One more astonishing commentary

The one-sided and unfair reporting of the Bangladesh scenario in the Indian media has found mention here (in this column) earlier; a magazine like Tehelka is also no exception though it usually tries to bring the ground reality to the limelight. Now a more astonishing and more distressing commentary by a very renowned and globally acclaimed commentator has come to the fore, on the same subject and in the same tone. This commentator is our Kuldip Nayar, who is the senior most journalist after Sardar Khushwant Singh. Having seen the headline of his article in some daily newspapers on 20 March, it was hoped that the writer would have done justice to the topic and suggested to the Bangladesh administration not to dig up the old issue; that he would have advised the new generation to forget the bitterness of 1971 and direct all the energies to the progress and development of the country; that he would have condemned the excesses and persecution perpetrated by the government of that country on Jamaat-e-Islami, severely criticized the methodology and decisions of the international tribunal, and would have asked Sheikh Hasina as to why it did not occur to her to initiate cases of war crimes when she had come to power earlier and why it has occurred to her now. Now what has happened there that she is targeting Jamaat people there, sidelining all the State affairs?

And this is the same Nayar sahib
But there was nothing of the sort in the commentary of Mr. Nayar; not even a bit of objectivity. It was on the same line that the Indian media has adopted on the issue: “The sense of Joi Bangla is returning home… a country which had lost its ethos is returning to the right path… the spirit of Bangladesh has enlivened in the people of Bangladesh… they want death sentence for the perpetrators of war crimes and ban on the Jamat-e-Islami… this spirit of the youth is necessary for the development of Bangladesh…. The situation is not easy when money is pouring into the coffers of the Jamat.” It is interesting to note that this is the same Mr. Nayar who has been active for a long time for the betterment of Indo-Pak relations. He keeps on advising both the countries to forget the bitterness of 1947 and establish cordial relations afresh; there is no gain in keeping the bitterness of Partition intact. But he is very much happy at the return of the 1971 bitterness in Bangladesh and at the “awareness” of sense of revenge in the youth there, is encouraging it and deems it necessary for the development of Bangladesh.

Had he been aware…
It was, and is even today, my opinion that Mr. Kuldip Nayar is a well-aware journalist; that he keeps deep insight into the events and developments and comments thereon objectively. But not a single quality of his could be seen in his commentary on the Bangladesh scenario. As for the Jamaat there, he has given the impression of total ignorance about it. Had he been aware of it, he would have written: “As a patriotic unit the Jamaat had been against the division of Pakistan; its men might have taken part in the armed struggle but the charges of killing innocents, attacking non-Muslims, excesses against women, looting properties and indulging in destructive activities levelled against them are wrong and baseless….” Perhaps Mr. Nayar would have also written: “During the 1971 war there was widespread propaganda against the Jamaat besides the Pakistani army; they had been character-assassinated; baseless news and information were being spread. These news and reports were released with the dateline of “Mujeeb Nagar” and this “Mujeeb Nagar” was situated in a hotel of Calcutta (now Kolkata)….” But I don’t know whether Mr. Nayar is really unaware (of these facts) or is practising feigned ignorance as a policy of expediency. However I respect Mr. Nayar very much but this commentary of his did not behove his status and position. Even now, it is my pleasant view that he could not get the time to understand the present ground realities in Bangladesh. 

28/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


Most important point of the commentary

One important point in the commentary on the irresponsible behaviour of the Indian police that the renowned journalist of English media Sagarika Ghose has published in the Hindustan Times (13 March) on the question of terror incidents is also the lack of transparency in police actions. She writes: “The police must be transparent on why the Muslim youths were caught and must openly state on what basis the youths were implicated. It is only when the cult of secrecy on flawed investigations is broken, that we can make sure that other innocents are not caught and those who are continuing to bomb with impunity are brought to justice. The rise of Islamic radicalism, and its possible links with terror are concerns, but investigations need to be transparent and not end up as fishing expeditions where a person's faith or political beliefs determine his guilt in a criminal case.”

