In an ideal world of media and reportage, all the crimes committed by individuals would be reported as it is, without any attempt to spin the issue. It is plentifully clear, though, that the Indian media does not operate in an ideal world and out of many, one of its crimes being its ability to “give a ‘Hindu spin’ to crimes committed by Muslims”.
As recently as last week, it was reported by leading media organisations like Mirror Now and DNA carried the following headlines – “Bengal tantrik ties up man, rapes his wife, claims he was helping a couple to conceive” and “Tantrik allegedly rapes client in front of tied husband, arrested“:
In a general parlance, the Tantrik – practitioner of the “tantra vidya“, is mainly associated with Hinduism, leading to a perception that the crime was committed by a Hindu individual.
This though wasn’t the case and the accused was incidentally named Rahmat Ali Sheikh who apart from raping the woman also stole her valuables. Besides this, the reports claimed that the Tantrik was based out of an “ashram” thereby further appropriating the crime to Hinduism. He was arrested as soon as a complaint was filed by the couple.
Here are some other instances where the media proceeded to focus on this particular angle:
- As per a Hindu report from April, a woman had accused a “tantrik” of raping her in Ajmer, after taking her their on the “pretext of offering prayers at a Dargah“.
- In the same month, Times of India had carried an article titled, “Tantrik gets 10 years in jail for rape and extortion”. Like the reports mentioned above, the name of the accused was “Warsi”.
Even vernacular media has been caught using the same tricks:
- Dainik Jagran for some reason decided to call an accused in a harassment case as “Tantrik Sufi baba” in the headline. He, in the content, was identified as later identified as Aftab.
- Hindi News18 in its article carried the headline, “Tantrik arrested for committing misdemeanour with a minor, under the pretext of chasing away ghosts”. The tantrik was later identified as Hafiz Sajid.
Incidentally, such a misinterpretation of crimes is not limited to Muslim accused. We had reported how India Today had introduced a Christian pastor as a “Kerala priest” while reporting about his demand for jeans and t-shirts girls to drown in the sea.