Who’s afraid of Afzal Guru’s hanging and “damaging consequences”? The thin shell of India’s self-appointed secularists.

Posted on February 9, 2013. Filed under: Ayodhya, Bangladesh, Bengal, Christians, Communist, Delhi, Egypt, exile, Hindu, Historians with political agenda, History, India, Islam, Islamic propaganda, Jihad, Kashmir, Kashmiri Pundit, Left, Maoism, Muslims, neoimperialism, Pakistan, Politics, rape, religion, Taleban, terrorism |

Seema Mustafa, a noted journalist, wrote a piece on Rediff  http://www.rediff.com/news/column/hanging-could-have-damaging-repercussions/20130209.htm– about the possibly “damaging” consequences of the rather quiet hanging of Afzal Guru – an Indian from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and an accused as well as convicted of a murderous terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

Mustafa’s primary concerns can be summarized as

(1) supposed signs of “bias” in a section of Indian journalists over questions of “nationalism”

(2) supposed allegation that Afzal did not have a fair trial or adequate representation

(3) supposed fear of “damaging consequences” of the hanging.

Mustafa brings out everything that is wrong with the Indian media’s long history of playing and pretending “secularism” which effectively became Hindu/Saffron bashing while selectively whitewashing, even protecting the image of so-called “minority” religions by clamping down on anything negative motivated by such religions. She writes in such frank tones of a sense of betrayal, that she possibly does not realize how she has exposed the underlying religious politics of selective favouritism that plagues her profession.

A television news anchor, shortly after Parliament terror attack accused Afzal Guru was hung by the government in Tihar jail, declared, ‘All nationalist, secular and progressive people support this.’

That was just one statement amidst a cacophony of euphoric reactions to the hanging, but stood out as many of us who have been opposing the death penalty and questioning the fairness of the Afzal Guru trial certainly do not regard ourselves as communal and reactionary or for that matter anti-national.

Quite the contrary really, and so it did sound strange when journalists supporting death by hanging, refusing to question the fact that Guru did not get a capable lawyer through the trial, and blocking out the responses of those raising such issues, so easily put large segments of the Indian population into their self-defined ‘anti-national’ frame.

And so before analysing the possibly disastrous consequences of this hanging, it is imperative to understand the mindset of television news anchors who have successfully managed to convert personal beliefs into news, and trash all voices of sanity and sobriety that seek answers to complex questions. News channels are supposed to report the news and not give their editorial comments to a point where contrary voices are restricted from giving their views.

Most interesting to read! Now did the colleagues of Mustafa, only report the “news” and not give their editorial comments to the point of restricting contrary voices from giving their views when it came to talking about the rape, eviction, enforced migration – each and every element of genocide by most current standards of definition of a genocide – on the Kashmiri pundits? How many of Seema Mustafa’s colleagues practised what she wants them to – when the targets were Hindus from Kashmir Valley, or did they care to give space to view from the “other” side of what is alleged to have happened in the burning of returning Hindu pilgrims in a locked train compartment at Godhra, that is supposed to have led to the inter-community clashes in Gujarat which has been mad einto an international issue. I remember watching a news report from a well-known “secular” channel of India based in New Delhi – during the heyday of the Kandhmal (Orissa) conflict, when Hindu tribals hiding out in the forests express their fear of being lynched by Christian mobs or their Maoist collaborators – but the news-anchor comments before them along the lines of “look how much they have been threatened so that they they lie out of fear”.  What reports have ever been covered by Mustafa’s secular colleagues on the atrocities carried out by Muslim gangs in Kerala, or West Bengal, or Assam? Did they go and ever give any space to any views on the “other” side, if that other side did not happen to be Muslim or Christian? It is exactly these sort of biased behaviour that strengthens the more radical among the Hindu!

There was a time when reporters followed the news, reporting it as it was, communicating and informing the public, without wearing their prejudice, bias or for that matter, views on their sleeves.

How many times have details of religiously motivated atrocities been ever objectively and impartially reported by the media – without considering the supreme objective of not allowing the tarnishing or exposure of the on-ground modus operandi of extremist religious movements if and only if those movements happen not to be “Hindu”? Riots have been frequent in the state of Uttar Pradesh, atrocities by organized muslim gangs in Kerala, or Bengal – but Mustafa’s colleagues never find the space to report them. By accusing her colleagues of biased and ideologically motivated reporting, Mustafa confirms that Indian media can be and does operate on religious and ideological bias in reporting. In fact many like us draw the inference that it must have been this or that Muslim gang that started a riot – if the media reports it as a violent clash between “two communities”. One way or the other, if the responsibility can be or needed to be – put on “Hindus”, the names or details will be leaked to the sufficient degree to make sure that the conclusion or impression holds.

