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Wednesday 4 April 2012

Is Media Party to anti-CNT Act Movement in Jharkhand?

Is Media Party to anti-CNT Act Movement in Jharkhand?

By Gladson Dungdung

The Media is known as forth realm of the democracy though it has not been
mentioned in the Constitutional or legal document. Since, the Media plays a
role of watchdog (free, fair and fearless) therefore, it has the legitimacy
of being called the forth realm of the Democracy. However, in the era of
globalization, the media is in the hands of few vested interest groups.
Today, the Jharkhandi media is one of the crucial examples of how it is
being used to protect the vested interest in the state. It is obvious that
since the creation of the state, Jharkhandi Media has been batting hard to
ensure the corporate interest in the state. After the order of the
Jharkhand High Court to enforce the CNT Act in the state, there has been
upheaval in the state. The pro and anti-CNT Act movement started in the
state and the Jharkhandi Media also became a party to the anti-CNT Act

There are three kinds of people reside in Jharkhand – Adivasis (Indigenous
People), Moolvasis (Local Settler non-Adivasis) and Pravasis (Outsiders).
According to the section 46 (A) of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act
1908, one Adivasi can transfer his land only to another Adivasi resident of
the same police station with the permission of the Deputy Commissioner
(DC). Similarly, the Section 46 (B) of the CNT Act states that the SCs and
OBCs can also transfer their land to their community people within the area
of district with the permission of the DC. Since, the CNT Act had been
propagated as a safeguard of only the Adivasis therefore; the land of the
SC and OBC people was transferred without any prohibition and the Adivasis’
land was also transferred by misuse of Act. But after the Court’s order the
land transferred of Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs was stopped in the state,
which hit the real estate business, illegal land grab by the corporate
houses and illegal land transfer to the outsider individual. Since, the
Media has direct interest in the real estate business, industrialization
and individual land transfer to the outsiders therefore, it became a party
to the anti-CNT Act movement.

How media is party to the anti-CNT Act movement? There are some cases,
where the media persons had made arguments with the leaders of pro-CNT Act
after the press conferences or protest programmes. Some TV news channels
did live coverage of some protests organized by the anti-CNT Act group
“Jharkhand Bachao Sangharsh Morch” led by Uday Shankar Ojhar, Niraj Kumar
and Bacha Singh. But the same TV News channels did not give much space to
the pro-CNT Act protest organized by “Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch” led by
Bandhu Tirkey, “Adivasi Chatra Sangh led by Chamra Linda and “Jharkhand
Bachao Andolan’ led by Salkhan Murmu. The News papers also played dubious
role by giving prominent spaces to the anti-CNT Act protests and special
news and views were published against of the CNT Act but the same
Newspapers neglected the pro-CNT Act protests. There are some leading
Newspaper, who had even engaged special correspondents to find out the
cases of violation of CNT Act by the Adivasis and Moolvasis officers,
Bureaucrats and Politicians but at the same time, the same newspapers
didn’t publish any story or list of the outsiders who have grabbed the
Adivasis or Moolvasis’ land illegally.

There are some obvious reasons for the media being party to the anti-CNT
Act movement. Firstly, the Builders who are engaged in the real estate
business in Jharkhand also run TV News Channels in the state. For example,
Bihar origin Builder Sanjay Chaudhary runs the real estate business is
Jhakrhand known as the “Kashish Developers”, who has been developing a
‘SAIL CITY’ at Pundag near Ranchi also owns TV News Channel “Kashish News”.
Interestingly, the green land of Adivasis and OBCs was acquired in the name
of “SAIL Cooperative Society” because the Builder cannot buy land under the
CNT Act. The Builders is also using local police and middle men in
acquiring rest of the land for the SAIL CITY. The other Builders, who
didn’t own TV News Channels or Newspaper, invest huge amount of money in
the media in forms of advertisements. Therefore, the Builders have been
doing all kinds of the power politics to make sure that their business does
not get hampered. They also use the media to manipulate the public opinions
in favour of them. It is obvious that without support of the Builders, many
local news channels will be shut down therefore, the Media has been batting
hard for the real estate business in the name of development of the state
because closing down of the real estate business will have direct impact in
revenue loss of the Media houses.