This demand is old
The lady commentator’s view that the police should clearly express the causes of its action is the point that Muslim leaders and human rights groups have been putting forward in one way or the other. This has been reiterated in this column as well. But the police and the supporters of its action reject it saying that this is not possible and that the police cannot be made to follow it. – On the demand that before raiding a house or detaining the accused the police should at least take the dignitaries of the vicinity in confidence, the police reject the demand saying this would alert the accused and prove cause of their escape. There is indeed worth in this anxiety of the police; the news may reach the accused. But it is not necessary that the accused are real culprits; even the innocent persons can escape, thinking of the police excesses and ill-known methods. But the police can do this work at least soon after the detention. The family members and neighbours of the accused should be called in the police station and briefed with solid evidence about the charges levelled against the accused person or persons.

The reason of laying stress
And Sagarika has laid stress on this very point. And the reason of her laying stress is that the police raid a house and detain whomsoever they like; then they do not say where and how the accused are, not to say of mentioning of the causes of the detention. It has also been observed that the police pick up a person in the dead of night and many days later claim that they have arrested him at some railway station or bus stand. Then they also claim to have seized from him “solid documental proof”; and these “proofs” are the ones they prepare during the period from the day of picking up and the day of claiming his arrest. – But it is not that easy for the police to accept Sagarika’s demand of transparency. For, this mentality and this strategy are not only of the police and other government agencies; there might be state policy behind it. If the police had not been bad-intentioned and they indeed had the proofs, they must have revealed them at the very first instance as this is their need as well. It is necessary that a delegation comprising Muslim leaders, human rights activists, justice-loving members of the civil society and analysts like Sagarika Ghose talks to the Home Ministry in this regard.

22/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


The commentary awaited

The Muslims have been raising voice against the smear campaign going on for many years to harass the Muslim citizens by dubbing the acts of violence perpetrated by some unknown and unseen forces as Islamic terrorism. Human rights groups and some noble souls also speak against this situation. But it was desired that there should be some realistic commentary thereon by an eminent personality of mainstream media; for media plays an important role in this situation not only by airing the false stories of police and investigating agencies but by instigating people with the help of making mountain out of a molehill as well. It is the media with the help of which the mischief-mongers and investigating agencies run their business of lies by committing blasts or making them done. The media accomplishes 90% task of implementing the plans. This desire has been fulfilled after a long time. In the Hindustan Times of 13 March, an extraordinary article on this situation by the renowned lady of English media Sagarika Ghose has been published.

Basic points of the commentary
Whatever has been said in this article entitled “Our Keystone Cops” can be understood with these points – “After every blast incident the police having fixed the doubt only on Muslims detain them and they do this work to satisfy the “patriotic” media…. The Home Minister was made to apologise for his statement on Saffron terrorism; but when innocent Muslims are acquitted by courts of law, why an apology is not offered to them?... The police do not have any solid evidence except absurd theories….. If blasts are made by Muslims, why haven’t the agencies told the nation as yet as to why they do this and what their demands are…. Courts too scarcely take notice of the irresponsible behaviour of investigating agencies…. An assertive Hindutva nationalism on social media seeks to demonise the Muslim…. The police can never reach the realities of terror incidents if the police thus continue its trend of implicating individuals of a particular community in a targeted manner…. There must be transparency in the police work.…”

Might it be a state policy?
In her straightforward analysis, Sagarika Ghose has made four institutions the butt of her criticism: police, political leadership, courts and media. Such feelings on media have been expressed by Justice Katju and Teesta Setalvad as well. But this in itself shows extraordinary courage on the part of a towering media executive. However, Sagarika has not turned her focus towards state policymakers while this may be the state policy as well. For without it this destructive policy cannot be promoted. These institutions are nothing before the state power. Matter-of-factly, our government is taking part practically in the campaign of “war on terror” America has launched worldwide. Increasing relationship with America and Israel, participation of American and Israeli agencies in the investigation of blasts, the tone and tenor of anti-Muslim propaganda tell us clearly that whatever is happening is in accordance with the state policy. If these realities are proved on paper, then in this situation what would be the reaction of people like Sagarika Ghose, Justice Markande Katju, Teesta Setalvad, Vidya Subramaniam and Vibhuti Narain Rai? We would stand contended if these people tell us that this is not the case.

