Opinion

Silence on Some, Shrill Sound bites on others. Lutyens’ Media’s Dangerous Game of Using Religion of Victims & Accused as Determining Factors.

The culture of selective omission and commission of news on incidents with a specific agenda to show India as intolerant and anti-minority is akin to internal sabotage

On 22nd June, seventeen year old Junaid Khan was killed during an alleged brawl between two groups on a local DMU train while travelling from Ghaziabad to Mathura.  The lynching was the result of an altercation on seat occupation.  Altercations leading to fist fighting over seat occupations in India’s overcrowded local trains are nothing new. But that is no reason to kill someone. And therefore, the murder of Junaid Khan was a heinous crime that deserved all the condemnations and the most stringent punishments for the accused.

There is perhaps not a single soul in India who reads the morning newspaper or is active in social media and is not aware of the murder of Junaid Khan (also known as Hafiz Junaid). And with equal disdain they condemned the murder of Junaid Khan just as much as they had condemned the lynching of Pehlu Khan or MD Akhlaq in the past.

A modern society based on principles of rule of law and equality can never even vaguely support such incidents. Not a single day passed in the last 10 days without a mention of updates on Junaid Khan murder case in newspapers and news portals. Some claimed there was a beef angle as well in Junaid Khan’s stabbing case, which though is contested.

A few news channels asked Junaid Khan’s father to come and speak on the issue. It was time and again reminded by a section of media that the incident was a communal incident and that Junaid’s death exemplified the sheer ‘insecurity among Muslims’ in India.  Is it really a fair comment by activists or an exaggeration without any substance? Point to ponder.

For a section of Indian Media, objective is to highlight some incidents and hide some other from the limelight, depending upon factors.

Today, people know about Junaid Khan’s tragic death. However, has the media been equally proactive in reporting the death of Sarath Madivala, Riya Gautam, Kartik Ghosh or the fatal attack on Bajrang Dal activist Chiranjeevi, all of which happened in the last few days? Is there a bias in the manner in which a section of print and television media highlights some incidents and tend to sideline some other? If the death of Junaid Khan was communal, then what about the following mentioned below?

Junaid Khan’s murder was termed communal and made national news. But what about the murder of Sarath Madivala? Why is Lutyens’ Media silent?

In Mangalore, Sarath Madivala, an RSS worker was stabbed to death. Yes, Sarath was a Hindu and there were threats on the lives of RSS leaders and workers given by a Facebook page named Mangalore Muslims. Did any news channel have any debate about the death of Sarath? Or is it politically incorrect to give a communal angle when the victim is Hindu and that too an RSS worker whereas the accused are allegedly from Islamist groups?   (read here)

I am still searching for footage of any news anchor of India’s leading news channels as to whether Sarath’s father was invited to speak just like Junaid’s father was. Newspapers just carried the news like any other crime incident even though Sarath’s murder is comparable to that of Junaid’s and is perhaps more communal because it was premeditated.

Junaid Khan’s murder was termed communal and made National News. But, what about the murder of Riya Gautam? Why media sidelining it?

In the first week of July, Riya Gautam, an aspiring air hostess was brutally stabbed and killed in broad daylight in Delhi (read here). The whole incident was captured in CCTV footage. The prime accused in this case is Adil Banne Khan. Two others related to the murder, who were arrested are Juned Salim Ansari and Fazil Raju Ansari (read here).  Lutyens’ media did carry the report of Riya Gautam’s murder but it was carried just as any other news of murder is carried.

So if the death of Junaid was given an angle of communalism and portrayed as an example of Muslim insecurity in India, why did the same media not portray in the same breathe the murder of Riya Gautam as plight of a Hindu girl in the hands of a Muslim group? If this portrayal is unfair, then was it fair to portray Junaid Khan’s murder as an example Muslim persecution?

The Assam incident: Another example of stoic silence by Lutyens’ Media

In the same league one may also ask the same media about its stoic silence on the rape and murder of a 58 year old teacher in Assam. Would the same media which prefers to give a communal colour where it suits its purpose, want to give the same colour in this incident too? Or is it that it would not do the same since it would rock the apple cart when it would be known that the perpetrators arrested for the crime have names like Moinul Hoque and Salimuddin? (read here) . Therefore, media should stop this dangerous game of communalising selective incidents of murder and crime where it suits their purpose. And if they do, let them do it for every incident.

‘Where it suits the narrative, give a communal angle to show India as Intolerant. Where it does not, term it as a mere incident of crime.’ That’s Lutyens’ Media’s standard procedure

How it is that one narrative to show Muslims as insecure is right but to even speak about insecurity of Hindu women and how they have been victims is termed bigotry? If one raises the issue of Riya Gautam, the same Lutyens’ media which goes head over heels to give a communal angle to the murder of a Muslim, would lecture by stating, ‘Don’t communalise incidents of crime’. How fair is that?

Timesnow had run an intense expose of how conversions of Hindu Girls are being encouraged in certain parts of Kerala and how there is a rate card for conversions of Hindu girls. How many activists could be seen speaking on this issue? Why is there an eerie silence when the issue of institutionalised conversion agenda being run in parts of Kerala by some islamist groups is raised?  (read here)

Dear Lutyens’ Media, when Kashmiri Army & Police Officers get killed by Islamist groups, the whole nation pays homage in unison to them even as you remain reluctant to question the action of their killers

Talking about Muslim insecurity in India, a fallacy created by a section of media with some ulterior motives, when Lt Ummer Fayyaz was brutally killed in Kashmir, people across the country voiced their condemnation and took out silent procession in his honour and martyrdom. When Md Ayub Pandith was lynched by a Muslim mob right outside a mosque in Delhi, every nationalist Indian felt grief for him.

