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It's for the voiceless

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REPRESENTATIVE: (From left) Wife of a farmer who committed suicide Sharadamma; editor of Jana Shakthi S.Y. Gurushant; former chemical factory worker Huchchanna; Gangulappa, a Dalit and prime witness in the Kambalapalli carnage case; beedi worker Rahi ma Taj; Jnanapeeth award-winner U.R. Ananthamurthy; State Secretary of the CPI(M) G.N. Nagaraj; CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury; Savithri Bai, a victim of the Devadasi practice; and G.V. Sriram Reddy, MLA, at the release of Jana Shakthi in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
REPRESENTATIVE: (From left) Wife of a farmer who committed suicide Sharadamma; editor of Jana Shakthi S.Y. Gurushant; former chemical factory worker Huchchanna; Gangulappa, a Dalit and prime witness in the Kambalapalli carnage case; beedi worker Rahi ma Taj; Jnanapeeth award-winner U.R. Ananthamurthy; State Secretary of the CPI(M) G.N. Nagaraj; CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury; Savithri Bai, a victim of the Devadasi practice; and G.V. Sriram Reddy, MLA, at the release of Jana Shakthi in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Special Correspondent

Weekly newspaper launched by representatives of this class

BANGALORE: It was a media launch of a different kind. There was no flashily dressed VIP to release the first issue of "Jana Shakthi", a weekly Kannada newspaper brought out by the State unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Instead, the honours were done by representatives of the voiceless whose concerns the newspaper promises to address.

On the dais were Huchchanna, a chemical factory worker who was thrown out of his job after losing his finger while on duty; Gangulappa, an elderly Dalit and the prime witness in the Kambalapalli carnage case, who saw his relatives being burnt alive; Savithri Bai, a 26-year-old woman who was forced into the evil Devadasi practice and later liberated herself from its clutches; Sharadamma, the widow of a poor farmer who committed suicide two years ago when his two newly drilled borewells failed; and Rahima Taj, a beedi worker who is now fighting to organise together her fellow beedi workers. They were the VIPs of the show and were warmly applauded by the audience.

Sharadamma could not even read the name of the newspaper she released. In fact, she held the newspaper upside down while posing for the photographers after releasing its first issue. Her innocence tugged at the heartstrings of the audience and made them feel for her plight.

Jnanapeeth award-winner U.R. Ananthamurthy and CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury were delighted to remain in the background.

Mr. Yechury said that the country was divided into two categories suffering India and shining India. Those who released the first issue of the newspaper belonged to suffering India, a group that was not represented well in the media while Shining India got coverage.

Dr. Ananthamurthy recalled how an earlier avatar of Jana Shakthi was edited in 1947 by noted writer Niranjana, who had influenced people through his forceful writings. He welcomed the paper and its ideals.

Jana Shakthi editor S.Y. Gurushant said that the newspaper would focus mainly on social issues, especially the problems related to the poor and the working class.

Udayavani editor R. Poornima said it was the responsibility of journalists to protect the social commitment of newspapers. CPI(M) State Secretary G.N. Nagaraj spoke.

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