On Monday, the Uttar Pradesh police got into action in the case of a group of journalists of an all-women newspaper who were being harassed and stalked by a caller. Before that they had been ignoring the case and brushing it off as ‘ordinary’. The police came into action soon after the plight of the journalists became a national sensation when the editor of the paper, Khabar Lahariya, wrote in detail about the harassment in The Ladies Finger
. And soon after getting into action, they were able to nab the caller who had been stalking women journalists from a rural newspaper of the state. It was a remarkable victory for the women. So what is Khabar Lahariya and how is it different from others?
Khabar Lahariya is a weekly 8-page newspaper published in four dialects of Hindi from UP and Bihar. The paper is run by an all-women group of journalists.
Thanks to their hard work and resilience, Khabar Lahariya has grown from a small group of six reporters and around 1000 copies a week readership to 40 women reporters with a readership of 80,000 per week.
The newspaper is circulated in 800 villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and is weekly printed in Bundeli, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Hindustani and Bajjika for its readers. The local newspaper also has an online presence with a website and social media accounts.
A majority of the women journalists working for the paper come from lower castes and minority communities. They report on things that they have personally lived and experienced.
They cover stories varying from hard core politics to social challenges like crime and sexual violence in their area, to the skewed sex ratio and low literacy rates in their states to caste and gender. With their hard work and dedication, the group now commands immense respect and attention even from their male readers and government officials, who had earlier ignored them.
With their will they have also sent out a message to mainstream media, who seem to cover only those stories that have some kind of ‘masala’
involved in it, a point which even Disha Mullick, Director of Outreach, Women Media and News (WoMeN) Trust, agrees:
“They do the kind of reporting that mainstream media ignores, be it challenging power structures, mining quarries or the administration.”
To make their points heard, the team also declines advertisements that have feature any casteism, fundamentalism, sexism, violence or superstition.