19/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


The reporting of Bangladesh

The reports of developments in the Muslim country Bangladesh in our east that have been published in Indian media and are still finding place therein from time to time, are not the reports of events and developments; rather this is a campaign of twisting of facts and changing the direction of events. This is propaganda of the policies of the government of that country; there is no trace of journalistic integrity and search for the reality; the entire stress is on opposition of Islam by targeting Jamaat-e-Islami. In this situation when the 9 March issue of the Tehelka weekly came out with a special story on this subject, the idea that came in mind was that as this magazine has earned name in revealing scandals and bringing the realities to light so here too it might have proved its mettle, for what is happening with Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh is also a scandal, very big political scandal. But the tone of the Tehelka story was the same as other newspapers and magazines have. There was nothing of investigation; only the reporting of statements and allegations made by anti-Islam forces.

Next issue of Tehelka
When the next issue of Tehelka (16 March) came, the readers generally were full of praise for its Bangladesh story and spewed venom against Islam. A reader named Thomas wrote: “Only Muslims can contain Islamism.” A commentator named Ashok Malik has complained to the government and the Indian media that they are not supporting anti-Jamaat (Islam) forces in Bangladesh as they should have. According to the commentator, “the new generation there deserves our help and support.” In this issue, there is an article “Do not give political colour to the protests” by a Bangladeshi lady professor named Amina Mohsin, in which there is some voice of reason to some extent. The issue of rekindling the fire of Bangla and Bangladeshi has been criticised. She has written that the accused of war crimes are not only in Jamaat and Bangladesh National Party; they are also in Awami League; so cases should be filed against them as well. Tehelka did publish this article but thought it necessary to add the note that “these are the personal views of the writer” viz. the magazine does not agree to it.

This is not a matter of surprise at all
This reporting of Tehelka is of course unexpected but not a matter of surprise at all. For, howsoever courage and honesty a media organisation may claim to have; it does have a limit. There are many causes of search for the truth and then keeping from expressing it. There are many causes like “national interest”, business compulsion, TRP, being unaware of realities, purchasing power of the government, lack of direct awareness of the faiths of others, lack of will and search for knowing the truth, influence of hostile propaganda, ease in reporting, personal leaning, on the basis of which an editor, reporter or commentator keeps from speaking the truth. But there should be some newspaper, magazine or channel in this country that brings to light the facts without caring for anything. For example, one allegation levelled against Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is that its men had attacked the civilians in 1971, committed sexual assault against women, and were involved in looting and killing. The world might believe all this due to ignorance but an individual who is aware of Islam, Islamic Movement and Jamaat-e-Islami even in the least, cannot believe all this till the last day. Had there been any responsible media, it might have confirmed this claim easily. 

16/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


Marriageable age?

When the chaudharies of khap panchayat of Haryana recently said that one of the causes of assaults on women is late marriage hence marriage should be solemnized in early age, the champions of the “cause” of women mounted their diatribe on them; and the chaudharies too kept mum. And when, last month, the lady president of Indian Psychiatric Society Dr. Indira Sharma, in her presidential address, made the same statement, the champions including some members of her Society made much hue and cry against her as well. Khap chaudharies of Haryana were simple persons; they were not highly educated and perhaps they were aware of it; there they kept mum at the aggression of educated persons. Common people also understood that the villagers of khap panchayat can’t understand such a serious issue. But Indira Sharma was neither a chaudhary of Haryana nor an uneducated villager; she had formed this opinion after much deliberation, and her professional acumen was also behind it. Therefore, she stuck to her opinion (The Times of India, 9 February). Dr. Indira is also Head of the Psychiatric Department of Banaras Hindu University. Her subject is human psychology.

