The Times Group is a rather amusing media group in the sense that it caters to people from both sides of the political spectrum through different channels. It owns Times Now with its overt ‘nationalist’ slant and Mirror Now with explicitly leftist tendencies.
One issue, however, where both these channels were on the same side was the Sabarimala verdict. They unanimously supported the desecration of the abode of Bhagwan Ayyappa.
Should the temple apartheid end?
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) July 18, 2018
.@fayedsouza: As of today, the law of land was defeated, the holy book of constitution & the word of Supreme Court was disrespected and the #Kerala govt failed us!#SabarimalaRow #SabarimalaFaceOff #Sabarimala #SabarimalaShowdown #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/PSRodlMqNN
— Mirror Now (@MirrorNow) October 17, 2018
However, Times Group appears to have an extremely contrasting opinion when it comes to Islam. The Kochi edition of its newspaper, Times of India, published an article with effusive praise for the religion with the headline “Convert to Islam“.
In the article, the author K.E.N. Kunjahammad writes, “Fraternity among human beings and equality before God form the basis of Islam. In his final sermon, Prophet Muhammad categorically dismissed racial supremacy when he said that “all mankind is from Adam, and an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab over an Arab … except by piety and good actions.””
He further states, “The idea of justice ingrained in Islam motivated liberation struggles all over the world. Much before Guru’s emergence, Islam had provided energy for many subaltern movements in Kerala. It was Islam that propelled Tipu Sultan’s revolutionary intervention in agrarian relations in Kerala which had a lasting impact in the social life of Malabar.”
The Times Group’s stance on Islam appears to be markedly different from its opinions on the traditions of the Hindu Sabarimala Temple. The article, in fact, comes across as da’wah or the Islamic practice of inviting non-Muslims and Muslims to understand the teaching of Islam and inform them about prophet Muhammad and convert them to a ‘purer faith’.
The article also heaps praises on religious conversions. It says, “The possibility of conversion also offers bargaining power for the oppressed class. The concept of Ummah or universal brotherhood is a potential concept in Islam that could have broken all artificial divisions among human beings.”
Participating in da’wah while actively supporting the desecration of a Hindu Temple appears to be extremely communal propaganda on part of the Times Group.
Times of India has repeatedly displayed a bias against Hinduism. The Times of India reported that in Maharashtra, a ‘godman’ forced his male devotees into ‘unnatural sex’. As per the report, one Asif Noori, a 38-year-old self-styled godman was arrested in Buldhana district in Maharashtra days after video and audio clips of allegedly forcing male devotees into unnatural sex went viral on social media. However, the newspaper, while tweeting the same report, used a misleading image to report the crime. The image of a sketch of a sadhu was used for a crime where the accused is a Muslim.
On another occasion, Vivek Agnihotri was approached for an interview by Times of India but for some reason, the interview was never published. Agnihotri says he never got a forthcoming answer and he was just told it was against ‘policies’ of Times of India, which he found rather strange. Agnihotri, the author cum filmmaker has been vocal about the Urban Naxal phenomena that have come to the fore recently. In his book, Urban Naxals, Vivek talks extensively about how the Naxals have an entire urban network that often goes unnoticed because they are disguised as activists, lawyers, etc.