Should Milli Gazette be allowed to die?
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Its office is tucked away in a corner of one of the many narrow, decrepit lanes of Abu Fazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar, Delhi. Anyone can walk easily into the office, which has no signboard and is situated inside an an old house with a low-rise iron gate. Inside, there are cartons full of newspapers strewn carelessly, lots of books, and people working on old computers.
The nondescript workspace, though, belies the voice of 'Milli Gazette', an English-language fortnightly, which is often quoted by various publications, including international ones such as 'The Guardian', in news stories about India's Muslims. But very soon, though, the newspaper's fate may match that of its workspace. In a recent edition, the 'Milli Gazette' had its first page almost blank, with a column on the side lamenting that not enough Muslims, whose "side of the story" it tells, have supported it by way of subscriptions, and appealing to the community to keep subscribing to the paper, or else, "all pages of MG may look blank as this one".
'Milli Gazette' was started by Zafar-ul-Islam Khan, a journalist from Azamgarh (in a sarcastic tone, he tells us he's from "Atankgarh" when we ask him about his origins) in January 2000, when the BJP was the ruling party at the Centre, and "there was a lot of Islamophobia around"
"We needed to tell our side of the story," he said, though he admits that, for Muslims, getting into the mainstream, non-Urdu media, has "been a very, very old idea, not much realised even today". Eleven years on, MG too seems to be not able to realise that idea. "We've been incurring losses since we began, and we've reached the limit now," says Khan. So, are they shutting down? "If things go on this way, we might," he says.