These different opinions
This discussion on the age of marriage is in the backdrop of an incident of sexual assault on a 23-year-old female student in Delhi on 16 December last. Among the six barbarians was a 16-year-old boy whom the Indian law considers juvenile. Another aspect of this is the proposal advanced by the khap panchayat, Dr. Indira Sharma and many conscientious individuals and circles like them. They are of the view that marriage should be solemnized soon after the age of puberty otherwise problems are bound to come. On the other hand, the idea of keeping population under control is lurking behind the government stand on fixing 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys as the minimum age for marriage. Those who are making much hue and cry on the views of the khap panchayat and Indira Sharma say that there is no relation between the age of marriage and sexual assaults. And it is these people who say that sexual assaults should not be linked with women’s lifestyle, dress and stepping out of their homes, and that young girls should not be told anything in this regard.

What looks apparent
An analysis of the entire scenario reveals the insincerity of the Indian society, especially of those sections which create furor on sexual excesses but do not support the need of searching the causes. Rather they get agitated at the very mention of causes. And if the trend, tendency and thinking of the society is deliberated upon more intensively, a sad reality comes to light that the sexual morality of Indian society is changing fast. Some recent court verdicts show it. Recent evidence is the proposal of Justice Verma Committee that the condition for a sexual act with “mutual consent” should be lessened from 18 years to 16 years. It means this is not necessary for the couples to be married. When the national society is not sincere on a serious issue like sexual crimes, there is no hope for any positive result however loud you raise a voice against it. Then is there no need that some far-sighted group comes to the fore to tell the citizens of the country that the issue of sexual crimes should not be taken separately. This is in fact part of the collective moral rot of the country. 

13/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


“Historic opportunity” in Bangladesh

This is the headline of The Times of India (4 March) and the sub-heading runs thus: “As the battle for Bangladesh’s soul is joined, India must strengthen anti-Jamaat forces”. These titles show what would have been said in the body. The Government of India is being advised that the situation in Bangladesh and the restlessness of the young generation is very good and historic opportunity for India. The Government of India should extend full support to anti-Jamaat forces there and stop Bangladesh at any cost from falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. The future of Bangladesh does not lie in Talibanisation, but in secularism. Khaleda Zia and her Bangladesh National Party will have to be kept from supporting the Jamaat. – Then the same newspaper the very next day (5 March) published an article by a political commentator Sreeram Sundar Chaulia, which is the detail of the idea of this editorial. However, there is a new point in it that the Government of India should have good relations with the opposition parties over there, even with Islamic extremists so that whosoever may emerge as victorious in the next election might not be anti-India. Jamaat-e-Islami has been accepted in the article as an effective power in Bangladesh.

This is the representation of English press
And these two analyses of The Times of India are representing Indian media, particularly English press. The stress of the entire English press is that India should avail herself of the situation prevailing in Bangladesh to stop the Islamists from getting strengthened over there. However, some newspapers are also advising the government to be cautious; they are of the view that direct intervention may promote anti-India feelings there. That is, we should change our strategy. These newspapers have been represented by The Asian Age in its editorial (4 March). The target of English newspapers is apparently Jamaat-e-Islami but the real target is Islam. Whatever abuses editors, reporters, commentators and letter-writers have in their stock, they are using them against the Islamists in the pretext of the terms like “radical Islam, extremist Islam, Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami and religious fanatics. The utmost effort of Indian media is that the spirit of 1971 war (hatred and enmity) that has been rekindled in Bangladesh should not be dampened. There should not be any talk of Islamic Shari’ah system. Efforts are being made to ignite the Bangla and non-Bangla feelings in the same manner as they had been made during 1971 war.

Is this policy of ours right?
But this attitude of Indian media is in fact the expression of Indian foreign policy and it is evident that this policy must have had the support of America and Israel that do not want Deen and Shari’ah live in the collective life of a Muslim country. Now the question is whether this foreign policy of ours is right and useful. The experience in Bangladesh in the past itself replies in the negative. The Muslims of Bangladesh are practising. Despite instilling the poison of Bangla nationalism and irreligious secularism in them in 1971 their relation with Islam could not be cut off. – The other point is that every noble person in the world knows that the allegations levelled against the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami there are baseless, absurd and full of political vendetta and this fact will be known to the world very soon. As for the efforts to establish Islamic life there, the people of that country respect Jamaat-e-Islami despite certain indifferences. Therefore, keeping these realities in view, our government should draw a policy. If a government is formed there on Islamic principles, there is nothing to worry about. That country would establish good relations with our country; and also keep in mind the presence of twenty crore Muslims here.

