Blame it on Mus­lims

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

ISN’T it an in­ter­est­ing co­in­ci­dence that within hours of a hum­bled Home Min­is­ter Sushilku­mar Shinde apol­o­gis­ing for mix­ing saf­fron with ter­ror, Hy­der­abad gets whacked by ter­ror?

And within min­utes of the blasts, In­dia’s tele­vi­sion sleuths man­age to iden­tify the cul­prits – even be­fore the po­lice reached the scene and the vic­tims’ bod­ies were re­moved. It was the In­dian Mu­jahideen (IM) of course, we were told, who had done it with the bless­ings of Pak­istani agen­cies and ter­ror out­fits.

This time around it’s not just the na­tional me­dia net­works; their cousins from the south have been equally swift to crack the case within min­utes thanks to their highly placed ‘sources’. On be­ing alerted about the blasts by my daugh­ter in Hy­der­abad, I scanned sev­eral Tel­ugu chan­nels. It was the same story ev­ery­where: it was Mus­lims al­right. Clearly, In­dia’s re­gional me­dia, like their coun­ter­parts in Delhi and Mum­bai, had their ear to the ground and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion that isn’t avail­able to even those in power. As In­dian ac­tivist-lawyer Shafeeq Ma­ha­jir put it, “the me­dia seems to know a great deal more than even the po­lice.”

He goes on to ask: “De­spite the in­nu­mer­able Mus­lim ac­cused hav­ing been found by law to be in­no­cent, and de­spite the con­fes­sional state­ments of Hin­dutva group mem­bers and cor­rob­o­ra­tive ev­i­dence, how is it that only Mus­lims are stated in the press as be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and in­ter­ro­gated?”

But then what’s new? We’ve been here be­fore. It’s a fa­mil­iar game – played and re­played with the same cast even as politi­cians pon­tif­i­cate against jump­ing to con­clu­sions and link­ing re­li­gion to ter­ror. If it’s not the Stu­dents Is­lamic Move­ment of In­dia (SIMI), it has to be In­dian Mu­jahideen (IM), which the Press Coun­cil chief Katju trashes as a fig­ment of the imag­i­na­tion of the paid me­dia and se­cu­rity agen­cies.

I am not sure who sets the agenda – a bi­ased me­dia that gets away with mur­der, at­tribut­ing its re­ceived wis­dom to ‘sources’ in the ad­min­is­tra­tion or is it the other way round? The re­sult is al­ways the same: a swift and pre­dictable witch-hunt of the usual sus­pects – as hap­pened all over again in Hy­der­abad. What do you ex­pect when the home min­is­ter him­self sets the di­rec­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by sug-

Aijaz Zaka Syed gest­ing that the bomb­ing may have been a re­ac­tion to the ex­e­cu­tion of Aj­mal Kasab and Afzal Guru?

No won­der there’s fear in the air once again in the city that I call home. As soon as the at­tacks were re­ported, a pal­pa­ble pall of gloom de­scended over the ever-bustling city that sel­dom sleeps. Mus­lim busi­nesses and shops were shut. Streets were de­serted even the next day when I went out with the kids.

Given the pat­tern of po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions over the past few years, the Mus­lims’ anx­i­ety is un­der­stand­able. As a press state­ment by the Jamia Teach­ers’ Sol­i­dar­ity As­so­ci­a­tion points out, Hy­der­abad Po­lice have been quite in­gen­u­ous – from raid­ing Mus­lim neigh­bour­hoods to tor­tur­ing young men at pri­vate farm­houses to re­cov­er­ing RDX and fic­ti­tious records of ter­ror train­ing in for­eign lands.

If the me­dia is to be be­lieved, Hy­der­abad is crawl­ing with the IM and Lashkar sleeper cells and Pak­istani spies. Lit­tle won­der then that Mus­lims are afraid – very afraid.

As feared, there have been in­dis­crim­i­nate, mass ar­rests across the city, although re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into CCTV footage and other ev­i­dence are still awaited. Even those hon­ourably ac­quit­ted in the Mecca Masjid case have been de­tained again.

Who needs ev­i­dence or any­thing else to pick up Mus­lims? If it’s ter­ror, Mus­lims must be be­hind it. It mat­ters lit­tle what the law says or ev­i­dence sug­gests or the fact that th­ese cases don’t stand in courts as has re­peat­edly been the case. You could pick Mus­lims up from any­where in the coun­try and be­yond, with­out fret­ting about pub­lic out­cry or po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences. No­body gives two hoots about Mus­lims. No won­der, as an an­guished blog­ger puts it, ev­ery time a bomb goes off any­where in In­dia, there’s an ex­plo­sion in the hearts of its Mus­lims. And the ef­fi­cient law-en­force­ment agen­cies never fail to oblige. Lit­tle has changed even af­ter the in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence and of­fi­cial ad­mis­sion that all the re­cent ter­ror at­tacks, from Mecca Masjid to Ajmer shrine to Samjhota Ex­press that were blamed on the Mus­lims, have been the handi­work of the RSS and its off­shoots. Swami Asee­m­anand, a se­nior RSS ide­o­logue, is in po­lice cus­tody and on record singing all about the se­ries of at­tacks and the plot to tar­get the Mus­lims. Home Min­is­ter Shinde, no less, chose the Congress ses­sion in Jaipur to talk about Hin­dutva’s ter­ror links. Yet Mus­lims re­main the prime sus­pects.

The po­lice witch-hunt and trial by me­dia has ac­quired such ab­surd pro­por­tions that a hawk like B Raman notes in Out­look that “in­stead of wait­ing till the in­ves­ti­ga­tion makes sub­stan­tial progress, the po­lice and agen­cies, with the help of sen­sa­tion-hun­gry me­dia, have al­ready started point­ing the fin­ger at the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, In­dian Mu­jahideen and Pak­istan.

If there is ter­ror, it has to be a Mus­lim. If he is a Mus­lim, he has to be from the IM. If it is the IM, it must have acted at the in­stance of the ISI. That seems to be the think­ing re­flex of the po­lice and the agen­cies.”

In its des­per­a­tion to shock and awe, the me­dia can go to lu­di­crous lengths as it has once again by flash­ing the pic­ture of slain MQM leader Man­zar Imam as the IM mas­ter­mind be­hind the Hy­der­abad at­tacks. It was with­drawn only af­ter some Pak­istani pa­pers ex­posed the blun­der. There was a time when the In­dian me­dia took pride in stand­ing up for the un­der­dog and con­fronting the ex­cesses of those in power.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.