Saturday, January 30, 2021

Bond with Bajrang Dal damaging Indian Police credibility: How people framed, made to suffer just because Dal 'raids' a place and police has to act subsequently!

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A right-wing group has the power to 'raid' any place, create ruckus and vandalize, rough up people and then inform the police.

Now, as per its information, the police duly register the case. If there are loopholes, if the crime was not committed or people were wrongly framed, there is no recourse. 

When the police officials are questioned, they simply reply--'we are investigating'. This is a classic example of how police have withdrawn, shirk their responsibility and right-wing vigilante groups manage to get things done.

So this recent incident in Indore again shows how policemen take action on the basis of Bajrang Dal's stand. 

The Dal gets a 'tip' that people have assembled at a place & they believe or imagine it is for conversion, so they have the power to 'raid' the premises?

This is not considered 'parallel policing', promptly FIR registered in accordance with BD's stand . For police, Bajrang Dal or similar groups' word is final. Who has given this right to a group that has its role under scanner in riots, violence and atrocities?

Now, as an FIR has been registered, arrested people suffer for days, weeks--women with children included, who have been booked under harsh laws and difficult bail conditions make it tough for them to get released. Police force, an agency dependent on BD? 

Realisation comes that the victims may be from the majority community whom you want to protect!. So some get worried, feel that 'was it okay'. But because BD has said it, done it, FIR was a must and now you can't say that 'it was wrong call' or admit mistake or withdraw charges.

In a civilized world, anyone who 'raids', takes law in its hands and plays the role of an agency capable of taking action, should be booked or reined in. Here, things are totally different. The BD or similar groups in different regions have this extra-judicial power to get anyone booked and arrested. 

THE PATTERN: How any right-wing politician can get cops register case against anyone

In the case of comedians Munawar Faruqi's arrest too, this happened. Complaint was made though  there was no such joke cracked to hurt sentiments in Indore, yet, local politician appears on the scene, complained, the case was promptly registered and since then, they'are in jail.

Even when a case is not registered, there are other ways of harassment. In Bhopal, minor girls and boys were herded by police and taken to police station just because a right-wing group had conducted a similar 'raid' in a restaurant, claiming that it was hookah bar. 

This had resulted in the victims getting publicly shamed, in one case father disowned his wife and daughter. Don't outsource policing or give such blanket powers to any group to take action. This is extremely damaging and affects the credibility of police. 

The law-enforcing agencies need to l think about it and take corrective measures. Shockingly, IPS officers who are well aware, themselves let these things go on. It is not that the political parties directly ask you to let vigilantes act always. Just that the officials go extra-mile in pleasing these forces. 

This bond is such that when thousands of right-wing workers carrying lathis or swords go out as it happened in the region, police had no intel, didn't try to stop or register cases. If you want to study how things falling apart in our country, study Indore model, from 1990s

In Indore, last year, a woman was denied goods by a person who on camera said that he won't give to person of particular faith, video went viral, but the same cops didn't even take action. If you ask them, they say, 'we are not aware'. BD can go & then police duly follows.

On the contrary, when right-wing leaders are caught for smuggling cows to slaughterhouse, main accused are not arrested, promptly. 'We are looking, investigating...' is the response despite the evidence.

The police force that has over 1 lakh staff & dozens of units in MP & has the competence, doesn't need to work in accordance with any groups' wishes. Hope top officials realise that this is affecting the force and its image. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Bonding with Bookshop owners and buying old, rare novels in different cities in India

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

When you keep visiting bookshops often, you form a bond with the shop owners.

Just like other shops, the bookshop owners get to know your taste, the kind of books you buy.

You can spend time deep inside the shop without anyone bothering. 

From early teenage, I started visiting bookshops and many shop owners became friends. 

They would not only give good discount but some of them kept my favourite books aside, also gifted precious books. A visit would become mandatory every few weeks--discussing books but other mundane things and having tea together.

In Bhopal, either it was Chandna book depot in New Market or the shops in Old Bhopal, Ibrahimpura and other localities, I always had a good relation with most shop owners, except, Variety book house. 

In Lucknow, there are a few good shop owners in Aminabad, Hazratganj and some other localities. There is a separate post about Danish Mahal on this blog. It is always good to see shop owners who remember your choice and keep certain old books kept and handed to me.