Afzal Guru has been hung. And apart from the main story the news media has a responsibility to:

one, trace his story with the facts of the case highlighted;

two, review the trial through important voices to see whether he had the best legal advice at hand or whether he was virtually left unrepresented;

three, to find out (and not just from official quotes) whether his family was informed in time, and were asked to meet him as per the humane provisions of law;

four, to seek answers to the commonly asked questions as to why the rush now, has it been prompted by political considerations;

five, to look at the possible political consequences of the hanging at this point in time and analyse whether the death of one man was worth what might follow.

This constitutes responsible reporting. As for the beating of the drums, this can be safely left to the political parties and the government who have held innumerable press conferences to applaud the act.

Has this ever been done by Mustafa’s colleagues when the victims of religiously motivated violence were non-Muslims or non-Christians? Even Sikhs were not always given the benefit of “unbiasedness”! Recently unusually (for Indian courts in such cases) harsh sentences were passed on BJP political leader for her alleged complicity in riot violence against Muslims – and a woman to boot – in Gujarat, on a peculiar legalistic claim that her “crimes” deserved exemplary punishments (I thought law was usually claimed to be about “fairness” and not about “examples”). Did Mustafa and her colleagues go and research the “other” side’s views? Did they report allegations of one “victim” having been in the habit of pulling out his firearm on previous occasions to threaten non-muslims or even use the firearm [I did not see any follow-ups, even debunking attempts, of this by any of Mustafas  secular colleagues]. Significantly, she uses an expression that has often been used in the past by the Indian state, predominantly the Congress and the Leftists, and in some cases – ideology-less regional charismatics, to clamp down on protests against Islamic claims of immunity from even verbal criticism. The ubiquitious claim is that “any crackdown on Islamic violence, protests, or outrage, or even protest or criticism of an Islamic gang coercive street rampage behaviour – is going to lead to a deterioration of law and order problem”. On this excuse Indian state regimes often pre-emptively strike on opposition to Islamic claims, and such an attitude has been primarily responsible for the threats and attacks on writers the Islamic shariacracy in India think of as damaging to their agenda of Islamization of India – like the banning of Salman Rushdie’s book, or the hounding out of the exiled woman author from Bangladesh – Tasleema Nasreen.

Journalists are supposed to play the devil’s advocate, be on the other side of the fence as it were, and review the story in all its dimensions. Indian democracy has many views, and a media that insists only on one view as ‘nationalist’ promotes a monolith that is in contradiction to the pluralism and diversity of this country..

Unfortunately, Mustafa’s case seems to rest on having all these benefits as privileges of the Islamic only – and her voice comes out when she effectively sees these privileges being taken away from the Islamic. Mustafa even does not realize that “nationalism” has its boundaries and terms of debate that cannot be allowed to be infinitely stretched. Otherwise, no attack on the “nation” can be opposed logically, for there will always be a “diversified” view that supports exactly such attacks as valid becausee they do not agree to “our” definition of  “our nationhood”. One day, the presence of non-Muslims will become problematic for “nation-hood” – the argument used by the jihadis of Muslim League and Jamaatis to unleash the partition genocide and carve out “Muslim” nations.

The terror attack on Parliament was heinous. And could have been far more disastrous had the terrorists been able to enter the building.

But Mustafa fails to say that 12 people were killed in that attack. Is this part of merely factual reporting too?Is not “heinous” a qualitative expression and not an objective one?

It was clear at the onset that the police had no clue about the attackers. Finally, Delhi [ Images ] university lecturer S A R Geelani was arrested, and then Afzal Guru was picked up. Geelani’s trial took a chequered course, but because of the support in Delhi and the involvement of wellknown lawyers, he was finally released.

Guru was from Kashmir and unable to afford a decent lawyer. He did not have the money and as senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal managed to say hastily on a news channel, he went virtually unrepresented.

Geelani, contacted by Rediff.com, one of the news sites doing its job professionally, said, “Afzal Guru was denied a fair trial. This has been proved in his last moments. I do not understand the attitude of the government. They have done nothing but play to the gallery.”

“Do you know there is a case pending in the Supreme Court of India ? The court has been looking into the delay into this case, arguments are going on and the matter is pending justice.”

‘Do you think it was right to hurry up the matter?’

“The due process of law has not been followed. This is nothing but a flawed process.”

But somehow we have becomes so blood thirsty as a nation, so wedded to war and violence (largely because of TRP ratings) that we do not like to ask any questions. After all, even a death row convict has rights, or is the case now that all these chaps should be shown no mercy and hung the moment they are convicted by the courts?

As wellknown women rights lawyer Indira Jaising said, while arguing against the death penalty, is there not a right to reform, and if even reform for some is seen as impossible, is there not a right to remorse? And should not it be the job of the sane voice of journalism to ensure that at least the rule of law is respected, and the rights of an individual acknowledged?

