Thursday, August 13, 2020
Home Opinions Dear Gautam Gambhir, just like in cricket, in politics, timing is everything

Dear Gautam Gambhir, just like in cricket, in politics, timing is everything

The fact that he condemned the incident is not contentious. He should have. Everyone should. But the fact that he used it to further a faulty narrative and also did not bother condemning the other incidents of violence and even cold-blooded murder is problematic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came back to power with a thumping, blinding majority begging 303 seats. And as soon as the verdict was out, the usual suspects started their blinding fear mongering. The ‘Minorities under threat’ narrative as a sweeping generalisation was back.

This narrative is not new. Since Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, minorities, as a general class of people, have been under constant “threat”. Just to further the narrative, several false cases were also reported, with the media firmly an active participant is furthering the narrative.

Just recently, India Times turned a simple case of road rage into an anti-Muslim hate crime.  The journalist reported that one Dr Narul was told that Muslims should leave India. It was not true. After an OpIndia fact-check, the headline and the story was changed by India Times.

On April 2, a law student named Umam Khanam had started a controversy after she had alleged that she was harassed by fellow students for being a Muslim during a college trip. That turned out to be false. In fact, fellow students described Umam as a Muslim fanatic with hate in her heart. 

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In 2016, Barun Kashyap, a creative director with a production house, had made headlines when he claimed that he was abused and threatened by some gau-rakshaks (cow protectors) after they mistook his bag as made of cow leather. This was a lie. He admitted that he made up this story because he hated Hindus. 

One can imagine why most people while condemning violence, don’t endorse the “minorities under threat” narrative. Just like the “Muslims under attack” narrative, the “Church attack” narrative was also a farce.

This line of propaganda that has been going on for over a decade, has raised its ugly head yet again after PM Modi, despite the best efforts of the Congress ecosystem was re-elected recently. The minority fear mongering started yet again.

Amidst this, news surfaced that a Muslim man was beaten up and made to allegedly chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ in Gurugram. The incident inspired widespread outrage, as it should have. The violence of any kind must be condemned unequivocally.

Gautam Gambhir, BJP’s winning candidate from East Delhi took to Twitter to condemn the incident too.

He tweeted, “In Gurugram Muslim man told to remove skullcap,chant Jai Shri Ram”.
It is deplorable. Exemplary action needed by Gurugram authorities. We are a secular nation where @Javedakhtarjadu writes “ओ पालन हारे, निर्गुण और न्यारे” & @RakeyshOmMehra gave us d song “अर्ज़ियाँ” in Delhi 6.

This tweet by Gambhir inspired widespread outrage from several quarters. While he was simply condemning a deplorable incident of violence and nobody should fault him for that, one must understand why Gambhir’s tweet did not go down well with several people who have been fighting the vilification of Hindus as violent, anti-Muslim “terrorists”.

Recently, several incidents of violence, even murders have been reported where BJP workers and leaders have lost their lives. After the people delivered their mandate, Smriti Irani’s close aide was brutally murdered in Amethi, a constituency where Smriti Irani defeated Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi in his own bastion.

BJP workers were also killed in Indore, Madhya Pradesh (where Congress is in power as the state government), and Barrackpore, West Bengal (where ruling TMC regularly indulges in political violence).

Let us move away from political violence, because the incident mentioned by Gambhir was not political in nature, as such. The Gurugram man Gambhir mentioned was beaten up, deplorably so. Just hours ago, three Muslim men shot dead children of the hosts because they were not invited for an Iftaar party.

Recently in another incidence, communal tension had erupted in Meerut after a video showing Muslim men beating up shopkeepers went viral.

There are several “hate trackers” which are dedicated to peddling the same agenda that Gambhir, unknowingly and in good conscience perhaps, peddled with his tweet. They further the ‘Muslims under attack” narrative while being extremely biased.

Abhishek Banerjee, a columnist with OpIndia, had written about how IndiaSpend have regularly indulged in peddling this narrative. They had earlier filed a report how 87 people had died in cow-related violence since 2010, of which 97% of the crimes happened after Modi came to power.

We had earlier reported how Hindustan Times had also launched a biased ‘hate tracker’ which had similar biased reporting and factual flaws. IndiaSpend’s ‘fact-checker’ website also launched a ‘tracker’ which tried to track ‘cow-related’ crimes‘. That data was also equally flawed and biased.

One Babu Khan was beaten up in a mosque for participating in the Kanwar Yatra. But it was not included in ‘hate tracker’ because the religion of the victim as well as perpetrators is Muslim. However, when a Dalit man was allegedly slapped and harassed for converting to Islam by Hindus, it is still a hate crime.

In January 2018, the severed head of one Palakuri Ramesh Goud was found on a flagpost near a mosque, in an area thickly populated by Muslims. His body was traced about a kilometre away. This does not get included in the ‘hate tracker’ because ‘police did not find any communal angle to crime’. However, when Junaid was killed over seat dispute in a train, it gets included in ‘hate crime’ despite the fact that the court had given a verdict that it was not a hate crime.

What does it say when a person of substantial standing like Gambhir tweets about one stray incident to further the “secularism under threat” narrative when all of these other incidents don’t find mention at all? Forget the incidents that happened in the past, the murders after PM Modi was re-elected on 23rd also have not found a mention on Gambhir’s Twitter timeline.

Gautam Gambhir then said that his definition of ‘secularism’ comes from PM Modi himself who said ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ and that he was not limiting himself just to this incident but violence in general. However, it is a fact that other recent incidents have not inspired the same reaction from him.

The ‘secular nation’ rhetoric falls flat when only violence against one group is outraged against and even murders, when not of Muslims, goes unnoticed. The cries for justice, become a little duller.

In politics, just like in cricket, timing is everything. Gambhir’s tweet using one stray incident to further the same fear-mongering that the Left-Liberals do does not bode well when the entire ecosystem is trying to peddle the same narrative based on nothing but conjecture. The fact that he condemned the incident is not contentious. He should have. Everyone should. But the fact that he used it to further a faulty narrative and also did not bother condemning the other incidents of violence and even cold-blooded murder is problematic.

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