Every round you make, you return with some of the precious gems, a feeling of victory. Krishan Chander's works or even Paale Khan, writings of Krishan Gopal Abid or Ram Lal, even Gulshan Nanda, that were once a rage, are now rare to find. 

When you get such books in one visit, the joy is indescribable and you feel like shouting, telling everyone. The only serious issue is about making space and about  keeping the ever growing number of books in the house.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How media uses terminology to change people's perception about movements: Creating positive or negative image, defaming protesters through clever vocabulary

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It's a classic example that how any movement can be shown in bad light or defamed by mere choice of words.

The terminology used can make a big difference in creating positive & favourable opinion about any movement or defaming it from the start. 'Pradarshan-kari' (protester), 'Andolan Kari' (agitation) or 'Updravi' (vandal).

From mid-80s to 90s, a term was 'Kar Sewak', denoting 'sewa' i.e. 'service'. Hence, the right-wing movement that continued for years and hurt the communal harmony of the nation, eventually leading to destruction of Babri Masjid, was seen as 'nationalist', NOT as a movement that affected India's law-and-order.

Reality is that in India, the 'mainstream media' is not neutral, it doesn't even show a bit of bias, rather, it goes to the extent of passing off vandals as 'nationalists' while the real victims who agitate for a cause are termed 'vandals'.

This hasn't happened in a day. Farmers had demands and top political leadership should have addressed it but instead when they marched to Delhi, most TV channels termed them 'anti-national', and for days it was claimed that the 'Khalistanis' had infiltrated the agitation. 

Certain channels were doing the round the clock vilification of farmers and their protest over the last two months. Those involved in widespread violence and movements to divide the country on religions lines can be termed 'nationalists' by media through selective choice of vocabulary. 

That's the power of words, the ecosystem. Otherwise, the woes of farmers, who sat in freezing cold and the large number deaths can be ignored. Further, victims are blamed as those causing 'disruption' by sitting on the roads, breaking law-and-order and causing trouble. 

Even, 'traitors', 'terrorists' are the terms used for certain protesters depending upon who is agitating. On social media, this gets amplified and the language is even more harsh. When the news along with one-sided coverage---TV showing just one aspect i.e.protester's entry, not the policemen's lathi-charge, it has a huge affect.

Most farmers who entered Delhi, had tricolour, yet, the TV channels had the audacity to cast aspersions on their patriotism. Now imagine the silence, when right-wing groups took out rallies in different states, carrying Saffron flags, hoisting them on mosques in MP, or even Hindu Mahasabha calling Republic Day, as a Black Day. 

Aakar Patel points out in a tweet, '14 people died in the Patidar agitation of 2015. More than 2000 Indians died during Advani’s agitation'. Riots had taken place in many Indian cities during Rath Yatra. It was never termed lawless or anti-national, rather, positive image was created. 

Rath Yatra had passed through umpteen cities across India and many of them witnessed riots. Later, it was this movement that culminated in attack on Babri Masjid and its demolition, which again resulted in communal violence across India and death of more than 2,000 people.

Those responsible for inflammatory speeches, call for 'Kar Sewa' and gathering mobs to destroy India's secular character, were not seen as anti-nationals, rather, media treated them as 'respectable leaders' and paved way for the radicalisation in society to reach the next and more dangerous level.

What you are shown day and night on most channels, and the words used by media, this ultimately creates public opinion. The role of media in changing perceptions, manipulating public opinion is overlooked. The threat is more than we even realise. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

How privileged classes' false narrative is bought by middle-class and the poor through media manipulation

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

How it happens that if there is a talk about subsidy for farmers or support to poor or any weaker section, these steps are seen as giving freebies and a narrative of 'our things snatched and given to them' is created.

We know how rich countries like US, France and others heavily subsidise farming. That here too everyone is a tax payer, there is tax on everything from petrol to the matchbox is known. 

Yet, it is claimed that 'we' suffer due to taxes and poor don't pay and just get the privileges. 

1. It is a complex thing. To understand this a bit backgrounder is necessary. In our society, there has been a traditional contempt for working class, strong belief among privileged who are themselves pampered but manage to create perception that poor are getting away with too much, that they are appeased and get away with a lot. 

2. Certain groups are 'otherised'. Just that who are the 'others', it keeps changing. Vernacular papers' role has been crucial in creating this system and doing it in such a smart way that the middle-class and the lower-middle class too accept these ideas. 

