International Affairs Journalism Opinion

Media, Muslims and Mujahideen

Now that the Delhi Police has “cracked” the bomb blasts, I can make my own confessions. Suspicion is not a fundamental right enshrined in Indian Constitution but it is an unalienable right in a flourishing democracy. Suspicion is the fundamental premise on which the edifice of our intelligentsia stands. Therefore, intelligence agencies cannot be denied the right to suspect. The same right to suspect cannot be denied to ordinary Indians. Equality is the hallmark of a true democracy.

The journalist in me has a problem when an official declaration, a chronological monologue, is treated as the gospel. It is not the job of a journalist to arrive at conclusions. The job of a journalist is to stand outside the circle and communicate nuances and niceties taking place inside the circle. When a journalist jumps into the circle, he becomes part of the story. Proximity breeds bias. Bias breeds bigotry. A true journalist can be anything but he can never be a bigot.

Journalistic bigotry is dangerous for it plays a vital role in shaping public opinion. Each such story leaves an imprint on public consciousness. In each blast, media, the fourth estate, behaves like fourth mistake. The needle of suspicion automatically swings towards Muslims whether it is Mecca Masjid blast or Malegaon blasts in which devout Muslims were specifically targeted inside their mosques. Every time there is a blast, Muslims find themselves in the no man’s land. They are caught in the crossfire between intelligence agencies and terrorists. Neither of them will trust Muslims. The day-today Muslim problem is bread and butter rather than the bomb.

Each blast is viewed from the green lens of Islam although saffron lens is equally making India red. One of the reasons for these blasts is to put the entire Muslim community in the defensive mode by systematically manipulating Islam. The trick is like a psychological warfare before the beginning of actual war.

It is true that a minuscule minority among Muslims has become radical. It is equally true that a minuscule minority among Hindus has gone on the extreme. SIMI, RSS and Bajrang Dal, are competing identities, each one claiming to represent their respective community. It is competitive extremism at work which can be summed up in one-line: My version of extremism is better than yours! Media plays safe when RSS and Bajrang Dal are involved in bomb blasts while it indulges in triumphant journalism when SIMI comes under the scanner. The reason for this differential approach is commercial: No businessman would want to antagonize the majority Hindu readers. Media, therefore, claims to be nationalistic but it only practices majoritarian nationalism.

From a journalistic point of view, I have a problem when Police changes the names of ‘alleged’ (it is one adjective which we in the media have abused and used at will) masterminds overnight. First it was Abdus Subhan Qureishi (alias Tauqeer), now it is Atif, the “terrorist” who has been gunned down.

The journalist in me finds it hard to digest that Mufti Abul Bashar, the alleged mastermind of Ahmedabad blasts, is linked to Delhi blasts. If Bashar is really connected to Delhi blasts, the bomb blasts should never have taken place since he was in police custody when the blasts took place. How can Bashar, a poor madrasa-educated person mastermind Ahmedabad blast with such precision? When did Indian Madrasas start producing tech-savvy Muslims? Indian government would love that to happen! There won’t be any need for Central madrasa board for modernization then!

Police says that the educated Muslims are involved in the blasts yet they arrest who will not be termed ‘educated’ by worldly standards. Mufti Bashar is just one example. A section of the mainstream media is extremely behaving like the nautch girl of Indian intelligent agencies. Instead of investigating the police claims, media is promoting self-contradictory journalism.

The journalist in me has a problem when a TV correspondent spits out the intelligence feed that there was a meeting of SIMI in 2001 where 200 youth were recruited to wreak havoc across India. What was our intelligence agency doing for the last 8 years?

Muslim accused are being branded as terrorists before the proper investigation and filing of the chargesheet. The actual trial by a court of law is yet to begin but the trial by media has already passed its judgement. Sample this:

“Mohammed Saif, the terrorist (emphasis added) who was arrested after Friday’s encounter, even possessed a fake voter card.” (TOI, September 21, page 1, Delhi edition)

Isn’t it a perfect example of Judgemental journalism?

