Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bangle seller was beaten up, then booked and got bail after 107 days: Role of Hindi media in Indore case

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

More than three months ago, the video of a man being threatened and brutally thrashed, had gone viral.

People were outraged as they saw the person was beaten just 'for selling goods in a locality'.

Soon, it was confirmed that the incident had occurred in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. There were voices in support of the bangle seller. 

But those who tried to help him get justice, also faced a lot. The attacker claimed that the bangle seller was a Muslim who posed as Hindu, and harassed a girl. 

So, the victim who got thrashed, was not just booked, but also arrested and charged with provisions under the stringent POCSA. The youths who tried to help Tasleem were seen as troublemakers and they were given notices that they would be externed from district limits. 

Shockingly, when right-wing groups staged a huge protest without any permission and raised objectionable slogans in full public view, no action was taken. The man who had attacked Tasleem was freed. However, he remained in jail.

The role of TV channels was also similar. The attacker's strange logic about a Muslim person going to Hindu locality to sell bangles, was linked to the 'Love Jihad' controversy. The regional TV channels' reports were on these lines [see screenshot].

It took months, in fact, 3-1/2 months before, he could even come out. However, those who had stood for him, still appear as they had got notice to explain their role by administration. 

In between, the local Hindi newspapers remained soft on attackers and their supporters, didn't portray the groups that had raised slogans as troublemakers. 

The newspapers and TV channels shifted the report and gave it a twist, immediately, and pushed the right-wing narrative. 

As a result, the attack on victim was no longer the story. He got booked and went to jail, remained there for such a long period and continues the case, as trial is on. However, those who created ruckus and raised slogans faced nothing at all. Is that 'journalism'? Unfortunately, that's 'mainstream journalism' and more so, Hindi journalism.


If one reads Dainik Bhaskar and analyzes its coverage then it shows clear bias in reporting. When right-wing groups gathered in large numbers, the paper calls it 'protest by Indore'--'Indaur jutaa'.

What a spin! An attempt to legitimize the ruckus, twisting and presenting it as genuine protest over an issue while delegitimizing the other one where a small gathering that came to stand with victim, is termed 'unmaad', a very strong word. 

So in one case, paper presents a group in a totally negative way, even if very few people came up and they just wanted justice, stood without sloganeering or ruckus. But in the other instance, which is huge, they don't see 'unmaad' or even criticise the mob or ask questions as to who was behind such a huge gathering. Worse, despite video evidence, paper doesn't report slogans. 

Rather, support it, and even bring 'LJ' angle, own it up, as 'our' and 'of entire Indore'. Why no mention about inflammatory words, how such a gathering was allowed despite Covid protocol and admin was not aware! 

This is India's largest circulated daily. The way it gives 'spin' day after day. Can make any rowdy group or goons as 'your city', 'you', 'your representative' and as a result, you won't go against them. 

Paper ensures that you, the reader and more so, the majority, feels that it's your people, your protest, your issues, your demand and make you take a stand in favour of the attacker and against the victim. This is the sort of 'journalism' that so cleverly divides society, moulds the mindset of society and stops the wheel of justice from moving ahead. It has affect on everyone. All politicians, all officers. And the society. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain: Leading educationist, author and champion of women's rights in undivided India

An author and educationist who opened the famous school for girls more than a century ago, Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, is one of the most inspiring women and a role model in the sub-continent. 

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain was a multi-faceted personality who was champion of women's rights and a writer. 

In fact, she wrote extensively and left two volumes that has collections of her essays apart from a famous novel. 

She dreamt of a world where women were at the top--working as scientists, flying aircrafts, running universities and taking stand against war. 

Talking about her achievements, just remember the era she belongs to--she was born before Maulana Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru. She presided over education conference, organised women, opened the school that runs in Kolkata till today [now run by the State government]. 

After marriage, her husband had fully backed her and she learnt English. Begum Rokeya had gone from house to house, urging women to send their daughters to school. She attended conclaves and conferences, even presided over Indian Women's Conference.

Her life is a shining example of how a woman in that era, worked hard for emancipation of women. She died in 1932, at the age of just 52. She was buried in Sodepur in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, India. She was born in undivided India and she is a hero in Bangladesh too. BBC's poll had her listed at sixth place. 

She was born in Rangpur. Her birth and death anniversary fall on December 9, and hence it is termed as Rokeya Day. Great women leaders who led in social, educational fields, wrote & stirred people apart from literary output, pathbreaking work on the ground, must be remembered. 

Photo courtesy: Pirganj Kasimon Nessa Girls' High School, Pirganj, Rangpur [Facebook page]

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Communal riots in India: Jalgaon, Bhiwandi killings and failure to act on Commission's reports

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

As lynching incidents and hate crimes continue, we talk about the failure of institutions, particularly, the inability of police and agencies in promptly dealing with violence. 

Also, we talk about how police often fail to act on mob and often the victim gets harassed or framed due to the street power of the goons and their political associations. 

But we have reached the state not in a few months or years. It has been a weakening of institutions over decades. Decades ago, when riots occurred, it often happened that the officials didn't act promptly and excesses or biased action took place.

Imagine, just a year after the horrific Ahmedabad riots of 1969, there were communal riots in Jalgaon, Bhiwandi and Mahad in Maharashtra. Over 120 persons were killed in the riots in these three places and property was destroyed.

The riots had again drawn attention of the nation. Muslims suffered heavily, in terms of loss of lives too. After the riots, justice DP Madon was given task for judicial probe in Jalgaon. Running into six volumes it was a very clear report. 

The role of police had come up in debates. In Jalgaon, out of 43 persons killed, 42 were Muslim. One of the most heart-rending incidents was the killing of Hajra Begam's children in front of her eyes. This had prompted Nida Fazli to wrote the famous verse. 

But, as usual, communal riots were seen as a regular feature in those days. After a few days, news would not be on front page and then focus was lost. The Madon Commission report was voluminous, it had brought out everything in open. 

There was documented evidence, commission report told everything. Evil should have been nipped in the bud. Government should have acted. The names of organisations, their role, their entire planning and all other information was there in the report. 

In Lok Sabha, Mohd Ismail had tabled adjournment motion. Speaker said that he was not sure that the motion could be allowed as it was state subject. The point is that if governments were serious, they could have taken banned the outfits that were involved in large-scale rioting and killings, then only. 

But this didn't happen. The will was missing, there was no intent. If government acts tough, there is fear among the lawbreakers and rioters. These organisations continued to function and there was no serious action. Neither the special acts or tough laws were invoked, nor there were steps taken to stop these organisations from expanding. 

As a result, they were emboldened and within a decade--by 1980s they were able to mobilize so many people that violence spread across India during Rath Yatra. So today when talk about how institutions collapsed, it's not that suddenly in the last five or ten years this has happened. 

Two decades later, the deadly Mumbai riots too witnessed the same pattern. The Justice Sri Krishna Commission report kept gathering dust for years and its recommendations were not acted upon. Role of Congress was perplexing and the major changes that were needed in administration, forces, composition of police and implementation of laws, couldn't take place.

Successive governments played a role and the decades of softness towards fundamentalist and radical groups, made them so powerful that it became almost impossible to stop them in later years. Photo is just for representational purpose. Courtesy