3. The opinions are created in cities [capitals] that represent and run the states. Sense of equality, what basic things every one is entitled, even these concepts are misrepresented. So, those living in slum clusters are seen as land encroachers, getting free electricity et al. 

4. Those earning 10,000 or 12,000 or even 7,000--they all want to feel they are middle class, as it is cleverly linked to a person's ego and self-respect. These fake pride and the feeling that 'many others are below us'. 

It stops people from building solidarity with others who are also like us. So the person doesn't want to feel that he is a 'lower middle-class' person or that his family is poor, just like in terms of popular vocabulary no one wants to claim backwardness at a personal level. 

5. Different sections of similar economic background are pitted against each other, made to feel like 'others'. Then, the religious, regional and caste aspects also come and it becomes easy for newspapers to play this game.

6. If there is suffering, blame just another group, someone like your own. The unique system, not expecting people whom you elect to do a thing, but just shift blame on another section amongst us, has been working for decades now. 

Even in case of a major crisis, just blame ONE SECTION. Everyone's anger is directed in this direction and the rulers too have it easy now as there is no question on their failure. Newspapers are run by barons and they represent interests of the elite.

7. Hence, they push narrative. The poor who want the papers to speak about their issues, believe them. For example, newspaper can say outsiders in this city are taking 'our jobs'. It differs from state to state, people from a region, Biharis or any section, can be blamed. 

When one group is poor but doesn't want to accept that it is poor, looks at another similar group as not its own, and there is no solidarity or feeling that they too need support or affirmative action, the society can never become 'just'. 

8. There are numerous examples. Like people who often belong to middle or backward castes, claim their connection with a certain higher caste even though they are fully aware about their own position in society. 

Also, you know certain beliefs in your family are outdated and backward, but you accept them, stand with them, but don't publicly express support, because good or bad, they are considered 'unfashionable'. The need for 'validation' and feeling better than our real situation, is at the root of this entire system. 

Papers play clever role how opinion is shaped or society's consciousness about issues is kept under check. People want to believe that they are middle class, even if they are really poor, but the deep urge to feel that we better than the 'rest', and 'we haven't done badly in life', keeps you hooked to these papers. 

9. You draw a satisfaction from this and believe that you are entitled to more but not doing as good as you deserved, because of these--'others', any class similar to one self. We always find someone to blame. Because we are and were always great, faultless, things are bad only because of others!

10. The moment few crimes take place, papers write on their own that 'outsiders to be blamed' though reporters, most staff came to region from other state a few years ago, and as if outsiders are devils and locals are angels though no definition of local- 20, 30, 50 yrs! 

If a big issue comes up, blame a 'section', shift the problem, get other sections of the same kind stand against this section. They manage it by creating such perceptions, controlling collective minds, and that's how it continues, always. 

Photo--Mr Yogendra Singh. Pexels

Sunday, January 24, 2021

COURAGEOUS: Joe Biden's comments on threat from domestic terror show pragmatism, hope

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Joe Biden's comments on the threat from domestic extremism and terror must be welcomed. 
These are truly historic because it needs strong conviction and bravery to speak up against 'majoritarian sentiment'. 
Also, this is courageous because even acknowledging it is tough. Generally, the majority population feels* 'it is nation'.
This is true in most countries of the world. The majority doesn't want to own up faults, in fact, it never likes to be told that there are people or a segment in it that are responsible for the mess.
It, instead, tends to blame 'other, outsider'. But when you are in a mess, you need to redress the issues. Solution requires introspection, being fair, tough and even straightforward to the point that your own people may get irked.
Compare it with other countries where people, leaders won't even accept that there is any problem. 'Right-wing' is considered a representative of the main stream. Media that is not inclusive, generally, also pushes the ultra right-wing majoritarian narrative. Shifting a problem, hiding it by blaming others, letting it worsen is what they know.
To accept that there're issues with 'us' is a really brave thing in our times. It shows the maturity of United States of America. In post-Trump era, especially, the mob violence at Capitol Hill, it was necessary to speak up. 
However, for too long, the issue of 'domestic terrorism' was not taken as seriously. This is true in other countries as well. The core problem is diverted or ignored. However, petty things are brought up, instead resolving the real problem. [The photograph shows the lead, headline on front page of Times of India, Mr Chidanand Rajghatta's report]
*The feeling among majority that 'we truly represent the nation' is due to right-wing narrative pushed by TV, newspapers and media that are not as inclusive. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

How media hides names of criminals belonging to one religion but splashes when suspects belong to another faith


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It's sad that I have to write but we need to talk about it. 