Meanwhile Muslims live under siege and fear. State, said Mahatma Gandhi, is nothing but organized violence. Friday’s encounter of Jamia Nagar in Delhi raises some disturbing questions. Local Muslims have termed it as “dubious.” They have reasons to believe so. As a Delhi friend put it, “No one saw cross firing yesterday. Only the police claim it happened. Did you read in any report that anyone actually saw cross-firing?” She added, “How come the two so-called terrorists managed to flee? There was only one exit.” She asked, “If they knew they were going for a possible encounter, why wasn’t the building or the area properly covered by the police?”

Her conclusion was chilling and disturbed me:

“But the point is that they can kill anyone anywhere. Tomorrow my brother might be the target and on flimsiest of grounds with no chance of proving the innocence. You are guilty just because they say so.”

“It makes me bloody angry.”

Indian Muslims live with fear, security, discrimination and terror tag. A bunch of the so-called ‘Muslims’ have hijacked their Faith. I detest when somebody says those who planted the bombs were Muslims. Indian Mujahideen, a faceless body, has launched a faceless jihad for the sake of Indian Muslims. A true jihad can never be faceless. If one peers through Islamic history, he will come to know that a jihad is a battle which is fought under the banner of recognition and not anonymity.

I see a problem when a country of more than one billion people can’t arrest a loose bunch of murderers who want to convert India into a slaughterhouse.

Indian intelligence agencies have some much input yet they produce zero output.

India’s 160 million Muslims have a problem: fear. And nobody is willing to even listen to them. They are the in-betweens of India’s fight against terrorism. They want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. India needs to integrate them. A Muslim friend put it bluntly, “Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Where the mind is without fear‘ no longer adorns my wall.”

About the author

Mubasshir Mushtaq

Mubasshir Mushtaq is a freelance journalist and corporate analyst for DinarStandard.com. He is the Indian correspondent for Egyptian website Islamonline.net. He also writes for Inquilab, India’s largest selling Urdu daily published by Mid-Day Group. His pieces have appeared in the Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle and Covert magazine. He specialises in law, journalism and current affairs. He says, “Business runs in my blood, law lies in my logic and journalism in my jaw.” He is 25 and holds a PG Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication.

8 Comments

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  • Mubashir – since you are a journalist, it would have been good if you could have verified your facts before writing the articles.

    1. Abul Bashar is in custody after Ahmedabad blasts. He helped police with some inputs that led to the arrests of Delhi blast masterminds.
    2. The person who died was Atif – and he is different from Subhan.
    3. Emails from hacked wifi networks have been sent before and after the attacks… an ex-anti-terrorism expert from RAW has been writing for a lot of years with information that I have checked again and again to be true.. he analyses the emails in his article – B. Raman

    I personally have a very poor opinion of Indian media.. but for the opposite reason… they are sensationalist.. and have very poor standards in times of terrorist violence.

  • Desh, Thanks for the comment. I always make sure that my facts are right.

    1. I agree that Abdul Bashar was in custody after the Ahmedabad blasts. But he had been named as “mastermind” by the Indian media. This was played on almost all Indian news channels before the encounter happened. More on Abdul Bashar: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?filename=Ne300808Anewdayanewmastermind.asp

    2. I know the dead “terrorist” was Atif. But Abdus Subhan was also named as the “mastermind” of the Delhi blasts. Very little is know about him but yet Hindustan Times called him “Indian Osama bin Laden”. Indian media has reported that he has been missing since 2001. It’s not true. He has been missing since 2006 as his family lawyer Mubin Solkar and his mother said in a press conference recently. His mother also said that he should be hanged if he is guilty. But yet Indian media portrayed him as a “terrorist”.

    3. I know that terror emails and their hacking but we don’t know yet who was behind it. The email has been analysed brilliantly here: http://www.countercurrents.org/ahmed160908.htm

    Also read this: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Sunday_Specials/Special_Report/SIEGE_WITHIN_Tentacles_of_dread_and_the_terror_gameplan/articleshow/3507704.cms

    Lastly some questions have been raised by prominent Indian citizens about the encounter:

    A team comprising activists, academicians and journalists visited the site of the police operation against alleged terrorists staying in an apartment in Jamia Nagar in the afternoon of 20.09.2008 (Saturday). Two alleged terrorists Atif and Sajid, along with Mohan Chand Sharma, an inspector of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell died in the operation while a third alleged terrorist was arrested.

