Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Defaming Deoband: Media's biased approach towards Muslim institutions

Just a 'reel' of camera that was brought to a photo studio in Deoband sent the electronic media and newspapers crazy. The politicians too followed suit.

They started blaming the Muslim dominated region in Western Uttar Pradesh (UP) as a breeding ground for the militants. The photographs were quite amateurish.

It is quite common for visitors to often get themselves photographed in fancy dresses in Kashmir with gun in hand. Just like in rural Indian fairs, people get photographed sitting on bikes or holding a gun.

Also, why would terrorist want to bring themselves in focus and send the reel to an ordinary studio? But the respected Islamic seminary of Deoband was targeted and defamed.

The newspapers screamed, 'Deoband in terrorist frame'. TV channels were no less aggressive. The next day it was disclosed that the youths were not terrorists. In fact, they were members of Village Defence Committees in Kashmir and the reels were the possession of army.

So this chapter was closed but what about the harm done to the reputation of the Islamic seminary that took lead in freedom struggle? Unfortunately, it is very easy in India to blame Muslims for all sort of fundamentalism and terrorism though not even a single Indian Muslim has been found to be connected to any international terrorist network.

One hopes that media learns to observe certain restraint. There should be cross-checking and verification of facts. There should not be any prejudging or a hurry to get a sensational report. Muslim organisations should also reach out to media and in case of defamatory reports, they must seek apology.