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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Majoritarianism, racism: Why Dylann Roof was not termed Terrorist despite killing nine persons in US?

Dylann Roof, who shot dead nine persons in a Church in Charleston in America, was termed a 'gunman', 'lone wolf' and 'shooter'.

As the news was initially aired, there was hesitation in calling it a 'hate crime' in media reports or that killings were linked to racism.

Established media groups termed it 'suspected hate crime'. Of course, Dylann Roof wasn't called Terrorist.

This is not the first such occasion when a crime of such magnitude has not been termed as Terrorism. In fact, it has become a pattern and the inherent biases in media are now clearly visible.

There is some difference though--on social media, there was outrage as people perceived the clear bias in media perception of a terrorist.

Words like 'baby faced' are used in story in case of White terrorists. Breivik, Dylann Roof, James Holmes and Michael Page are just a few names.

There are many more. Take the case of Robert James Talbot, Jr, who was too determined for attacks and mass destruction.

The reason is 'majoritarianism' and this is yet another form of racism. So the 'other' can do it, but how can 'someone like us' do it?

After all, it's very easy to blame the other, and not do any introspection. Post 9-11, media has clearly been afflicted with Islamophobia.

In India, it's common to blame a Muslim, who is a mere suspect of a crime, as a terrorist even if he may not have killed or fired a single gunshot.

When terrorists who belonged to the majority community were caught, certain groups 'innocently' said, 'How could a Hindu be a terrorist".

Many others refused to believe and said it was 'conspiracy'. Media was also surprised, and it was at loss how to define them? Extremists or Terrorists.

After all, the word 'Terrorists' was used for members a community till now! So the term, 'right-wing terrorists' was used. However, many others preferred words like 'ugra-wadi' or 'extremist'. Others coined 'charampanthi' or strange sounding words to describe them.

In the West, numerous incidents of terror have taken place in which the Whites were caught. But how could a white be termed Terrorist?

Here lies the dilemma for the 'racist, majoritarian mind', which tends to blame and demonise the 'other'. Sadly, an entire religion followed by 1.6 billion can be vilified on TV channels and in newspapers.

The same narrative, false stories and imaginary fears of take over by 'Blacks' in US or the 'minorities' in India, are responsible for increasing racism and hate crimes.

Sadly, the media is yet to learn to be responsible enough in this regard.

So Wade Michael Page, Anders Breivik, James Holmes and Dylann Roof are never described as terrorists but as 'insane gunman', 'white supremacist', 'Temple shooter', 'Extremist' or 'Fundamentalist'.

Read the earlier post on this Blog:

Insane gunman, white supremacist, temple shooter but NEVER a terrorist: Media must de-link Terror with religion, race and see all acts of violence alike

Sunday, June 07, 2015

When media terms a Terrorist attack as 'ambush' : Criterion for terming a violent attack as terrorism, another more severe attack as 'ambush'

When 20 armymen were killed in attack by banned 'militant' groups in Manipur, the TV channels and newspapers termed it as 'ambush'.

Despite the fact that it was the worst attack on army in decades, the word terror wasn't used.

In fact, many reports didn't mention early in their reports, that who was behind the attack.

1. The headlines and sub-headlines were just about 'armymen killed', not about those who committed the act.

2. No one showed photos of wanted NSCN-KCP-KYKL chiefs or security experts talking about their modules or other past crimes by them.

3. For our media, which is quite sensitive about army, this attack was not enough to cause any OUTRAGE.

No live reports, no flash and no special panel discussions. The next morning, newspapers also carried the story just like a routine report, sans any emotion or information about the 'killers'.

4. In follow-up stories in many papers, words like 'rebel' were used, not terrorist or militant. So what exactly is terror? Does the identity of the 'shooter' or' attackers' lead to sudden decision that word like 'Terrorist' would not be used and it would be termed as 'Ambush'. How this happens, who's behind it?

5. After all in incidents, when there is no casualty and a person who may not belong to any banned group and is killed in an encounter by police, he is quickly termed terrorist, just for carrying a gun or firing a bullet. Is it because the person has a different name!

6. Let's be straight, it is about having a Muslim name. So how does it occur? Knowingly or Unknowingly. No norms or internal system to decide. Or it is so deeply engrained in minds, that as soon as the report comes or story develops, the differentiation of words is there.