    On the basis of our interactions with the local residents, eye witnesses and the reports which have appeared in the media, we would like to pose the following questions:

    1) It has been widely reported that in early August this year Atif, who is described by the Delhi Police as the mastermind behind the recent terrorist bombings in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi, underwent a police verification exercise along with his four roommates in order to rent the apartment they were staying in Jamia Nagar. All the five youth living in the apartment submitted to the Delhi police their personal details, including permanent address, driving license details, address of the house they previously stayed in, all of which were found to be accurate. Though the police is now denying the veracity of the verification form, Mr. Rehman, the caretaker of the flat, has vouched, on camera, that he accompanied Atif to the Police Station for the verification.

    Is it conceivable that the alleged kingpin behind the terrorist Indian Mujahideen outfit would have wanted to undergo a police verification- for whatever purpose- just a week after the Ahmedabad blasts and a month before the bombings in Delhi?

    2) The four-storeyed house L-18 in Jamia Nagar, where the alleged terrorists were staying, has only one access point, through the stair case, which is covered by an iron grill. It is impossible to leave the house except from the staircase. By all reports, the staircase was taken over by the Special Cell and/ or other agencies during the counter-terror operation. The house, indeed the entire block, was cordoned off at the time of the operation.

    How then was it then possible, as claimed by the police, for two alleged terrorists to escape the premises during the police operation?

    3) The media has quoted ‘police sources’ as having informed them that the Special Cell was fully aware about the presence of dreaded terrorists, involved in the bombings in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi, staying in the apartment that was raided.

    Why was the late Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, a veteran of dozens of encounter operations, the only officer in the operation not wearing a bullet proof vest? Was this due to over-confidence or is there something else to his death during the operation? Will the forensic report of the bullets that killed Inspector Sharma be made public?

    4) There are reports that towards the end of the counter-terror operation, some policemen climbed on the roof of L-18 and fired several rounds in the air. Other policemen were seen breaking windows and even throwing flower pots to the ground from flats adjacent or opposite to L-18

    Why was the police firing in the air and why did it indulge in destruction of property around L-18 after the encounter?

    5) The police officials claim that an AK-47 and pistols were recovered from L-18.

    What was the weapon that killed Inspector Sharma? Was the AK-47 used at all and by whom? Going by some reports that have appeared (see ‘Times of India’, 20.09.08), the AK-47s have been used by the police only. Is it not strange that alleged terrorists did not use a more deadly and sophisticated weapon like the AK-47, which they purportedly possessed, preferring to use pistols?

    We feel that there are far too many loose ends in the current story of the police encounter at L-18 in Jamia Nagar. We demand that a fair, impartial and independent probe into the incident be initiated at the earliest to answer the above questions as also any other ones that arise from the contradictions of the case.

    Signed/- Shabnam Hashmi (Anhad), Satya Sivaraman (Independent Journalist), Manisha Sethi (Forum for Democratic Initiatives), Tanweer Fazal (Forum for Democratic Initiatives), Arshad Alam (Jamia Millia Islamia), Neshat Quaiser (Jamia Millia Islamia), Pallavi Deka (General Secretary, JNU Students’ Union)

  • Dear desh,
    u mean 24 old guy atif is the master ming of all blast hapnd in Delhi?,
    why police men kill the poeple in encounter attack?, they dont clever? its very eazy to catch by the help aljamiya college, bcz both guys are study there?. i belive its preplaned by police, there is no doubt for me, only one exit, then two of them escaped?, that time all police are gong to catch the maango?, here any bomb blast first of all coming to muslims, here in india, orissa and karnatak, bajarangdal making communal rivot, that is not a sensation in this media and govt, also our U P A govt hve no central born to take the action at the right time,

    u knw “nandode”, when the making of bombblast the two bajarangdal person are dead by the bomb blast[by mistake]. why the police dont go that way?

    if did muslim or any other person, there is not doubt? must punish? to safe for our country, bcz innocents poeples are giving his life to these dirty politics play?

    i 100% sure this is a preplanned encounter,

    regards,
    Yakoob Jabbar

    regards,
    Yakoob

  • Dear Mubashir:

    Atif has never been the mastermind. Subhan – because of his links and hiring of software folks and Abu Bashar – were the two named masterminds.. Having said this, planning of a series of blasts – as you will be aware because you also face the same predicament in Pakistan – is done at different levels. The local level of planning was apparently done at their level.

