Thursday, March 26, 2020

Terrorism in India: 17 policemen killed in deadliest attack in Chhattisgarh this year

17 policemen were killed in one of the most deadliest attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in India.

This incident occurred in Sukma district on March 21, 2020. The Maoists had ambushed the police party.

Perched on the hills, they shot the policemen. Naxalites later escaped with AK 47 rifles and several other weapons.

The police had got information about Maoists gathering in the area. Hence, a huge posse comprosing DRG, STF and COBRA jawans, was seent from Dornapal camp towards Kasalpad forests on way to Elmagunda.

The security personnel planned to take Naxals by surprise. However, the latter had also got info about the jawans' movement and ambushed the security personnel. Initially, the police officials claimed that the policemen were missing.

Later, a special team was sent and the bodies of the martyred jawans were brought to the district headquarters. Maoists later displayed the weapons looted in the attack and issued a statement in this regard. Chhattisgarh is among the worst affected state when it comes to left-wing terrorism. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Islamophobia in Indian media, hate spread through TV channels: Is the media's right-wing Hindutva shift irreversible?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Is the Indian media's right-wing shift irreversible?

The question was actually raised on Twitter, in a discussion. Baba Glocal asked, "Do you guys think the genocidal brand of Rwanda Radio journalism will survive even after BJP loses the center?".

He further wrote, "The people who they are catering to remains the same, even if BJP doesn’t get the majority. (Lack of) funding is the only way to stop them".


I don't think even after BJP gets weakened a bit in future, there will be a major change. The society has been deeply divided and the communal poison has permeated everywhere sphere--no longer the urban and rural divide exists, Islamophobia has now swept the country.

Besides, there is no strong will to fight these people, ideologically, by any of the opposition parties and hence in the absence of any such movement, more and more people in society getting affected with time and turning right-wing, getting converted to the Hindutva cause through channels, daily dose on Whatsapp, Facebook and all other medium including print.


Common people can fight up to a level but it needs groups and cadre for example youth wings of parties, the support of party organizations in legal cases against owners-anchors and public naming-shaming of channels-owners who indulge in hate but the entire ecosystem is now ultra right-wing.

If the core right-wing vote for 15-18%, sustained propaganda on a daily basis over the years has led to this figure going up, probably, past 25% and even more. Such is the situation that leave Muslims aside, every 'secular party' and particularly,Congress and its leaders are hated by a large section.

They can suffer but can't even think of not voting the BJP. All these debates on TV channels, the clips of the shows, are later shared on social media. The 'IT cells' often edit and make them even more 'lethal' for the society.


The fight is not easy. This needs planned work, taking to the streets, demos as well, apart from ideological support, serious efforts to fight, counter propaganda, not just stop core right-wing base grow but get them see reality, especially, those who just see 'Muslim appeasement' & 'population growth'.

It is an unprecedented situation, for example even if 10,000 farmers commit suicide, there is no tear for them in this society, no major movement or 'anger in society' narrative, because papers-media that work from cities, don't make it an issue.

This is the scenario when most of the farmers belong to the majority community. Failing economy or even banks' collapse is immaterial too. Then comes the idea that can a grip on funding of these channels, affect their business!

Funding not as big an issue here as in the West, because media always made losses here but businessmen needed it for power and to bargain with government. Spending is controlled as mostly there are debates, not much in-depth reporting or specials that need money, resources and dedication.

Even if a few channels are reined in, most of them would continue doing it on particular days, issues and keep raising controversial things. Also, the infiltration in media is such that the ideology is now difficult to remove.

READ: World must wake up, TV channels spreading Nazi-level hate against Muslims in India

The 'hate is now around us' and not dependent on TV alone. There are 'warriors' who issue threats to people or even go to bizarre levels like call to boycott entire community. Emergency steps are required and real tough action on part of State can only stop it. And, this is highly unlikely.

One factor that will come in way of any change is the composition of the newsrooms--people who form an overwhelming majority of the editorial positions in the channels, and there is no major difference in it, over decades.

There is no serious attempt to give representation to communities, groups in newsrooms. Diversity is just not an issue. So what? Though it's all gloomy, still, it is necessary to do our bit and fight as much as possible.

There is need to name and shame owners, their main brands, and telling the entire world about how the owners are acting like genocidal maniacs and what monsters they have created.

