Skip to main content

Ayodhya region editor reputed for 'promoting' communal harmony despite threats

By Bharat Dogra* 
Sheetla Singh, the great Hindi editor from Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, breathed his last on May 16.
He was 93, and was on duty till the last day in his editorial office when he collapsed.
Bringing out a small cooperative newspaper is not easy in the best of times, but it becomes more difficult when the editor has a tendency to frequently incur the wrath of the most powerful persons. Adding an important local factor, this task becomes even more difficult when the newspaper is coming out from Faizabad, located just near Ayodhya, and when the editor is committed to standing up for communal harmony even in times of worst communal tensions.
Despite all these difficulties, if Sheetla Singh and his colleagues have been able to bring out Jan Morcha newspaper from 1958 to 2023 for 65 years, then it is a tribute to their resilience, hard work, courage and close connect with people.
It was in 1958 that two left-oriented journalists and activists, Sheetla Singh (then 28 years old) and Hargobind were able to fulfill their dream of starting this newspaper, with the initial investment being contributed by the lifetime savings of Hargobind amounting to Rs 75. In 1963 Hargobind asked Sheetla Singh to be the editor and Sheetla Singh has been in the editor’s chair for the last 60 years.
During this period of 65 years Jan Morcha has become one of the few local newspapers to acquire a national reputation. As the Ayodhya region had seen so much happening which was of national significance, Jan Morcha became the most sought after newspaper for keeping in touch with the affairs of this region.
Sheetla Singh did not hesitate to go out of his way, incurring lot of risk by helping communal harmony activists
Jan Morcha acquired and maintained its reputation of a people-centric approach to various issues and happenings. On issues of most urgency for this region Jan Morcha always remained committed to communal harmony and when occasion demanded, Sheetla Singh did not hesitate to go out of his way and incurred a lot of risk by helping communal harmony activists and investigations to uncover the truth of issues and happening which needed to be reported accurately. If for such stand and commitment he and his colleagues faced threats, well, they were willing to live with these.
Sheetla Singh also contributed much to obtaining better working conditions for journalists and newspaper employees at a wider level. He was the President of the UP Working Journalists Union as well as member of various wage boards.
He was for four terms a member of the Press Council of India. He will also be remembered for contributing to the discussions and debates on institutional conditions in which journalists and editors can better contribute to society and can hope to function in more free conditions, free not just from government interference but also from big business interests.
It is an amazing and impressive achievement that Jan Morcha has been able to continue regularly for such a long time in adverse conditions, having about 50 colleagues working full-time today, apart from those who serve it in part-time positions. This newspaper will miss the great and inspiring leadership of Sheetla Singh, but the best tribute to him will be for this newspaper, and others like this, to continue the march and go from strength to strength.
---
*Has contributed articles and reports on issues of high social relevance for a long time

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.