7. Any attack, anywhere [not just in North East, Chhattisgarh or any other part of the country by any banned outfit, howsoever dreaded or big in magnitude, will never be termed Terror attack unless the suspect is a Muslim.

8. If a Muslim is killed in encounter and police says that he was trying to fire, he is termed 'TERRORIST', but those who belong to banned militant-terror groups, and commit such gruesome killings, aren't termed even extremists or radicals.

9. By use of words like 'ambush', the severity of the incident is diluted and the image continues to be reinforced that Terrorist can only be a CERTAIN PERSON, belonging to a certain group. Isn't it absolutely unfair and unjustified.

10. Religious is a factor. There is a clear bias. Let's face it. A non-Muslim can commit crime of any magnitude but won't be termed as Terrorist. And a Muslim can always be implicated and termed Terrorist even if he hasn't commit any violent act.

If youths who shot a Delhi cop who had raided their home in Batla House locality were termed terrorists by all, then why those who killed 20 armymen NOT called terrorist? Define terrorism or accept your biases and double standards. Accept, that you are not naive, but doing it purposely to defame Muslims. That it's Islamophobia--crime to malign an entire religion.

11. The result is that in a country where Armyman is treated in utmost respect and injury or casualty can lead to media affecting relations with other countries, the terrorist attacks like in Manipur, are simply treated as 'just an unfortunate happening' and is forgotten.

12. On the contrary, individuals can be framed, termed 'Terrorist' without even firing a bullet, and made to rot in jails for the rest of their lives, because if someone is termed Terrorist, everyone parrots the line, he is branded and he is destroyed--from lawmakers to courts, he is seen as one.

So does anyone has answer that why such unfair attitude in media persists.

Aren't Muslims justified in feeling that they are being targeted and wrongly portrayed. Why it continues? Is it because there is no strong voice raised till now by Muslim leaders, politicians, thinkers and community jointly? 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

IAS officer sends gardener to jail as sound of grass cutting 'disturbed' her yoga session

In an ugly display of misuse of power, an IAS officer got a gardener arrested and sent him to jail.

The gardener's fault was that he was cutting grass in the park and this 'disturbed' the officer.

The incident occurred in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Neha Prakash, the IAS officer, who is on probation, and posted as sub-divisional magistrate, got the gardener booked for 'disturbing public order'.

Neha Prakash had gone to the park, where the gardener Vishwanath was busy cutting grass. The 'officer' told him to stop.

However, the gardener Vishwanath told her that he was doing his work. This angered he so much that the gardener was not only taken booked in a false case and taken to police station but was also arrested and later jailed.

Why was Neha Prakash angry?

A large number of people come to the Govind Vallabh Pant park in Gorakhpur for morning walk. The officer had also gone there for meditation. Firstly, if she was 'allergic' to dust, as a report claims, she could have gone to another spot.

As per other version, she didn't the like the 'noise' of the machine. In fact, reports say that the gardener, who is Gorakhpur Development Authority employee had even stopped for a while, when she objected.

But as he again started cutting grass, with the machine, she got angry. Cheap VIPs, huh! Was it her arrogance or contempt for a person doing manual labour, that she not only decided that this was 'disturbing public order', but also got him arrested, and sent him to jail, by falsely implicating him.

'Educated' power drunk officers, Fat egos

Clearly, these officers are no better than the era of British Raj, in their contempt for ordinary Indians. The British were at least foreigners, who came to rule. But these officers, who are supposed to be 'jan sewak' (public servant), act like masters.

This is not acceptable at all. The blatant misuse of authority and flouting rules has shocked people. After TV channels flashed the report, there was public anger against the action.  However, the damage had been done, already.

Vishwanath's colleagues and friends had to arrange money to furnish Rs 1 lakh bail bond to get him released. But not before he spent 30 hrs in the prison. That's not the sole such incident of a bureaucrat misusing authority.

Not the first such incident

Just recently, another officer got a person arrested in similar manner in UP. The officer, Harshita Mathur, was upset when a person who came to hand her a memorandum, took photograph of handing over the memo.