Legal ways, activism, social movement and 'halla bol' on channels are also to be used along with these options. TV has definitely harmed the nation. It has created prejudices, deepened hate and widened the existing fault lines. Further, it has demonized Muslims and has hurt the nation more than our real enemies could have done.

A national movement for harmony that stresses on the need to remain united in the best interests of the 'desh' (country) is the need of the hour. For this, some of the celebrities need to show conviction and millions of people who believe in harmony, would have to support it. This is also a possible way to deal with the situation.

[PS: There are some other ways too but everything can't be part of a blog post]

Saturday, March 07, 2020

The history of communal riots in Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut: How violence stopped and intensity, frequency of killings came down

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The recent horrific killings in Delhi have once again brought alive memories of the brutality during communal riots in several cities in India, in the past.

Historically, cities that saw communal riots had a similar pattern and the victim's grievances were also similar.

The police or provincial armed constabulary i.e. PAC (in case of UP) were accused of high-handedness and allegations of complicity with the right-wing leaders in the local towns.

The cities that were once most affected include Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut (apart from Kanpur and Ahmedabad). From the decade of 1960s till 1980s and even later, these cities remained vulnerable to such killings, though situation improved later.

In the case of Aligarh, there were several factors. The role of traders belonging to a small community (Baraseni Vaishya) has been the most significant factor and discussed in several studies. Unfortunately, it is not remembered or even talked about now.

No analysis or any serious understanding is possible unless this aspect is remembered. As this is a post, I would not delve into the detail and the readers can themselves get a fair idea. The intensity and frequency of riots came down after major changes in the town.

KK Navman, a right-wing leader, was known for his inflammatory speeches and statements. After the eighties, BSP emerged as a power in the district and the electoral alliances (the Muslim support for the party in civic election or assembly or parliament), also had its affect on the local society.

The rise of in Muslim population--from around 33% after independence, it crossed 40% (due to migration from rural areas and nearby villages) was also a factor in this change. The Dalit population too doubled in Aligarh in terms of percentage.

And, the result was that Aligarh was no longer a city that was witnessing riots (unlike past when it was a regular occurrence). Having suffered repeatedly, Muslims are aware of their vulnerability (due to hostile officials and police), hence, behave more maturely and act responsibly in areas where they are strong.

This is also reflected in the way that cities that are Muslim majority don't witness communal riots--either it is cities like Rampur or Burhanpur, or regions of West Bengal around Murshidabad or Mewat.

Ultimately, the issue is lack of representation of Muslims in police--a community that accounts for nearly 15% of population, is hardly visible in the forces. For more, read other posts on the issue viz. How communal killings can be stopped and Had Congress been tough on rioters in 1992-93, Gujarat pogrom won't have taken place.

[Image: Courtesy, Indian Express, screenshot of paper's front page]

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

How to manage public opinion, create perception despite recession in India: BJP, Indian Economy and WhatsApp narrative

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It is interesting that how BJP successfully sets the social media narrative through WhatsApp and Facebook.

An example that would reveal how it works. I met this guy at the BSNL office.

He was worried over his personal issues, started talking to me on his own, about lay offs, privatization, future of LIC and a lot more.

Also, he said govt unable to control but later said, 'look at Pakistan, they've to mortgage all, even roads, we're much better'.

He was explaining to me that in India, we're yet to sell railways but in Pakistan even 'roads sold' to keep the country's economy afloat'. Must have picked up from channels.

So this comparison always makes people content, 'unse behtar hain', without stepping foot out of India. This is the super narrative--comparison has to be with Pakistan, look at how others have sunk & we are still not doing badly.

Even within locality it happens, people are sometimes more jealous about neighbour's accomplishment. So playing on these emotions. Truly amazing. 'Unke yahan to kuchh bacha hi nahi, sadak tak bech di, bhooke mar rahe hain, Chin ki khairat par pal rahe hain...'

These are just the kind of things that people want to believe & take pride in the fact that our enemy is starving, let's forget our pain, be happy. Pak obsession, Nationalism! With 400 million Indians on WhatsApp getting videos, posts about our achievements by such comparisons, you can well sense why BJP and its narrative works.

Add, communal polarization, anger against internal enemies--Urban Naxals, TT gang & see how it works. 300 seats again. It keeps citizens 'satisfied', there is the feeling of 'self-respect', gets sense of Hindu pride and that he elected a strong government. This is a model that has worked well.