Around mid-February, a prominent Hindi news channel carried a report which claimed that prominent Shia leader Kalbe Jawwad had extolled the BJP while condemning its main rival, the Samajwadi Party (SP). A day later, an independent non-profit portal, the Muslim Mirror, published a counter-report, “Battle for UP: Shias in Lucknow upset with this BJP,” rubbishing the narrative that the Shias were likely to support the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The story said that the Shias and Sunnis have come together to defeat the BJP, even though in the past leaders, like Lalji Tandon and Atal Bihari Vajpayee have reached out to the Shia community. “Ban on rituals during Muharram, crackdown on illegal slaughter houses that impacted the sale of meat, police atrocities on anti-CAA protestors and now the hijab controversy have made the Shia community in Lucknow give a second thought to their support to the BJP,” wrote Muslim Mirror, underlining that recent political developments have brought the two Muslim sects closer.
This was not an isolated instance. Over the past few years, several news portals owned and run by Muslims have emerged—to narrate stories of the community and other marginalised groups from a perspective different from the majoritarian viewpoint. The pioneer among such portals was TwoCircles.net (2006), followed by the Muslim Mirror (2012), Maktoob Media (2014) and Clarion India (2013). For several years, TCN was the major voice among the Muslim media, but their numbers grew when the community felt that a section of mainstream media houses were increasingly portraying the community in poor light. The new Muslim-run portals include Millat Times (2016), The Cognate (2018), The Hindustan Gazette (2021) and Maktoob Media (2014).