    As for the letter – it is very easy to write things in the end.. and specially when it comes from those jokers in JNU type of leftist organizations I dont have much faith in them anyways…

    Moreover, the truth is:

    – Blasts happened
    – A top Police officer who had seen and braved such exchanges with terrorists died.
    – Emails were sent under the IM name before and after the attacks and were VERY accurate about the attacks.
    – Most of the attacks were in BJP ruled states. One of them being IN the hospital run by Pravin Togadia – an influential VHP member.

    Now, as Yakoob says.. one can theoretically talk of many different suspects.. but somewhere one needs to be reasonable.

    And honestly, the error in judgment as to WHO is the “enemy” will be very bad for Indian masses, but it will be FATAL to the Pakistani society.. for it is the same people! The hatred and the intolerance keeps alternating its target…. whether it is Hindus, BJP, Afghanis, Israel, Mohajirs, Americans, non-compliant Pakistanis, non-observing Muslims, Shias, Ahmediyas.. .. it could be ANYBODY and really the definition of who is targeted is irrelevant… but the aim is unmistakable! I am sure you know that as much as I do.

    The more we kid ourselves.. the more peril we will invite.

  • Dear Mr. Desh,

    Thanks for writing back. It pains me that you don’t get your facts right. Your adamancy baffles me. Why can’t you digest the fact that Atif (earlier referred as Atiq) alias Bashir was the “mastermind” of the Delhi blasts. I am a media professional who is always sure what ensues from his pen. It seems you don’t read newspapers the way we journalists do. You read like an ordinary reader while I read like a journalist. Train yourself to start reading like a journalist! Here I will break your belief into pieces that “Atif has never been the mastermind.”

    Read the following extracts from The Times of India (September 20, 2008 – all references are from Delhi edition):

    “Bashir had been identified as the leading light of IM’s core team — responsible for blasts in three UP towns, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, failed bid on Surat, and Delhi — by both Abu Bashar and Sajjid Mansuri who have been arrested for the July 26 attack on the capital of Gujarat. Dadwal, however, asserted that inputs had not come from Bashar.”

    “Investigators said that Bashir alongwith 10 others had gone to Ahmedabad before the blasts there and had returned by train to Delhi, this time with 12 persons, on July 27. Cops said Bashir was invloved in the recce operations in Delhi ahead of the September 13 blasts.”
    “Besides politicians, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, had rushed to Azamgarh to launch a spirited defence of Abu Bashir, the prime suspect in the Ahmedabad blasts and now suspected to be the chief ideologue of the Indian Mujahideen.”

    Then again on the page 3 of Times of India the headline can even be understood by a class 10 student of a vernacular medium school. It says that Atiq was the “mastermind”. Have a look, Mr. Desh:

    “Dead militant Atiq was IM mastermind”

    You still have any doubt, Mr. Desh? I will give you more references.
    One the next day (i.e. September 21, 2008) Times of India again referred Atiq as “Indian Mujahideen (IM) mastermind Bashir alias Atiq” on page 1.

    If your doubt still persists, I have more to spill over:

    On September 22, Times of India again referred Atiq (correct name Atif) as the “mastermind of IM.”

    The Main lead reads:

    Atif had planned 20 blasts in Nehru Place

    The very first line says Atif was the “mastermind”. Have a look:

    With the arrest of three more Indian Mujahideen-SIMI operatives for the September 13 Delhi blasts, the police said the group’s ‘‘mastermind’’ Atif Ameen alias Bashir, had planned to deliver another deadly blow by carrying out 20 bombings in the business district of Nehru Place.

    Mr. Desh, will you still stick to your self-belief that “Atif has never been the mastermind”. Oh, what a pity, you have used a very strong word “never”! Now you will NEVER repeat it again!

    You have so distastefully debunked prominent Indian activists. I am an Indian who very firmly believes in the argumentative Indian tradition where questioning has always been encouraged. Amartya Sen has written such a fine book on this theme. I am an argumentative Indian while you are an intolerant Indian. You brushed aside the questions raised by eminent Indian activists with crooked callousness. You even called them “jokers” as if you are the ringmaster and they are your jokers! How can you say you don’t have any faith in these “jokers”? A ringmaster certainly has some faith in his jokers! Have faith otherwise the circus will come to an end!

