has narrated how a day before the demolition, VHP leader BL Sharma gave him access to photograph the preparations for December 6 and there, Praveen captured the rehearsal for the impending destruction.

But on the fateful day, the mob turned on him. His camera, a potential witness, was targeted. The film was pulled out and scratched, erasing vital evidence.

Watch TNM’s Pooja Prasanna narrate the obstacles faced by journalists in their coverage of the Babri Masjid demolition.

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