Friday, April 25, 2008

Harassment of Muslims acquires a new dimension

You just need to read the following instances to get an idea how an entire community is maligned by the State and its machinery through smart media manipulation: 1. Madhya Pradesh police claimed that terrorist camp was held near Choral in Malwa region. All national papers and electronic channels, as usual, accepted the claims. Local Hindi newspaper 'Prabhat Kiran' (and later other papers too) in Indore exposed the claims and told the real story that there was no camp ever held. The policemen had organised a 'live raid' and arms had been hidden by policemen themselves earlier, in order to later recover them and prove that they had caught anti-nationals who were planning a major strike. The police's story fell flat and the SP had to go on leave due to embarrassment but this truth about the fabricated story was never printed in national media. Channels ignored it. 2. A journalist, Nadeem Ahmad, who represented fortnightly English newspaper Milli Gazette, had gone to cover riots at Sarangpur in MP. His editor asked him to also go to the region and cover this issue. The police caught him for no fault of his. They didn't tell him reason for his arrest, kept him in confinement in police station in Khargone for 48 hrs and only when local papers published the news of police 'abducting' him, and his editor planned to file habeas corpus in Supreme Court, that he was forced to board a bus and sent back. He was not allowed to go to the places where he had to for reporting. Nadeem did have a beard. Was this his fault? He was told that there was suspicion that he was a SIMI activist, though he had his identification cards. Could they have dared stop a journalist of say, Dainik Jagran or Indian Express! Again this was not reported in mainstream media. 3. Some SIMI activists were caught near Indore. Soon police in every district were catching SIMI activists. Innocent guys who were not at all related were caught. They included professionals, whose careers and jobs have been jeopardised. Mind you, once caught for any section under IPC, but in the name of SIMI, a person is branded 'terrorist' by police and the media buys the story immediately. It's a different matter that the districts police forces were just doing that to show their performance in the state headed by a BJP government. Courts have started acquitting many of the accused as there were no charges at all. But who cares? Muslims are too afraid to speak up. Always expected to prove their patriotism, how can they speak for any person who has been branded a terrorist. Solely it was the Communist Party that did speak on the issue and said that it was an effort to communalise the situation in the election year, with an eye on vote. Cops are fetching money from those who are arrested and it's good extortion business. 4. Now those caught are mostly poor who have no connections. They don't have money or resources. And the jingoistic Bar Councils have decided that no lawyer would be allowed to fight their cases. A lawyer from Ujjain dared to go. But he was beaten up by a group of Hindutva organisation in the court, in the presence of police. Isn't it the end of road? 5. Now the story behind SIMI arrests is also political. The BJP MLA wanted to grab the grave yard land. He called the Chief Minister for 'bhumi puja' on this land but when he came and faced protest, the MLA was pulled up by CM for misleading him. The MLA was upset with the local Muslims and pressurised the police to arrest his 'opponents'. Scores were sent behind bars and the police claimed that they were all 'mischievous elements'. All in the name of democracy, justice and, in a free society, where the media is fair. But this also escaped the media in Delhi and Mumbai. What is the option for Muslims? Shouldn't media write on this major issue. How a police force could fake a terrorist camp? That's a serious matter and everybody needs to ponder over that. Of course, any member of a banned organisation like SIMI ought to be arrested and put behind bars. But not innocents (again I insist, poor) should be victimised by the state, police, lawyers, media and everybody. Read the report about journalist Nadeem Ahmad's arrest in Central Chronicle. [I generally avoid writing tales of such persecution and harassment on this blog, as I feel, all the time writing about such things, brings the 'victim complex'. And that there should be positive stories and more posts on harmony. But when things go so bad. What should one do?] Photos: Journalist Nadeem Ahmad