Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TV channels, media houses, anchors involved in Nazi-style propaganda against Muslims in India

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

An extremely disturbing trend is being witnessed in the world's largest democracy, India.

Several media groups seem to have taken a cue from the Nazi propaganda methods and have been targeting, demonizing Muslims.

This is happening round the clock. Not only they fan hatred and have 'normalized' it, but many journalists are openly using social media to spread Islamophobia and hate towards Muslims.

It started sometime ago. In fact, among major TV channels, Zee News, was the first in Hindi while Times Now took the lead among English channels in airing such content. Certain anchors openly incite and speak the language of right-wing extremists.

No wonder, violence against Muslims in the name of cow protection, the lynching incidents, the attacks on Muslims--all these have occurred in this period when media is behaving as a mouthpiece of the hate brigade.

Initially, there were a few channels. But after the last Parliamentary election, several other media groups, owners and editors too turned far-right and appeared in a new avatar. Open display of bigotry became the norm. A new English channel, Republic, was launched. More Hindi and English news channels also started toeing the Hindutva line.

There were some channels that were perceived as slightly less biased and more objective than others. However, there were certain anchors in these channels too who began peddling hate and lies. It was as if a competition begun as to who would outdo other anchors and other channels in spreading hate towards Muslims.

India Today group that earlier had a distinct image and was believed to be practicing fair journalism, also began indulging in this propaganda. One of the anchors, Rohit Sardana, who has been brought from Zee group, has been the cheerleader of the extreme right-wingers.

In the latest incident when Kasganj, a town in Uttar Pradesh, witnessed trouble on Republic Day, the TV channels were clearly involved in communal polarizing, spreading hate on the basis of rumours and not going by facts.

Local Muslims had organised an event to celebrate Republic Day. The national flags were visible all around. Suddenly, 'Tiranga Yatra' arrived that had more Bhagwa (Saffron flags) than the national flags.

There were also batons and firearms in their hands. Provocative slogans were raised on the occasion too. It was during this Yatra, that a youth, Chandan Gupta, had hit by a bullet. He later succumbed.

However, TV channels gave it a twist as if minorities had any objection to unfurling national flag.

While Muslims were celebrating Republic Day and hoisting flag, the TV channels turned into mouthpieces of far-right propagandists and repeatedly parroted lies. LINK

Instead of questioning that who gave the Saffron forces the right to storm into any locality with Saffron flags, raise provocative slogans and rather than joining the Republic Day event, make abusive comments.

The channels went ahead, they began speaking the language of the right-wing fanatics, giving a totally different impression. Just when curfew was on in Kasganj--there was violence, houses-shops were being attacked and burnt, these TV channels were busy in reinforcing the prejudices.

Not just on TV, there were using other mediums [like Twitter] too for spreading hate. The aim was to polarize, communalize and foment trouble at a time when police and administration were trying to bring the situation under control.

Another journalist, Abhijit Majumder who is a managing editor of Mail Today [also belongs to India Today group], tweeted about another death, though there was none.

Then, there was Jagruti Shukla, who gave the open threat--her account was suspended by Twitter, but later suspension was revoked.

As a result, the situation took such a turn than when a district magistrate R Vikkram Singh, wrote on Facebook about the strategy of troublemakers going to particular areas [Muslim localities or near mosques], raising slogans and disturbing law-and-order.

But he was trolled and targeted. Finally, he had to remove the social media post. Now almost everyday, evening news and panel discussions focus on divisive issues and the debates have hit a nadir.

It's open, blatant, there is no journalism anymore, it's all about inflammatory issues that can divert people's attention and inflame passions. It is no longer journalism for positive change in society but injecting more and more hate each and every day.

1. Rohit Sardana aka walking-talking Radio Rwanda does it again

2. Man declared dead in Kasganj speaks up: People were using me to incite violence

3. Pressure on Indian official after he questioned Muslim-baiting

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Karni Sena: Should individuals, celebrities of community speak up when groups claiming to represent them indulge in violence?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Once again this question arises in the wake of pan-Indian violence by Karni Sena.

