In an unfortunate incident of road rage, one Dr Narul in Gurugram was beaten up by a mob when he went to buy milk for Iftar. However, IndiaTimes.com, a Times Group website, decided to twist its own report and give it a communal angle and declare the road rage as hate crime.
On Tuesday, The Times of India, the flagship product of Times Group, reported a story that one Dr Narul had come to Ardee City at around 8 pm to buy milk in his Baleno car when two men got off from their Fortuner car and abused him. Dr Narul mentions that when he told them that they were coming from the wrong side of the road, the duo called up a few other men who then beat him up in what clearly appears a case of road rage.
He mentions that when he was being beaten up, he heard someone say that he (Dr Narul) is a Muslim and hence they (the men allegedly beating him up) should leave because this incident could lead to communal riots.
“They thrashed me brutally and I could not understand the reason. I heard two of them saying that I am a Muslim and they should leave otherwise riots will take place. They fled after leaving me on the road side. I don’t know any of them. I want strict action against the accused,” Nurul told TOI.
Following this, the attackers fled the scene. So in essence, the crime (assault) was stopped by the perpetrators when they realised the religion of the victim.
However, IndiaTimes, another Times Group website, reproduced this story by giving it a communal twist.
As seen above, the journalist twisted Dr Narul’s statement to a sister publication and gave it a communal twist. The headline reads that the mob thrashed Dr Narul while shouting “Muslims should leave”, while in fact, they fled the scene when they realised the person they were beating up was a Muslim.
What is unfortunate is that the story with communal angle has got more shares on social media than the story which originally reported the incident.
As can be seen, the original Times of India story which did not have any communal angle got fewer shares as compared to IndiaTimes story which went viral.
In fact, even readers pointed out the click-bait and misleading headline of IndiaTimes.
We have earlier written how crime stories turn into communal headlines after a few days. Giving a Muslim angle to a road rage spices up the story and helps build the narrative that ‘mob-lynching’ is the new normal.
The above story had all the elements. A Muslim man out to buy milk, for Iftar, gets beaten up and the word ‘Muslim’ is heard by him. So why let the opportunity pass by when there is a scope to help build the ‘mob lynch’ narrative? Media appears to be playing a very dangerous game. The same people who accuse others of communalising an incident, appear to do so in a very determined and devious way by twisting the facts.
The media could very well have been given the benefit of the doubt in this case, had it not been a habitual offender in this regard. They are either complicit in it by deliberately twisting facts such as in the case of a woman allegedly being beaten up to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, or careless to make headlines based on unsubstantiated claims as had happened in the case of a man who claimed attack by gau-rakshaks in Mumbai.