It is a dark chapter in the annals of Indian journalism. 

This brutal gang rape took place in MP, iron rod was inserted. It's not that the names of the accused are not known. 

Most papers didn't publish them. English papers also didn't carry. Neither did portals, agencies.

If not first day, in follow-up you can write. But if a system has been internally devised when to publish names & photos in a big way, and when 'not'. One NBT report mentions a bit. Read carefully and you'll find, one of the accused's profession and you may realise. 

The second report below, just in one paper, had two names in the last line. Otherwise English papers and portals too ranging from Times Of India to India Today, Hindi newspapers, all concealed the names. 

Earlier papers had 'style sheets', that had to be adhered in reporting & writing. Not now but an unwritten code. Of the 10 cases, find the one that 'suits' agenda and then go all guns blazing. Not just accused, target everything, get houses razed. Else, keep mum.

Such level of deep shit that you can't even discuss. There are people who straight come from wings of the organisation that wants to propagate falsehoods, create a narrative that 'criminals' are only of one kind & 'we' can't be bad. They are in newsrooms, affect others' thinking.

Each day, they have worked like maniacs on the ground, whichever newsroom they entered, they ensured that even after they leave, it will continue. Such smart ways that even those who have balanced views, change, after interaction.

People take lightly or don't realise, but within states it has huge impact. It has power to change your mind, your opinion, you begin to view things differently when the medium that makes you watch, is totally compromised. Being done for long, has changed perceptions.

Doesn't take much effort, a person who is ideologically compromised, can do this, easily. The least needed is to carry or not carry names of accused in first, second paragraphs or carry even in intro, sub-headline, box or just take in the end, 'continuation' depending on 'names'.

This so cheap and 'ghatiya' that one doesn't even want to rake it up. Ironically, if you say it, you are seen as someone who has a 'different eye' and unnecessarily getting into. 

But this needs to be mentioned, anyway. #RadioRwanda was not just one day exercise.

Some persons who were really balanced, sane. I saw them change because of those around them. 

Certain benefits, things you get from the regime, it also makes you so comfortable that they too don't realise how they slide, get swayed and finally, are 'compromised'. 

Otherwise, names are published in the first paragraph itself, repeated, sometimes in sub-headlines or headlines and boxes. Photographs are published in big way, which causes anger. Then certain wings demand action, demolition of house of suspects. 

But when you don't even publish names, do it so selectively, you want to create a perception that just persons from one community are involved in crimes and this is extreme hatred, creating divide in society and paving way for fascism. Enough for now.

LINK to NBT report: Gang rape in Sindhi, accused arrested

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Right-wing majoritarianism can put countries at risk of law-and-order breakdown: Derailing democracies and parallels between India and USA

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The mob that gathered at Capitol Hill in United States of America, seems to have surprised Indian elite. 

There was 'amazement' that 'see it can happen there, so we...', as if nothing of that sort happens around us. 

Surprisingly, back home, the same vocal elite dosen't care if right-wing runs riot in our own country, able to get away with lynchings and even change public opinion besides vigilantism and pushing forward unjust laws that target minorities. 

Not long ago, a man --Afrzaul, was burnt alive and in killer's support, hundreds came out on the streets, they even went on rampage in the court premises. Recall, how cops were dealing with this mob. Quite softly. 

This was in Rajasthan a few years ago. Right-wing, its core feel it owns the country, anywhere. The right-wing core that may not even comprise a majority, but it draws its power from the 'majority' & feel it is 'patriot', owns all. 

'First class citizen' & 'second class citizen'. Officials behave differently to a mob in one case though can be harsh on victims in other case. Today, any person who throws a 'stone' is seen as the ultimate law-breaker. 

But when caste group's 'Sena' cadre was on streets, burning buses and pelting stones, it's office-bearers didn't need to run away, as if they felt they 'owned' the nation enough and that it's delegation could honorably go & meet Home Secretary.

Just watch out, the next time, some outfit belonging to 'privileged' or majority community indulges in stone pelting or arson, nobody would even talk about 'seizing property', arrests or suggestions about life term for it. 