Angry, she called the police. The person was sent to jail. Though political workers often get themselves photographed while handing over memorandums, and it may not be permitted by every officer, but getting someone arrested under section 151, is utterly condemnable.


The incident has been reported in electronic and print media, yet, the government hasn't taken any action in this regard.

The IAS associations are quick to take stand and talk of humiliation when there are transfers of officers, but no word from them when a fellow officer treats an Indian citizens in this way--by misusing authority, shamelessly.

Has UP Chief secretary sought an explanation from Neha Prakash as yet? Has she been sent a disapproval note or any probe initiated? Or it is that they don't even think, it is worth any action. After all, insulting a common citizen or misuse of power by an officer or cops, is the rule in this country!

See the news [video] at this LINK
Read a comprehensive report HERE

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why this Dalit bridegroom was forced to wear helmet while riding horse in his marriage procession?

Do you know why this Dalit man was forced to wear helmet while riding the horse.

The young man--Pawan's marriage was fixed with a girl in Negrun village in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh.

However, as he belongs to the Scheduled Caste (SC), the local dominant upper caste communities opposed that a Dalit would ride horse in the baraat.

As per the local tradition, Dalits are still not entitled to ride horse in the 'baraat'.

However, when the baraat came, despite opposition, there was stone pelting at the girl's house and also at the 'baraat'.

The local government officials made him wear the helmet so that he didn't get hit. However, officials including a naib-tehsildar was also injured in the stone pelting.

The marriage rituals were later solemnised. The police later swung into action. Over two dozen villagers who opposed the Dalit riding a horse, and resorted to stone pelting, were booked.

The sections meant for atrocities against SC/ST, were also applied. Such opposition to Dalits are common  in Bundelkhand, Chambal and Malwa regions of MP. In rural areas, upper castes still feel that 'lower caste' grooms have no right to ride a horse.

[Photo courtesy]

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Good and The Bad about Salman Khan's conviction in hit-and-run case

Bollywood superstar, Salman Khan, has been sentenced to five years in the hit-and-run case that took place in 2002.

Despite all the resources, his celebrity status and top lawyers on his side, Khan has been awarded the jail term.

Though he can go to higher courts, right now he will have to go to jail. Let's have a look at the various aspects of the case.

1. Generally, hit-and-run cases have bad rate of conviction and jail terms are short. Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the law is not harsh on the errant motorist and the person gets instant bail from the police station (no need to go to court).

2. Under section 304 (A), which is generally used in case of hit-and-run cases, maximum punishment is TWO years. In case of Salman Khan, section 304 II (culpable homicide) was applied. This was apparently because it was a 'high-profile case'. So a VIP is more likely to face the law, is it?

3. One must give credit to Mumbai police, which had registered this case, for some professionalism. Else, it is commonly known how elsewhere in India, FIRs are filed carelessly and case prepared in such a way that they don't stand in the court.

Forget, how the person's drunken status, gets reflected in the medical report. It is rare to see a person getting charged for drunk driving and, even rare that he gets convicted for it. It may be because of lackadaisical attitude of policemen during medical examination, and preparing a shoddy report.

But, in this case, Khan's blood sample was taken for ascertaining drunken status.

Sorry to say, but it is a fact, that in most other states, it is nearly impossible to imagine a celebrity getting hauled to this stage in a case of accidental death. Even if there is a conviction, it would be of 2 yrs under 304 A, and a suspended sentence means, no jail.

4. When there is a poor 'system' [shoddy investigation, cops functioning as per the doctrine 'show me the man and I will show you the rule' and delay in courts], there will be instances when a VIP gets away easily, and also situation when a VIP faces too much scrutiny and gets harsh punishment just because of his status.

5. It is good that a celebrity gets punished for an offence. You can't kill a person by mowing him down with your vehicle and then expect, you will walk away, freely.

Generally, lot of people get away with light sentence or get acquitted but if there is punishment, it should be welcomed. In fact, everyone who kills people in road mishaps, should get similar and exemplary punishment.

6. The law needs amendment, drastically. Road mishaps are the biggest killers in India. A man hits to death, children, and gets bail instantly, without even going to the court. Section 304 (A) is used in case of 'rash driving', which is termed as "negligence causing death''.