    I am not going to spoon-feed you about all the “joker” activists. I will just throw some light only on Shabnam Hashmi to clear your blinded and biased vision. She is the woman who has sheltered and given new life to 25 children of Gujarat genocide of 2002. She has turned hate into harmony. See this:

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main13.asp?filename=Cr081305Midnights_children.asp

    No “joker” in the entire human history has done this before! I challenge you to find a single instance!

    I can understand that the diet offered by the “jokers” was very heavy. That’s the reason you couldn’t digest it. Don’t worry; I will serve you one simple meal which will help you to understand the “joker” point of view. One does not know how many lies are there but the following only nails one official lie.

    On September 20, Times of India quoted police officials as saying:

    “All the terrorists possessed fake identity cards of Jamia Milia Islamia.”

    But on September 23, Times of India carried a report which made it abundantly clear that the “terrorists” were indeed real students of Jamia Millia Islamia. The heading said:

    Atif, two others Jamia students, admits varsity

    Your “truth” section is factually accurate. But it is only one-side of the “truth”. All we know about the accused is directly from the police and media. In journalism and law, it is referred as one side of the story and argument. God forbid, I am not defending any of the accused, my point is legal. There is a very famous Latin maxim which reads ‘Audi alteram partem’ (No one should be condemned unheard). It means:

    A person is innocent unless proven guilty.

    There is another maxim which says “Every man must be given a chance to defend any allegation made against him”.

    We don’t yet know who is behind the Indian Mujahideen. They could be Muslims or anybody else. For this to decide we have to wait. Only courts can decide whether the accused are guilty or not. It is not the job of the media or anybody else to pass judgment. India is the world’s largest democracy where there is something called rule of law. It takes time but thank God it works!

    Bombs do not discriminate between a Hindu and a Muslim. If the accused are guilty, they must be hanged. That is the only punishment that they deserve.

    “Facts are humbling, they prevent us from jumping to conclusions.”

    PS: I have made my point of view quite clear. I won’t reply If Mr. Desh continues to waffle.

  • Mr desh,
    dear my brother try to find the truth, bcz y go with police, u knw one enocounter hapned in konat plaza delhi, listen carefully, that time police are lived two poeple in to konat plaza and kill them by shoot, after all police said we re killed terrorsts by attack, the eye witnes harikrishnan said that is play of police ,u heard it?, this is one eg: and lots of did like that?

    if u belive atif is a mastermind, y police kill them? y dont catch with alive? hahah

    he give all details including driving license before rentering that house, if he is a terrorist, how he do like that?

    natives are said that is only shoot from police and there is no attack from both sides,

    if going to attack terrorists y police are dont wear bullet proofs?
    also sharma is a very experienced person? sharma got the bullet from the back side not infront, check the picture when lifting the police when he was injured,

    if encounter they going to open the door of atifs? he got the bulley from back side?,

    unbelivable?

    i said its dirty political play?
    and innocents poeples are dying if police are not enquiry without partiality ,this case not to be prove with solid proofs,

    said like mujahidin, simi, leshkar taiba

    tale, “please pass the informatio to IM please take the quotation for undertaking for 100 years of blasts in india so its very helpfull to ur police to say only onetime” like did by im for 100 yrs

    regards,
    Yakoob

  • Dear Paki brothers,
    You complain about the sufferings of your Islamic brothers in India, I wonder if you have shown the same compassion to the sufferings of Hindus in Pakistan.
    Non-Muslims are not recruited in the Pakistan police or the Army.
    How biased can a society be against its own citizens?
    Indian democracy with its flaws a thousand times better than shariat-led Pakistan.

  • dear friends,
    I am very poor in facts neither im a journalist but one thing i know that we fight a lot on trivial things.Hindu fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism both are bad.however muslin fundamentalism is sometines more manifested as compared to the former.Having said that i am of a very strong view that if muslim fundamentalism rises so will be the case with hindu fundamentalism.and it will be detrimental to our country like india.So the hindu right wings should stop complaining about the medeival age atrocities of the muslims and the same goes for indian mullahs.They should recede into background and let a new muslim leader with a secular and modern outlook take over in india rather than the talibanization which is happening in pakistan!!!