10/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


The ire of an English daily

A report in the Indian Express (26 February) says that some Pakistani TV anchors have taken the responsibility of moral policing nowadays and are attacking the “freedom” of people. By raiding beauty and massage parlours, they are trying to prove them as brothels. Young couples at parks and other public places are harassed. They are asked whether they are married and whether their parents are aware of their affairs. The newspaper says that TV channels are competing in this work in a bid to surpass one another to gain popularity. The Indian Express is also annoyed at that one anchor Kamran Shahid recently said that one aspect of sexual waywardness is co-education; therefore co-education system should be abolished. According to the newspaper, the people and human rights groups are concerned over this situation. These groups say that TV groups are doing so under the influence of the religious teachings of the “right wing”.

Context of the situation
The context of the situation is that with the strengthening of American influence in Pakistan the shameless culture of the west is spreading rapidly over there. Its foundation was laid during the regime of Perwez Musharraf. Earlier this culture was found in prosperous families and westernised citizens and that too stealthily. But the Musharraf administration allowed it to go public. Therefore shameful acts started taking place at co-ed institutions, parks and other public places. Foreigners were allowed to open brothels in the name of beauty and massage parlours. This was increasing day after day due to American influence. As the rule of American slaves continued even after the exit of Musharraf, there was no question of making any effort to contain it at the government level. Therefore religious circles started taking notice of it. Voices against it started finding place in print media as well and some responsible TV channels have come to the fore.

What Indian media wants
But the Indian media takes it something wrong. It wants that as in India, shamelessness, obscenity and sexual waywardness go public in Pakistan as well; the channels there should be free to promote it as the channels are doing here; a net of brothels should spread under the pretext of running beauty parlours and massage centres there, as they are spreading here. Thanks to the Indian media, the government of Pakistan also wants the same. But unfortunately the people there do not want it; they are not ready to accept this cultural slavery of the west. It is the double-speaking of Indian media that it cries along with gentle citizens when girls and young women are sexually assaulted; but when the causes of those assaults are searched, it does not come along, rather opposes it calling it an attack on the freedom of women. The media of Pakistan does not do so. The media of both the countries should have worked together against this evil but perhaps India media’s love for corporate nature and globalisation does not allow it (to do so).

07/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


The role of Indian police

About 17 years ago a book on communal riots and Indian police was published in English, Hindi and Urdu and was well received in earnest circles. Its author was Vibhuti Narain Rai, a senior officer of Indian Police Services. After a long research of one year, he, in the light of ground realities and authentic information, brought to the notice of the nation the irresponsible behaviour of Indian police and its heinous role in riots. But in fact this was not a book rather a research document which he had put before the police establishment for serious consideration so that police behaviour might be reformed in its light. But the police system totally neglected it. Therefore, Mr. Rai had to get his precious and extraordinary research work published in book form. Renowned and active human rights activist Teesta Setalvad has mentioned it in her recent analysis (The Hindu, 20 February). The article was written in the context of the recent riots in Dhule (Maharashtra) which was in fact one-sided police action against Muslims. The scenes of this police barbarity were well captured in mobile cameras but the media did not pay any importance to them.

After publication of the interview
Thereafter Teesta Setalvad questioned the entire police structure and its system and said that she had done a long interview with Vibhuti Narain Rai in 1995 which was published in about 30 publications. In the interview, Mr. Rai, in the light of his experiences and observations, further highlighted the role of Indian police, according to which the rioters belonging to the majority community take the police as their protector and friend during the riots. Teesta has written that after the publication of Mr Rai’s book and her interview with him the government and the police department did not take notice of it; however responsible citizens and some senior security officers, including the founder and former head of Border Security Force KF Rustomji and DIG Padma Rosha, turned towards it. Expressing concern over this situation, he had emphasised that the police department should take stock of the serious issue of communalism and casteism and take immediate corrective measures otherwise this situation of communal conflict among the various sections of society will take a serious turn. In her article, Teesta has also severely criticised the priorities of TV channels.