The interesting piece about Indian journalism is revealed in the way the “facts” are presented here. Somehow the Indian “police” are seen to be “obviously” not having a clue “right from the beginning”. I am not sure how many police forces of the world have clues to crimes being committed “right from the beginning” – for such details in prior knowledge would in most case lead to prevention of the crime actually being committed. From this “obviousness” in the eyes of the journalist, an ominous silence hangs to the onset of the next statement about Afzal being picked up after the arrest of another. The insinuation perhaps intended is that somehow this allegation of “obvious lack of clue” should encourage the reader to suspect that the police arrested Afzal without any proof or evidence.  If the evidence gathering process was so good and reliable in passing sentences on Kandhmal and Gujarat riot accused after long delays and twists and turns that could have raised even more serious concerns about police “capabilities or intentions” – why is it suddenly so unreliable when the accused is implicated in a violent terrorist attack on the very symbolic seat of Indian democracy?

The impact of the hanging can have damaging repercussions at different levels, and far more than this government will be able to handle. The media informs us, through the usual sources, that the decision was taken after top-level meetings and discussions. So one is led to believe it was a considered decision.

Instead of instilling confidence, this actually evokes fear, fear of being led by a government that clearly is unable to make the right assessments and basically does not care if parts of the country go up in flames.

The government has bitten the bullet as channels screamed with joy, but there is every possibility of the bullet exploding in its mouth. And this is what makes one wonder at a political leadership that willfully invites trouble.

Aspects of the case, as has been pointed out by lawyers as well, were before the Supreme Court and the government could have easily ridden the issue out instead of converting it into a storm that will hit it, in all likelihood, in Kashmir.

The military has clamped down in Jammu and Kashmir. As a resident there said, “Not even a leaf is fluttering here.” But while the state can be confident of maintaining control in normal circumstances, and beating down demonstrations, it also realises that one civilian death will snowball into a major uprising.

The February 11, 1984 hanging of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Maqbool Bhatt led to a decade of the worst violence that India has ever seen. It is true that Afzal Guru does not have the same stature in terms of a leadership profile, but in terms of sympathy and support he was probably far ahead.

Besides, the alienation and anger in Kashmir is in a heightened stage, more so after the death of the young boys in the 2010 stone pelting incidents. A Facebook post by this columnist on Afzal Guru’s hanging has elicited a volley of responses reflecting this anger and alienation and asking why those responsible for the death of the boys have not met with similar punishment.

Now that sounds like a threat, isn’t it? It is time that the pretenders of secularism who actually effectively, on the ground, promote and protect Islamism by their selective reporting or campaigns at manufacture of social consensus in favour of Islamist agenda – realize, that a new generation is coming up. They are seeking to search out the reality of religious politics, especially of the medievalist brand of religiosity represented by modern Islamism. Even a Morsi cannot easily take an Egypt back to the 7th century one-sided propaganda that targeted all other cultures and human freedoms or civilizational achievements for erasure.If Mustafa is so concerned about the Kashmiri boys trained to give a Intifada style uprising – is she also concerned about the Kashmiri Hindus murdered, raped, looted at the start of the Shariafication drive of the Valley in the late 80’s – long before the excuse of all Muslim reaction stemming from the destruction of the disputed structure at Ayodhya could be given ?

The only logical explanation, thus, for the sudden hanging of Afzal Guru is the fact that general elections are around the corner.

And the Congress in its usual cynical manipulation of the votes is trying to eat into the majority constituency with this action. As for the Kashmiris they do not figure in Delhi’s plans. As for the secular forces, the argument voiced by Congress leaders is: ‘Where will you go. If there is Modi as prime minister you will have to be with us.’

So the minorities do not figure either, as they are the bechaara who can easily be made to run into Congress arms while fleeing from communal shadows. The secularists too, in the Congress analysis, will not be far behind as there is no Left and hence no Third Front alternative that could attract them in the polls.

So all in all a cozy scenario, except for the fact that the dynamics of India and the aspirations of the people cannot be controlled and tend to upset the most careful calibrations.

Tut -tut! why such a frustration? Is it so bad to be on the receiving end of the religious politics which had been so good for so many decades in expanding the network of madrassahs and Islamism spreading structures fueled by Gulf money and complicity by Islamophile regimes of the Left and Congress? If the Congress is really the supreme popularists they are made out to be, if saffron is really the outcast of Indian politics, and yet the Congress feels the pressure to need to appease the “majority” of the populations of India – that appeasement politics has run its steam off? That no longer should any population be hostage to the type of totalitariansim represented by Islamism – under excuses or threats of “potential damage”?

Take Islamist threats of damaging more liberal societies, and the tactics of emasculating entire societies by trying to raise apocalyptic visions of destruction and “damages” if terrorists are not pampered – with yourselves away from the public space! Nay! Better – speak more about this – because by doing so, the cozy arrangement to manipulate public opinion through clever manipulation of appeal to liberal values to progress non-liberal agenda  and veiled threats of violence otherwise – gets more and more exposed.

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One Response to “Who’s afraid of Afzal Guru’s hanging and “damaging consequences”? The thin shell of India’s self-appointed secularists.”

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Here, this should help us understand not just Ms. Mustafa’s poorly veiled prejudices but the bigger picture of the Indian media’s connections and motivations:
http://www.india-forum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2209&s=28d9cbb8c490a32d8cca799cd169d763


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