There are not just death threats to actors or acts like burning down theatres but also warning the state, not listening to courts and even attack on school bus carrying children.

When a group gets violent, claiming to represent your community, is there need to speak up that no they're wrong, not representing us.

Need for 1-2 celebrities of the industry or leaders-bizmen-sportsmen need to condemn, speak. Or no need for it?

How many Rajput celebrities including Bollywood stars or Rajputs in Sports, Business, Army, Bureaucracy, Police have issued statements and said that we don't agree with Karni Sena (that has no respect for even SC) or that it doesn't represent us?

When it comes to Muslims, on any petty issue involving a Muslim, many of us get uneasy, unable to sit silent, start profusely apologizing for someone else's conduct just because of Muslim name and start giving justifications.

This situation comes up again and again. In some instances, people too ready, more than eager to condemn, feeling guilty for others' acts. In some cases, absolutely passive.

Ideally though, State-cops that needs to deal with lawlessness. But because it doesn't happen, there is often pressure on the community. Though many support the muscle-flexing.

Secret admiration for 'Gunda', 'Gundagardi' of own community in Indian society

Frankly, in India, people even admire 'gunda' of own community, gundagardi too. There is secret admiration--feeling that 'chalo ek taaqatwar aadmi ya group tayyar ho gaya'.

In states, regions, you hear people talking with pride about their own 'bahubali'. Love for muscle-flexing. Once a group-person gets powerful, people draw power from them. 

Throwing its name, weight, in situations. In a country, where law doesn't act equally, that's bound to happen. One can get away with arson-violence if has backing, other can be jailed under 151 without doing anything.

When politicians-bureaucrats-other power centres wield disproportionate power, when their allegiance or signal can start or stop any action, nothing can stop it. That's how this country runs. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Right-wing extremism in India: Graham Staines' killing reminds us of dangers posed by extremist ideologies

Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death in their car on this day--January 23, 1999.

Though nineteen years have passed, it still evokes painful memories and remains a part of collective conscience of the nation.

It serves reminder to us that how extremist ideologies can turn people into such monsters that they would even go to the extent of killing innocent children.

Staines who hailed from Australia, had settled in India, and worked for leprosy patients. He was with his sons, Philip and Timothy, when an armed mob surrounded the vehicle and set it afire. The killings led to international outcry.

The man had dedicated himself to serve humanity and made India his home, yet, he was accused of luring locals towards Christianity. His wife Gladys rejected the charges that he converted people to Christianity.

Dara Singh, who was associated with Bajrang Dal, was held guilty in this case. The trial court gave him death sentence. However, the High Court didn't consider it a rarest of rare case, and instead of capital punishment, he was given life term in the year 2005.

The Supreme Court too upheld the decision, six years later. Despite the widespread outrage, right-wing forces have over the years continued to target Christians--either it is Dangs in Gujarat or attacks on Churches in Karnataka.

Singh is in jail. Shockingly, despite Dara Singh's involvement in the monstrous act and his conviction for it, several websites that claim to be dedicated to the cause of Hindutva, express support to Dara Singh.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Just compare Muslim silence on Haj subsidy abolition with Karni Sena violence on Padmavati

When BJP government decided to do away with the Haj subsidy, there was not a single protest across India.

Muslims didn't come out on streets. They didn't even burn effigies or stage any protests at all.

It was peace all across India. Government took a unilateral decision but there was no opposition or street violence.

But, when a movie, Padmavati, was about to be released, the Karni Sena came out on streets, it threatened to kill actors, apart from threats to cut nose and bury the actors.

Despite open threats, FIRs were not registered. The state, the media, everyone seemed to ignore the verbal threats and the violence on the streets, as if the Karni Sena is their own group and it was nothing but mere tantrums.

Further, there were violent attacks, arson, attacks on cinema halls, assaults, threats to burn down theatres, even making an extremely shocking appeal to Rajputs within Army, and not even listening to Supreme Court. 

Just recall, mob violence in India in recent history. Army had to be called out in Haryana as well as in Gujarat during Jat agitation and Patidar movement. Is nationalism about burning-damaging national property?

Bajrang Dal does it all the time but it remains national. Which Muslim group has been involved in such acts? None.

