The Indian Express today communalised a road rage incident in Dahej, Bharuch, by reporting that a Muslim youth was beaten up by five men upon identifying his religion.
The report stated that a man named Faizal was beaten up by a group of men ‘after they inquired about his name and out out his community in Bharuch on Saturday.’ The report quotes Faisal who mentions (and we quote verbatim from Indian Express report), “I left on my bike and after crossing around 100 metres, I saw five youths in a verbal duel with another youth who was travelling on bike. I did not pay attention and tried to pass through the side when the men, speaking local language, caught hold of me and asked my name. When I said my name, they asked which company I was working for. I gave the company’s address when three of them started slapping me. When I asked what was my fault, they replied with fists. Somehow I managed to escape from the spot as my bike was on. I hid myself at a distance and informed a colleague, Imtiyaz Shaikh, about the incident.”
Even in his statement to Indian Express, Faisal himself has not mentioned that he was beaten up because of his religious identity. As per Faisal’s statement to IE itself, the assailants had asked him his name and where he worked. Following which he was beaten up.
OpIndia called up Dahej Police station and confirmed that there was no communal angle in the incident. The police confirmed that it was a road rage incident and a complaint has been registered against unknown assailants. Faisal in his statement to the police has not mentioned that it was a hate crime.
The police is investigating the case. “Faisal was on his bike and some arguement happened with some other guys on a bike. He was beaten up. We are looking into the matter. Faisal did not know them and we have registered a complaint against unknown assailants. We can confirm there is no religious angle to this,” the Dahej Police confirmed with OpIndia.
It is shocking that the Indian Express tried to give a communal colour to a report on road rage. This is not the first time mainstream media has communalised incidents like these. Earlier in May, IndiaTimes, a Times of India group website, also gave a communal twist to a road rage incident in Gurugram. One Dr Narul in Gurugram was beaten up by a mob when he went to buy milk for Iftar. He had mentioned 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. However, IndiaTimes reproduced the story giving it a communal twist. The headline of IndiaTimes read 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.
Similarly, Indian Express just communalised a road rage incident and turned it into hate crime.