5000 dead by Nepal earthquake, even more injured, but for Indian media it’s a case of ‘holy cow!’

30 April 2015 11:51 PM AEST: India and Pakistan are at a full-blown media war which was triggered by a spicy headline, if one can believe, about a food item that Pakistan sent to disaster-stricken Nepal.

Pakistan's relief materials to the victims of Nepal earthquake.
Pakistan’s relief materials to the victims of Nepal earthquake. Photo: Daily Mail

It is hard to believe that the Indian and Pakistani media are currently squabbling over as trivial a matter as ‘beef masala’ that Daily Mail said hurt the feelings of the people of Nepal, a predominantly Hindu country. Hindus do not eat beef as cows are sacred animals to them.

Media leaders in Nepal are amazed that some of their foreign colleagues think the subject worthy of a story amid a catastrophe that has left millions foodless and homeless.

The battle of headlines started when Daily Mail quoted an Indian doctor (working at Bir Hospital as member of India’s earthquake response team) who claimed he saw ready to eat ‘beef masala’ sent by Pakistan that he suggested contained beef, a charge Pakistan denied today, April 30.

A host of Indian media outlets immediately and enthusiastically followed suit.

The irony is that no media house in Nepal had reported anything of the sort prior to these ‘beef reports’.

India Today’s headline said, “Pakistan beef relief: Blame game begins, Islamabad denies information.”

IBN Live: “Outrage after Pakistan sends beef masala as relief material to quake-hit Nepal”

The most interesting headline was that of Zee News which goes, “Pakistan sends ready-to-eat ‘beef masala’ as food aid to ‘Hindu kingdom.'”

Times of India Group: “At This Time Of Crisis, Pakistan Tries To Send Over Some ‘Beef-Relief’ To Hindu-Majority Nepal.”

Pakistan, on the other hand, has vehemently denied hurting the sentiment of the Nepali people by ‘serving’ a beef dish. Pakistani media reported that foreign spokesperson Tasnim Aslam denied the accusation. “Urging the Indian media not to ‘malign’ the humanitarian assistance effort in Nepal, Aslam said the people of Nepal really liked the food dispatched by Pakistan and even requested for more,” The Express Tribune reported on Thursday.

Leaders in Nepal’s media industry have condemned the lopsided reporting of the Indian media. They argue that as Pakistan is a beef-eating Muslim country, it is not entirely impossible for them to send the beef items as part of the relief materials.

Federation of Nepali Journalists, an umbrella organisation of over ten thousand members from across the

Dr. Mahendra Bista
Dr. Mahendra Bista

country, has suggested such reportage in the Indian media may incite Nepal’s public against Pakistan, a country with friendly terms with Nepal. It said these reports were against the code of conduct of Press Council Nepal.

According to onlinekhabar.com, the Federation’s president Dr. Mahendra Bista appreciated India’s positive initiatives in these catastrophic times but warned any activities that could hurt Nepal’s goodwill with other friendly nations and undermine Nepal’s sovereignty would not be tolerated.

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