Sadly those who have been busy creating a narrative of Muslim insecurity in India in the backdrop of murder of Junaid Khan and Pehlu Khan, and tried pitting Muslims against Hindus, completely obfuscated and sidelined the issue that Lt Ummer Fayyaz, Deputy Superintendent of Police Md Ayyub Pandith or Sub Inspectors Feroze Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad were killed by Islamist mob and Jihadi terrorists and not by members of any other community. In those cases the whole country showed grief and solidarity. One just wishes if their sacrifice had got even an iota of the focus that media gives to sensationalise other incidents.

 

For a section of Lutyens’ Media and Award Wapsi Activists, religions of Victim and Accused determine whether it is newsworthy & protest-worthy or not.

Taking the media’s portrayal of certain local incidents and amplifying them to suit a particular narrative of Muslims being persecuted in India, one is intrigued to see how barring TimesNow and Republic TV, very few of the rest in print and television media garnered the courage to say it loudly that Islamist mobs have been on rampage in Baduria in West Bengal. Most have tried to obfuscate it just as they had tried to play down Islamist rampage in Dhulagarh, Kaliachak, Deganga and elsewhere.

Today the situation in Bashirhat sub division of West Bengal is such that many Hindus have already started contemplating their exit from the place, post the communal violence there. After the murder of Kartik Ghosh, things have become worse. But the moot question is where is Shabnam Hashmis of the world now? Where is their condemnation of the communal murder of Kartik Ghosh? Has anybody dared to mention the insecurity of Hindu community in many of the border areas of West Bengal adjoining Bangladesh?

Is the murder of Kartik Ghosh (read here) less brutal and less communal than the murder of Junaid Khan? But the probability is high that most Indians may not be even aware that someone called Kartik Ghosh, a resident of Bashirhat has been murdered by a communal Islamist mob. The reason for this ignorance is that for a section of media, highlighting the death of a Hindu in the hands of Muslims is perhaps politically incorrect but terming the death of a Muslim in the hands of Hindus perfectly fits the narrative.

When Hindu Activists get murdered in Kerala & Karnataka, Lutyens’ Media remembers one of ‘Three Monkeys of Gandhi- ‘Bura Mat Dekho’.

Over the last few years, scores of RSS workers have been killed Kerala. In Karnataka too there have been many incidents of Hindus being killed by members of radical Islamist groups. Sadly those don’t even find a mention, leave alone a front page article or a prime time news debate. Even as this article was being written, reports of a Bajrang Dal activist Chiranjeevi was attacked with swords in Ullal, Karnataka.

The irony is that when a Hindu is killed, the killers are termed ‘unidentified miscreants’ or simply assailant whereas when a Muslim gets killed, suddenly the same media which suffers from amnesia in other cases, tend to portray the incident in a manner as if the whole Hindu community should collectively be made guilty of that murder for the wrong act of a few. The moot question is why is there such shameless double standards? Can media kindly stop this?

There is no TRP when Victims and Accused are both from same religion. Thus Lutyens’ Media avoid mentioning such incidents.  Read below

The bigger irony is that even when lynching has become a favourite topic of a section of India’s print and television media, the lynching of three men and the burning alive of two men in UP’s Rae Bareli district, earlier this month, found just a passing mention and not furore across channels and newspapers as was created in case of Junaid Khan’s tragic murder. Reason? The ironical reason is that in this case both the victims and the perpetrators are both from Hindu community and thus this is not an interesting topic for Lutyens’ Media. Worse, there is no Dalit- upper caste conflict  angle to it either since the victims are all Brahmins per se. And thus, media preferred to sideline it.

Those killed were Rohit Shukla, Brijesh Shukla, Anoop Mishra, Narendra Shukla, and Alok Mishra.  Those arrested for their lynching are Vijay Kumar Yadav, Krishna Kumar Yadav, Pradeep Kumar Yadav, Ram Bahal Yadav,and Bhadhau Yadav. (read here). Lutyens’ Media was surely upset as it could not find anything sensational in it. For a vast section of media, core issue is not to create public sentiment against lynching but to sensationalise selectively some of them to create a communal and caste rift wherever possible and portray India as intolerant.. If that possibility is not there, they don’t simply make it a cover story even if the incident is heinous.

India would not evolve as a nation till the time Lutyens’ control of Media remains

Let every incident of communalism be equally condemned. Let every incident of murder be equally condemned and let no one be spared on the basis of caste, creed or religion. However, the most obnoxious culture of political calculations that a large section of media does before deciding on projecting an incident as news is what has been the biggest curse on India. So long it continues, India would continue to suffer and would continue to be internally corroded.  Selective amplification of certain incidents and sidelining of others, depending on the religions of the victims and accused is perhaps the biggest sin Lutyens’ Media and Pseudo-Liberal elites of India have done for years.  The nation should never forgive them.


Pathikrit Payne

 (Pathikrit Payne is a New Delhi based Policy Analyst)

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