Media

How this Scroll reporter tried desperately to give communal spin to a criminal incident

Last week we had reported how some journalists spread half-truths deliberately to prove some sort of “Hindu intolerance” or “fringe groups” when they claimed that a group of men had beaten up a Muslim woman forcing her to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in Nagaur district of Rajasthan.

The truth was that the men had even forced to her to chat “Allah” as many times as they asked her to take Hindu gods’ names, however the “Allah” part was conveniently ignored by many journalists. We also showed how the Hindustan Times journalist, who was among the first ones to make it ‘viral’ on Twitter, wanted to make it religious and political.

We had also highlighted, quoting local media sources, that the incident was criminal in nature with no religious angle, because the men suspected the woman to be part of a gang that had allegedly been cutting hairs of people, especially of women, in the region in the darkness of night. The gang was also rumoured to be making people unconscious and loot their belongings after cutting their hairs.

However, all this was ignored – despite the whole incident being captured in a video clip and link to local media reports – and some insisted that the crime was communal in nature. Among those attacking OpIndia for pointing out this aspect was a reporter with the leftist propaganda blog Scroll, who came up with this creative interpretation of the video:

Propagandist of Scroll

The above tweet was re-tweeted by hundreds of people, but now the Scroll reporter seems to have deactivated the account (at the time of writing this report).

His lie and spin was obvious as anyone with normal hearing ability and Hindi comprehension can hear that men were not saying “kaun allah” (Allah, who?) but “bol allah” (say Allah!). The same claim was repeated by many others who tried to insist that this was a communal incident and the men were trying to force a Muslim woman to chant Hindu religious slogans – in line with the “fringe Hindu groups on the loose” narrative..

One indeed may wonder as to why someone will force anyone to chant both “Allah” and “Ram” unless they are “secular terrorists”, but as our report had indicated, it was a case of these men trying to intimidate a woman whom they suspected of being part of a criminal gang. Our initial understanding was that they used this tactic just to intimidate and humiliate her by forcing her to say anything that came to their mind.

This has been confirmed – with more details that put the incident in proper context – with follow up reports from local media as well as the English media outlets.

A Dainik Bhaskar report has indicated that this fear about a gang operating in the area and surreptitiously cutting hairs and nails of people, especially of women, is now spreading far and wide in the area. The locals suspect that these are some black magicians who have come from outside the region. One person even claims that not only his daughter’s hairs were cut, the unknown miscreant tried to draw a trishul (trident) on her belly.

It is clear that the locals don’t suspect any “Muslim” gang to be involved in it as such a gang won’t go on drawing trishul on bodies of alleged victims. This whole incident appears similar to the child kidnapping rumours of Jharkhand, where locals suspected outsiders of kidnapping their children. They ended up killing a few innocent Muslims and Hindus due to the rumours and suspicion, and even back then, some journalists had tried to paint the killings as religiously motivated and tried to link it with “cow vigilantism” as happened in this case. Hopefully the police will act soon on these rumours lest Jharkhand type situation arises.

Apart from this, the confessional statements of two men, who were arrested based on the video evidence, also confirms that they were not motivated due to some religious hate or prejudice.

“You lose your mind when you are afraid, and you do not realise what you are doing,” one of the arrested men is quoted as saying in a report by The Indian Express. The man, 25-year-old Prakash Meghwal said that he had seen images of women with their hair shaved on WhatsApp and thus he was afraid of the people who were doing this (cutting hair and looting people).

Prakash and other men had apparently asked the poor woman if she was part of any group. The woman, whose identity is not yet known, was reportedly mentally unsound and she nodded in affirmative. This made the men believe that she was part of the group indulging in this black magic and crime. Most probably, to ascertain if she was a “witch”, they forced her to utter names of Gods as witches are not supposed to utter them.

The men now admit that superstition and fear drove them to commit the horrendous act of beating up a helpless woman. Their families too claim that the arrested men had got nothing to do with any religious or political group and they were taken in due to such unfounded fears prevalent in the region.

“The media is portraying him like a dacoit but we are really simple people – you can see our home…. We love everyone: Hindus and Muslims…we love (people from) all castes. We have no political affiliation either,” 65-year-old father of Prakash lamented.

The arrested men are now repentant and want to apologise to the woman if she is found. Meanwhile administration has said that they will keep an eye and punish people who are spreading this information about a black magician gang cutting hairs and looting people.

Amidst all this, the incident has once again exposed how a section of media is hell bent upon inventing theories to back up their agenda of “fringe groups” and “cow vigilantism”. For them, facts are not sacrosanct. And Scroll appears to lead this pack. Read about this other journalist from Scroll, who loves inventing facts.

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