A mob of 2.5 lakh (some reports suggest a conservative figure of 30000) Muslims who had come together under the banner of Anjuman Ahle Sunnatul Jamat (ASJ),went berserk in Malda, West Bengal on Sunday, 3 January 2016. Kaliachak Police station, block development office and public property were vandalised, Several vehicles were set ablaze and over 30 persons including police officers were injured. The scenes were very similar to a similar congregation undertaken by Raza Academy in Mumbai which had lead to vandalisation of memorials, public property and attacks on the police.
But why? These 2.5 lakh muslims had come on the roads to protest for the exact same cause which had irked 1 lakh muslims in Muzzafarnagar: to protest against the remarks of self-proclaimed Hindu Mahasabha activist Kamlesh Tiwari’s remarks. Unfortunately, this protest was nowhere close to being peaceful as violence swept across the town.
According to reports besides attacking police stations, vehicles and cops, the Shani-temple, Durga Temple and other Hindu temples were also attacked at Baliadanga, a residential area behind the police station and other places. Around 25 Hindu houses and shops were also ransacked. A 22-year-old RSS activist Gopal Tiwari sustained a gunshot too. It took hours for police to bring the situation under control, after several shots of blank firing.
All this in West Bengal, whereas Tiwari’s actual statement was in UP. Also this violence erupted almost a month after Tiwari’s statement and much after he was arrested by the police.
Ordinarily such a huge incident would have grabbed national headlines as soon as it happened, case in point being the Dadri incident, whose scale was smaller (nevertheless being a very heinous crime), which captured the media’s attention as soon as it happened.
However Malda had no such luck as the first reports of such violence began trickling in to MSM as late as the 6th of January. And even now, the reporting was not as it should have been:
The headline of the piece on IBN-Live read:
Oddly, the headline has no mention of the group which went on a riot but does mention a BJP MLA who only went to visit the riot affected area as late as Wednesday i.e. 6th January. The news story starts with this incident and only later mentions the massive violence which took place there.
NDTV too chose to take a similar stance:
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 6, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsShowing extreme secularism, Times of India restrained itself from naming the community or the organization which was involved in the violence. But it had no qualms mentioning that the mob was protesting against the alleged blasphemous comments by a “right wing Hindutva leader ” or that a BJP delegation led by Shamik Bhattacharya was detained when he tried to visit the place.
The responses from our eminent journalists were even more shocking. Leading journalist Rajdeep Sardesai who had earlier attempted to justify the brutal murder of Prashant Poojary, could only talk about Malda while also raising Dadri, thus keeping his secular moral compass intact.
Condemn all violence, but don’t use Malda to rationalise Dadri. Isolate all extremists, Muslim or Hindu. https://t.co/ujR0yJ5vwz
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) January 6, 2016
The silence of the likes of Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose spoke louder than their words on Dadri.
Not only did the media report this serious news far too late, they reported it giving adequate spin so that the news was secular enough to be reported. Also we did not see a single Award returned, not a single interview by any actor/scientist/artist ascribing this mob riot to rising intolerance.
It is this duplicity of the alleged “seculars” which is the most damaging to India’s true secular fabric. Everytime they raise a voice again communalism and communal violence in India, it is always against the Hindu right. Such incidents of violence from the other side go unnoticed by them. Then how can they call themselves secular? And how do they expect people to give their views importance?
Such selective outrage against only those miscreants who do not subscribe to your ideology defeats the entire purpose. What we need today is to call out the Raza Academy in the same loud and shrill voice as we call out the Ram Sene.
The usual “Adarsh Liberal” outrage brigade which hangs by every word of certain miscreants, might feel they are doing a great service to the nation by standing up against such forces. But in reality, such selective biased attacks on only a section do great disservice to the cause of fight against moral policing and other transgressions on our freedom.
Edit: After this post was published, we were apprised of a blatant lie. As we mentioned above, a BJP MLA was arrested for attempting to visit the violence affected area. But Dainik Bhaskar has now published a false report that he was arrested in the matter of attack on the police station:
And in another case of media lies, CNN IBN claimed that Kamlesh Tiwari was a BJP leader. The truth is Kamlesh Tiwari claimed to be a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, not of the BJP, and even the Hindu Mahasabha denied that he was their member.