Yet, the Karni Sena is termed as a 'fringe'. No extremism or fanaticism, used here.

Similarly, when BJP government unilaterally decided to bring law banning Triple Talaq, the Muslim community, even if there were many voices against it, didn't go out on streets to stage protests or commit violence.

This is not just about Karni Sena. It is about Bajrang Dal and Ram Sene, it is about the VHP as well as HVK.

From Gujjar agitation to Jat violence, from Patidar movement to Baba Ram Rahim's followers--all have been incidents of organised violence, the state and law was defied, people died.

READ: Violence during Jat stir in Haryana, Rs 25000 cr property damaged

Even in farmers' agitations or teachers' protests, one finds arson, attacks and violence.

However, Muslims show maturity, despite bad press and constant demonisation, Muslims remain peaceful and avoid any mass protests or violence, don't damage national property and abide by law. This is the point, we must remember.

READ: Horrors of Haryana, destruction in Rohtak during quota protests

Sunday, January 07, 2018

How institutions have failed in India: Denial of justice led to death of idealism, hope soon after 1992

When one is young, there is idealism and you feel that things can change.

You hope that society will move forward, we will learn from our failures in the past and that there will be progress, believing that the new leaders will devote themselves to welfare of people and development of the country.

But as years go, you realise that nothing of that sort is going to happen. Everyone who comes with the promise of revolution, is playing the same old game. People will continue to be exploited in the name of religion and rhetoric is just a tool to cheat the masses, who themselves seem eager to be cheated.


In childhood, I too hoped that one day religious discrimination, casteist oppression and capitalist divides would become end, or at least the dividing lines would become so thin that they would become invisible.

But, what fools we are when are young. My moment of reckoning was in 1992. It was not the demolition of Babri Masjid but slightly later. When the mosque was demolished, Prime Minister came on national TV, said that the mosque would be rebuilt.

There was still a feeling of shock in the entire country. One could never believe that a Prime Minister could lie or make a false promise in front of entire nation. And Kalyan Singh, the chief minister of UP, who had given an undertaking that mosque would not be harmed, had presided over the demolition.

Then, the Supreme Court, in a its judgment, awarded Kalyan Singh, just ONE DAY imprisonment, a symbolic sazaa! Then, comes the realisation how politicians, bureaucrats and the judiciary--there is no institution that would come to the aid, even in the gravest situations facing the nation.


Some may work against the nation but will be awarded certificate of nationalism. Some may work for nation but would be dubbed 'anti-national'. It keep happening in our democracy all the while.

Rajiv Gandhi looked sophisticated and seemed to have a vision for the country. But his party's goons were involved in killing of Sikhs. The role of Chief Minister Sudhakar Rao Naik in Mumbai riots when Shiv Sainiks were allowed free run, is just one of the examples.

Naik faced no case or punishment. Congress devised a perfect system--instituting Commissions that was a way to give a quiet burial to issues without any action. Regarding the role of BJP, the lesser said, the better it is.

It isn't that one would totally lose all hopes. We all have to fight and resist and use constitutional methods. But once you know the reality, it's always good. How the 'system' works--always in favour of the powerful and against the weak. The early we realise it, the better it is.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Why Shahjahan is not remembered by State on his birth anniversary?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Emperor Shah Jahan was born on January 5, 1592.

That's centuries ago but shouldn't the State remember him on his birth anniversary!

He was not only the emperor of India but also built Taj Mahal--India's most famous structure, a monument dedicated to love, for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Taj is a global attraction--the single biggest brand for India and our tourism, and apart from this, it has also been the biggest investment, a huge source of revenue.

Hundreds of years will pass and millions would keep coming to India to see Taj. Billions would be earned in process.

Still, while the state remembers people born in the past or recent past, Shahjahan is forgotten.

There is an Urs though at the Taj in Agra. But apart from that, there is no other such event. Even in case of historical personalities--those who have certain political constituency, there are events, public programmes by people who have regard for the person.

Of course, Shahjahan doesn't come under this category. This small post is just a tribute to the King who immortalized love and gifted the country, its biggest gem--The Taj.