It’s not about police alone
The question here is why after all is this character of the police of Indian State? Teesta has confined her analysis to this question. But the area of the question should be wider. Is there all well with other departments of the State? Now this question takes us to the formation of independent India. The situation relates to a mentality which was created before the independence. It was this mentality that created the situation for partition and all the responsibility of partition was thrown on the shoulders of Muslims. A part of the land with Muslim concentration areas was separated in the name of Pakistan. Then a well-thought-out unwritten policy was adopted for the Muslims opting to remain in Independent India. According to the declaration, though the Constitution of the land remains democratic and secular, in which all citizens hold equal status, there is respect for all religious entities; however the ground reality is quite different. A particular mentality was granted full independence and all facilities to create hatred against religious entities and prepare lots of biased government workers with the help of its private educational institutions, literature and organised groups. Today it is that mentality which is at work. The question is not about police establishment only; it is about the behaviour of the State. Therefore, people like Teesta Setalvad and Vibhuti Naraian Rai should concentrate on this very basic question.

04/03/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf


The claim of a channel and its action

‘ZeeNews’ – This is perhaps the oldest of private TV channels. Its claim nowadays is that it is different from all other existing news channels and reports incidents and developments in a quiet neutral manner; that it does not indulge in sensationalisation, prompting and colouring of news. It has reiterated all these claims while reporting Hyderabad bomb blasts from the evening of 21 February till late night. But if we present a gist of the colour and tone of its whole night reporting, it would be like this: “These blasts prove that the roots of terrorism in the country are very deep and strong. They have links abroad; Pakistan, Dubai and Riyadh are their centres, wherefrom they get funds and these funds are used to propagate a particular ideology…. These blasts cannot be carried out without help from inside. Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Indian Mujahideen and other groups are active here. The recent report has it that Pakistan beheaded two of our army jawans and people belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad were present there….”

All wore the same colour
All the channels wore the same colour but none of others had been claiming piety; only ZeeNews staked such a claim, for it wanted to surpass others in concocting false stories, reporting sensational “discoveries” and holding criminal fake groups ascribed to a particular religious entity. However it is common that TV channels and English and Hindi newspapers compete with one another in promptings after each terror blast; every channel and every newspaper wants to surpass others in this job. Some English newspapers also claim courage and neutrality. For example, The Indian Express, whose masthead carries “Journalism of courage”, also does not want to lag behind others in reporting sensational news and spreading absurd long stories after terror dramas. It has never happened that this newspaper carried an investigation on its own after a terror incident, or challenged any story of police and secret agencies from any aspect while reporters of this newspaper make all efforts to hair-split the political and fund scandals so much so that they grill police and secret agencies personnel. But they do not see through any other angle in cases of terrorism.

This mentality is common
And why this media alone? The fact remains that after every incident of violence, great commentators, analysts, former bureaucrats and former ambassadors appear standing in the same line in holding responsible a particular ideology and its followers. Everyone’s wisdom, intelligence, honesty, nobility, and modesty surrender here. None says, even by mistake, that some other terror groups have come to the fore; they too should be investigated. It appears that this unwritten national policy on terror cases has been adopted and it is at work. This is the extraordinary situation prevailing in India which those Muslim leaders cannot comprehend who hold big conferences to demand surface-level demands; however silent Muslim intellectuals and scholars will have to think over it deeply. Today the biggest problem facing Indian Muslims is this which is related to their future in this country. One good factor is that amidst this jaundiced lot of media persons and political commentators there are many honest and truth-loving journalists, analysts and commentators who though speak the truth in low voice today, would definitely support the cause if Muslim leadership makes some concerted efforts for the betterment of the situation. Today Muslims should make only one demand: ‘honest enquiry into terror incidents of the last ten years and the blasts taking place these days’.

28/02/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf