'Paper tigers should be shunned by media'

Maya Prasad, 42, was born and brought up in Bihar but has been staying in Mumbai for the last 20 years.

Married to an investment banker, she has witnessed Bombay riots in 1993, serial train blasts in 2006, terrorists’ attack in 2008 and the tirade unleashed by Thackeray brothers against the Biharis in the last couple of years.
But she is not perturbed one bit.

“Both the Sena – Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and its parent organisation, the Shiv Sena-- will continue to spew venom against Biharis, as the presidents of both the parties get wide national and international coverage once they target people from this part of the cow-belt.

The print and electronic media are, to a large extent, responsible for making them “heroes”. Once you boycott covering their hate speech, they will stop roaring. So my humble request to all mediamen is to shun these paper  tigers, so that no monster is created unnecessarily,” she told Deccan Herald, during her visit here.

But has she ever faced any discrimination for being a native of Bihar? “Not at all. In fact, the people of Maharashtra are so well behaved and cultured that you will never feel like an alien. But yes, over the years, we too have become well versed with the Maharashtrian culture and language and participate in Ganesh Chaturthi with same enthusiasm as they join us for Chhath,” she argued.

Untouched by rhetorics

This means the common Biharis staying in Mumbai are untouched by rhetorics of Raj and Uddhav? “Absolutley. In Mumbai, the pace of life is so fast that no one has the time to find out whether he is from Bihar, Gujarat or Bengal,” said Nitin, who is a senior officer working with an insurance company in Mumbai. Nitin was in Patna this week to meet his parents where he narrated to this correspondent about Raj and his goon’s gimmicks.

“Occasionally, all they will do is to send their henchmen to bash up auto and taxi drivers. Some of them will smash window panes while others will shoot and prepare a CD. The CD will then eventually be “leaked” to media and in this age of 24 hours TV news channel, we will get to see the MNS mayhem hundred times,” the engineer-turned-administrative officer in an insurance company said.

“Who has the time to discriminate? Here, life begins at 5 am and ends at 1 am… or as some say… Mumbai never sleeps. Who cares whether I am from Bihar or UP or Punjab? So don’t blindly trust what you see on TV channels,” Nitin cautioned.

But then there are persons like Rambaran who, as a daily-wage labourer, have been at the receiving end of MNS goons. Working for a real-estate firm in Pune, he and his fellow Bihari brethren were singled out, dragged and thrashed two years back. “They (the MNS goons) not only roughed up mercilessly but also asked us to board the first available train to Bihar. Since then, I have returned to my native place in Vaishali. Mercifully, so much of construction work (roads, schools, bridges, MNREGA) is going on here that I manage to earn almost similar amount here.“Ghar par hai parivar ke saath, aur izzat bhi hai. (I am staying with my family at my home. Besides, my self-respect is intact here),” he said.

Agreed with him Shahood Raza, who has studied in Patna but works for a Mumbai-based multi-national company. “Both the Thackeray brothers will target people from the lowest strata - be it the labour class or auto and taxi drivers. The middle class and upper class Biharis, who are well-employed, are hardly ever disturbed,” he argued, and like other persons,  whom Deccan Herald talked to, echoed a similar sentiment: “The day you media people black out such divisive elements, the entire problem (read: hate mongering) will die a natural death.”

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