Secondly, the media has a clear corporate business interest in the name of
development of Jharkhand. For instance, a Jharkhand based wire rope
manufacturing company the “Usha Martine Limited” runs mining projects in
Saranda Forest and elsewhere of Jharkhand is also the owner of a leading
Hindi Newspaper of Jharkhand “Prabhat Khabar”. The “Prabhat Khabar” is one
of the leading media campaigners for industrialization in Jharkhand and
also carries a campaign against CNT Act with the intension to serve special
interest for the outsiders in Jharkhand. The “Prabhat Khabar” has published
series of stories regarding the violation of CNT Act by the Adivasis and
Moolvasis. The papers has also published series of lists of some
Adivasi/Moolvasi Govt. Officers, Bureaucrats and Politicians who have
purchased land by violating the CNT Act but the same Newspaper didn’t
publish any such list of the Pravasis (outsiders) who have grabbed the land
of Adivasis and Moolvasis illegally. Why? Can any media house be biased
like this? Similarly “Dainik Bhashkar” runs many mining projects in
Chhatisgarh and other places, has launched its Jharkhand edition a year
before, eying the minerals of Jharkhand, has also been advocating for the
corporate model of development, which is against of Jharkhandi culture.

Thirdly, the composition of the Jharkhandi media is self-explanatory to
rest of the story. Nearly 90 percent Journalists, engaged in Jharkhandi
media houses come from non-Jharkhand origin upper caste. The Hindi dailies
and Hindi News Channels are completely dominated either by the Bihar or UP
origin upper caste Journalists and the English dailies are under the clutch
of either West Bengal or South-Indian origin upper caste. Similarly, most
of the Builders, Industrialists and individual land grabbers are also
outsiders, who have direct or indirect association with the Media. Hence,
the Media persons bat hard to protect the interest of the outsiders.
Though, Jharkhand is known as an Adivasi state but hardly any Adivasi is
found in the media. There are few Adivasi and Moolvasi Journalists at the
last rung of the Media, who have also been struggling for their survival
therefore; they are not able to influence the media to protect the interest
of the state.

Fourthly, though Jharkhand is a separate state in the political map of
India but the media treat the state as part of Bihar. There is a tradition
of joint TV News channels “Jharkhand-Bihar” in the state. The major
regional News channels like Sahara Samay, ETV, Kashis News, News11, Maurya
TV, etc, run joint News Channels for “Bihar-Jharkhand”. The print media
even goes beyond. The every Newspaper carries special “Bihar” page in its
all editions in Jharkhand. Hence, the people of Bihar origin residing in
Jharkhand get news of the both states in the same price and the Jharkhandi
people also have to pay the price for them and forced to read the news of
Bihar. The most stunning thing is the same Newspapers do not publish
special “Jharkhand” page in their Bihar’s editions though numbers of
Jharkhandi people live in Bihar for the jobs. Why? Is it not true that the
Jharkhandi Media serve special interest of Bihar in Jharkhand? Should media
do anything like this merely to serve its business interest? Is media
selling a product in the market or playing a role of a watchdog in the

Fifthly, most of the Media’s consumers are the Pravasis (outsiders)
therefore the media protects the interest of its consumers rather than
Jharkhand and its people. The conclusion of the media campaigns is that the
CNT Act should be either repealed or amended so that the outsiders can buy
the land of the Adivasis and Moolvasis in Jharkhand. Secondly, the media
has been attempting to humiliate the Adivasis with the intention to
alienate them from their land stating that if one Adivasi sells his land to
another Adivasi means selling land at the rate of garbage therefore all the
Adivasis should sell their lands to the non-Adivasis if they want to become
a developed one. Thirdly, the Media advocating to legalize the illegal
encroachments by the outsiders in HEC (Ranchi), BSL (Bokaro) and Dhanbad,
etc and also legalize the illegally grabbed land by the outsiders under the
CNT Act.

The question is where is the media ethics gone in Jharkhand? Why Jharkhandi
media is biased instead of being free, fair and fearless? And are the media
houses becoming merely the product seller non-ethical companies whose
intension is only to earn profit at any cost? Since the inception of the
state, the Jharkhandi Media has been carrying on anti-Jharkhand campaign to
serve the corporate interest and special interest of the Pravasis
(outsiders), and the Media’s anti-CNT campaign is merely an addition to its
anti-Jharkhandi campaign. However, today, the Jharkhandi media needs to
rethink about its role for the sake of the Democracy? The present role of
Jharkhandi media is not only against of Jharkhandi people but it is against
of the media ethics, its credibility and the democracy as a whole.

*Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and General Secretary of
‘Jharkhand Human Rights Movement’.

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