The Print Media and Reporting of Violence: Assam movement in Context
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AbstractIn contemporary India, the press playimportant role in fomenting communal violence at all stages including: (i) theplanning and rehearsal; (ii) the instigation of riots and (iii) theinterpretation phase. In Independent India, the regional press has played acrucial role in the projection of Hindu-Muslim communal violence. In the context of Assam, during theAssam movement (1979- 1985), the regional media took an ambivalent positionwhile reporting the violent incidents. Assamese media was also involved in themodernist programme of the Government of India and therefore we cannot talkAssamese nationalism bypassing the broader Indian Nationalism in this context.During the peak of the Assam movement, the press played a significant role instrengthening the movement by defining its enemy within and outside. Theambivalence played by the Assamese media led to silencing of certain violentevents where a positive image was created for the supporters and a negativeimage for the opponents and non-supporters. Most of the highly circulatednewspaper published from Guwahati and Jorhat were owned mostly Assamese middleclass. Hence, the ambivalence between profit making and maintaining an ideologyto support the movement raised an important question “What and whose purposedoes it serve?” This paper will attempt to question the ambivalence of thepress during the Assam movement drawing instances from Gujarat riots of 2002and Rwanda genocide of 1994.