Is All This Mere Coincidence? by Mohammed Ataur Rahman (JANUARY 10, 2011)

Mohammed Ataur Rahman on the unequal treatment of Muslims by the capital’s print media.

The first few days of the new year have brought quite a few coincidences. Late last week, the venerable Time of India carried a news story saying there would be stricter security checks on airports from this year.

The story said nothing particular about the religion of the people to be subjected to stricter security (it is for people of all religions, nationalities and races, in fact), but the TOI used a (rather large) picture of a bearded maulana-type person being searched.

Many Muslims asked each other: “How come they are using a picture that symbolises a Muslim religious leader while the story does not indicate a particular religion? Could not they use a religiously neutral picture? What does it say about the mindset of such editors and page designers?”

When I told it to a journalist friend, he replied casually: “Come on yaar, this is just a coincidence!” He had not seen the reports about Hindutva terrorists and their involvement in six major blasts. Seems so.

Coincidences are Muslim-friendly, I guess. Another such episode is the capital’s English dailies blacking out the news of honourable acquittal of eight Muslims charged with involvement in 1993 Mumbai riots. This news was given a major, front-page display in the Urdu newspapers last week.

When I asked the same journalist friend, he was not able to dismiss it as lightly. Supposing the Hindutva terrorists were let off honourably, would the New Delhi dailies ignore them? He had no reply.

Just think of the display the media had given to the concocted police stories against these innocent Muslims in 1993. Is it not their moral responsibility to do something to atone for their sins? My journalist friend has no answer.

At the end of the year, we saw a rash of inspired reports on SIMI, IM and other such scary groups planning to create a havoc in the country. Naturally, I was alarmed like any other Indian. In those reports Ranchi figured as a target.

Some of these mischievous reports cited intelligence sources at Ranchi. When local media tried to verify these reports from their police sources, it turned out to be a mischief planned by some quarters. It turned out to be propaganda designed for distracting attention from Hindutva terrorists.

My friends in the capital’s media have not found any explanation for it. Let us assume this, too, is a coincidence!


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