7. Salman Khan has a huge fan following. BeingHuman initiative is praiseworthy. This has earned him more support. But a wrongdoing in past can't be undone by it. His good deeds surely bring him support and love. Is that less? To expect that it would help him in his past criminal case, is unjustified.

8. There is an argument that celebrities have it easy in this country. Also, on the other hand, there is greater pressure on courts in such cases. Still, VIPs get support in many ways.

Sanjay Dutt's case is testimony to the fact that despite his involvement in such a serious case, he got political backing and later also, he was released on parole repeatedly. Even, the TADA charges were dropped.

9. In India, politicians have got away easily in cases of mass killings and often got jailed on cases that were just hyped and there was no strong evidence against them. No wonder, people say, that your fate depends on luck. When there is a crumbling system, what else you can bank upon, expect luck!

10. One just hopes that with increasing focus on the need to punish people for their bad deeds, irrespective of their VIP status, the courts would deliver justice in cases of massacres and mass killings too.

There are riots in Assam, UP and many other states in which hundreds get killed but there is no conviction. Hashimpura is the latest example.

One hate preacher gets arrested and jailed for a while, but the other who has been involved in inciting violence for decades, has never been arrested for a day. In fact, cases are filed but, later state governments withdraw them. Courts also don't take cognisance of the miscarriage of justice.

Still, we must not lose hope.

[As far as 'Dabangg' Khan is concerned, he has more to worry. The black buck case is no less serious, as there are even more serious sections against him in that case. Clearly, ]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Legal activism among Indian Muslims: Need for consistent intervention, raising voice against oppression and fighting for the rights

Every vibrant community should have activists.

Activists are individuals who are passionate about certain thing or issues, keep track of them and raise voice when they find something wrong.

Indian Muslims are facing a plethora of social, educational and cultural issues.

There are laws but not all laws are implemented fairly. Hence, it is necessary that there are people who intervene and raise their voice in case of violation of rights.

While peaceful means of protests including demonstrations can have impact to an extent, our system of governance, especially, the bureaucratic maze is such that rules are ignored, misinterpreted and thrown out of the window, and gross injustice is meted out in daily lives.

Such is the situation that one leader may get arrested for a single wrong speech but others who have spent their lives in spreading communalism and mouthing venom haven't been touched by cops. The reason is that cases were filed in police stations (and courts) against the particular person, while few complaints were filed against others.

Recently, Advocate Shahid Ali filed a petition with the Election Commission against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut for his comment that Muslims should be divested of the right to vote. This is a laudable step.

Ali, who heads United Muslim Front (UMF) plans to approach the Supreme Court too, seeking disqualification of Shiv Sena. If similar cases were filed in the past, the situation won't have deteriorated to such an extent, and many other politicians would have been reined in, long ago.

In fact, Ali has been making intervention in important cases, consistently. He has filed petitions in courts, got notices issued to those involved in human rights violations and has raised important issues concerning the community.

Next month, he would be organising a Mahapanchayat, to press for justice for victims of Hashimpura killings. Also, he went against UP government for not fulfilling their promises and against UGC for removing Arabic and Persian.

The point is that just one individual or organisation can't fight for everyone, and we shouldn't expect others to act on our behalf. People should understand that mere education is not enough, they should be ready to stand for their rights too. 

But this is easier said than done. The reason is people who dare to make intervention, are increasingly facing pressures from different quarters, especially, administration.

It is for this reason that lawyer-activists are more needed in the society. The advocates, because of their profession, knowledge of law, and standing in the society, can get things done much more easily, compared to others.

The officials too tread with caution, in fact, they are wary of taking on lawyers. Lawyers can intervene effectively by filing cases, issuing legal notices and fighting for the rights strongly.

Such action can check biased officials and policy-makers from going all out in implementing their agenda.

Injustice happens all around us. There are denials of facilities, services and amenities to people who are entitled to them. This keeps happening everywhere, all the time, either because of poor governance or biased actions of certain officials and policy makers.

The victims of the 'system' are among all the sections of the society. But the poor, the backward, dalit (SC), tribal (ST) and minority communities are more likely to face discrimination and denial to amenities. Hence, the need for lawyer-activists is increasingly being felt among the community.