So even after Rajasthan rampage in society, papers-people were not upset. No conversations were heard that 'these people are doing too much'. This is the normalization. They fell, 'we own the country, our people even if the do wrong, they've the right...our land'. Majoritarianism.

Unfortunately, it is not seriously taken. Media creates the perception and hence minority or marginalised groups get demonised but the mainstream bigotry and vandalism is ignored. There is definitely a threat to the nations. 

READ: Lessons from US that how White supremacist or right-wing threat can't be overlooked

Lessons for countries, other democracies from USA after Trump supporters' Coup at Capitol Hill


On the left is the screen shot of the New York Times' website. 

It says, 'Mob storms Capitol...'. On social media, there was shock across the world to see the images from Washington.

But is this unexpected? There are clearly, many lessons from societies and democracies in other countries. 

As a journalist on TV said, 'how can we (US) who go to other countries to oversee their elections, now after this...'

But the fact is that white supremacists in US (just like majority in other places) feel that they 'own' country and can get away. Law in practice becomes an expression of power and creates a clear divide between two sets of people.

A black person may face a bullet for no reason, but even after the White supremacists do this, they are treated softly. Over decades, media that too, knowingly or unknowingly, creates the perception of who 'owns the country', 'the system'. And, people in every sphere adapt.

The right-wing and the core that may not be a majority, draws its power from the 'majority'. The 'first class citizen' and the 'second class citizen' in other countries as we see. Law is fine, remains in books, but it's not applied, fairly. 

If representation of other groups, communities is better in a society, then there is some hope, somewhere. Otherwise, in any majoritarian society, the 'core'--the supremacists among them, have tremendous privilege, power and even their worst acts, are seen as just an aberration.

Now leave US, in an Asian country, you can have a person killed because of his name or religion, murdered in encounter or lynched, or spend years in jail. However, a right-wing thug gets away easily and even gets respect. 

So, institutions and media must be more inclusive. Majoritarianism and right-wing tilt can do this to strong countries. Institutions must be strong. The system of checks and balances is needed. America has diversity and it is more inclusive than many other countries. Hence, it will be able to deal with such a situation. But it's not easy in other countries. And, that's the lesson. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

Muslim youths save lives of four Hindu men who were trapped under rubble after mishap: Communal Harmony Project-57


When the roof of a corridor on the premises of a crematorium fell, Muslim youths rushed and saved the lives of 4 Hindus who were trapped under the debris.

Samir, Shadab and Tanvir rushed to the spot, took initiative, showed exemplary courage and presence of mind. 
They managed to rescue people and saved four lives. Speaking to journalists, they later said that at that point of time, they were only worried about the trapped people and hoping to save them. 
This incident occurred in Ghaziabad district in Uttar Pradesh. Good Samaritans always help others without looking at religion or caste in times of trouble. 
However, there is another aspect, something related that I want to discuss in this post--a phenomenon that's unfortunate & needs attention. 
A person who heads a Hindi news org, I know him for years, who claims to be a proponent of 'Hindu cause', was targeting Muslims on Facebook for a few days, and on this particular day was no exception. 
It was the biggest mishap in days, lives were lost, yet he had no tear or words, not even wrote a line about it. He spent the day in his anti-Muslim propaganda.  He was mocking the arrest of Munawar, a comedian in Indore, though there was no evidence to suggest that he mocked anyone's faith.
However, in his posts, he was suggesting that this action was not harsh enough, drawing parallels with other countries, talking about Pakistan as usual. I mean, the guy who at the drop of hat, asks the other 'aap tab kahaan the, is par kyoon nahi bole, us par kyoon nahi bole' [Where were you when this incident occurred....Why you didn't speak when this happened....]
Unfortunately, a section in our population is now at a stage where religion and identity is strangely more about obsession with the other's religion, always comparing, competing with 'others' and this competition is also in being 'more wicked, more oppressive, more evil', doing more bad, NOT in taking positive steps or spreading harmony.
So the reality is that such hate-peddlers have no concern with 'their own' either. For them, spreading hate gives them some attention on social media, may be thrill for sometime. Otherwise, Good Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians & all others, show it in real life. They act, rush, save lives as in Ghaziabad.
[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily. 
There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. 
This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project] For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]
#Communalharmony #Communalharmonyproject #India