Sunday, January 18, 2009

Assam, Hubli blasts: Nagraj's arrest & The 'other' terror

1. I am writing this post a few days after the recent revelation that the Hubli court blast and the planting of bombs on National Highway-4 [Belgaum-Dharwad] were carried out by Nagraj Jambagi's 'module' rather than any Lashkar or SIMI group.

This hasn't been adequately reported in media though immediately after the blast, it was blamed on 'Islamic' terror groups. Nagraj is known to have links with Sri Ram Sena, a radical* organisation that was involved in attacks on Churches in Karnataka.

During the recent elections, the BJP had used it in its campaign. But now when it turned out Nagraj confessed his involvement, the few newspapers that carried the report of the press confernece reported that it was 'not a terror attack'.

Why? Is it because there was no Muslim involved? Just a few papers who at least reported it, gave it a twist like the Midday headline 'Hubli court blast no terror attack'. It's not a joke but it has been made a joke.

One should never use terms like Islamic or any other form of terrorism but it is used and when it is found that there is no Muslim angle, the act goes out of the definition of terrorism. Isn't it strange?

What if it was an act by a Muslim criminal whose name, one can imagine, as an Abu X or Abu Y. Would the media have later described him as a dacoit involved in gangwar [to take off the terrorist tag] as Indian Express reported it later, rather than terrorism?

A few English papers in Southern India reported it [Link to Rediff news report]and also the fact that the bombs were similar to those used in Mecca Masjid blasts, but nothing appeared on TV. Especially mainstream North Indian papers ignored it. These things need to be highlighted, discussed and answered. reports that the aim of Nagaraj's men was to take revenge and attack SIMI members who were brought to courts.

2. In the last three months, Assam was thrice targeted by terrorists--the first strike in October last year claimed 90 lives. The recent two bomb strikes including the one on January 1 got little attention in mainstream media though several persons died.

Surpisingly the third blast that occurred on January 9 almost got unreported in the mainstream media. As I write it today, I can see a blast in Afghanistan getting far more coverage, as if Assam is not part of the country.

When the first of the recent series of three blasts occurred, self-styled media's terror experts suggested the names of obscure and known organisation with Arabic sounding names. Within a day, it disappared from frontpage of newspapers and channels as it always happens in the case of Assam or Naxalite infested areas.

But investigation was pointing towards Ranjan Daimari alias Nabla. He is leader of the separatist pro-Christian Bodoland movement 'National Democratic Front of Bodoland'. However, as in other cases we didn't get to see the photographs of Nabla, because he was suspected, on TV channels.

Ultimately it was Pranjal Deka, who emerged as the main mastermind of the blasts. Just a week or two back he has been killed in a cross-fire in Assam. Pranjal Deka alias Biju Sarania, was one of the three ULFA militants, who had planted three bombs that rocked Guwahati on Januar 1, was killed in an encounter with security forces, writes Samudra Gupta Kashyap in the story in Indian Express. Just one question, why Dekha is described as a Militant and not a Terrorist?

Again, it is not Jambagi, DR Nabla, Pranjal Deka or many others whose faces we never get to see on TV or papers though they also appear in press conferences and get produced in courts.

3. We live in a so-called enlightened era. We know it is extremely insensitive and risky to brand entire communities. We all know and more than us it is media that should know. As we write and read this, LTTE, a predominantly Hindu organisation fights to retain its base in Buddhist-dominated Sri Lanka. It's not Muslims who are fighting there either.

Still, what seems to sell on papers and media is 'Muslim faces' and 'Islamic terror'. The dreaded-ness probably increases when the photo of a Muslim 'Abu X, Y, Z' appears rather than a Pranjal Deka, as the beard or a skullcap gets fitted on the head. This makes him look bad as popular imagination has been fed over the years in this manner.

[To some whose comments on past posts have been moderated: *Anybody can appropriate any religious name and this is not limited to just the Islamic organisations. The Jaish and Lashkar use this to malign Islam just like Bajrang Dal is not performing anything to make a devotee of Lord Hanuman proud of the organisation's actions or for that matter Shiv Sena.]

Related posts that appeared earlier on this blog:
1. Linking Muslims with Terrorism even as Maoists kill 12, Manipur militants kill 17
2. IBN 7: Journalism or preaching prejudices
3. Branding community and critising terrorism
4. Terrorism and bomb blasts in India: Hindus, Muslims, Communalism and other issues
5. State's softness on radical Hindutva organisations