On 30th June 2019, in the very heart of Delhi, the ugly truth of ‘Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb’ was exposed. A strong Muslim mob proceeded to desecrate a temple in Hauz Qazi, break the idols, and allegedly, urinate in the temple. The fight apparently escalated from a fight over parking space. The Hindu community of the area says that the Hindu man, with whom the parking argument happened was thrashed and the women of his house were dragged and harassed too.
Amidst the palpable communal tension, the news of a 17-year-old Hindu boy going missing was painfully suppressed. When this correspondent reached Hauz Qazi on 2nd July, 3 days after the communal tension peaked in the area, the Hindu community in Hauz Qazi was terribly distressed. The mother of the missing boy sat in one corner clutching the FIR she had filed. The father wailed, threatening to commit suicide if his son was not found.
This correspondent spent the better part of the day in the area and reported the Hauz Qazi violence, the nuances of what the Hindu community was facing living in a tiny bylane surrounded by a Muslim dominated area and what the Muslim community claimed of the event.
The reportage of the missing boy, however, did not go down well with several sections of the media. NewsLaundry, a publication that has a history of whitewashing crimes against Hindus, published a report today that cast aspersions on the reportage of the missing boy. The article headlined “Media reports on a Muslim mob ‘abducting’ a boy turn out to be a dud”, the report, written by one Veena Nair questioned the motivation of OpIndia in reporting how the boy was ‘abducted’ when things were finally calm in Lal Kuan.
The report in NewsLaundry said that OpIndia had claimed that the boy had been abducted and that, the report turned out to be a dud as the boy had returned.
Further, in a terribly insensitive comment, NewsLaundry goes on to say that
Firstly, OpIndia did not ‘claim’ anything. This correspondent merely reported that details of the FIR without embellishments.
NewsLaundry admits that they visited Hauz Qazi on 3rd. In a communal situation, the reportage has to be sensitive to the evolving situation almost every hour. NewsLaundry’s claim that OpIndia reported the case of the missing boy “just when everything seemed to be under control” is idiotic. On 2nd itself, when this correspondent was on the ground, a fight between the Muslims and Hindus was just about averted. While the father of the missing boy was wailing, the Muslim community congregated and started chanting ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ and the already agitated and distraught Hindu community, started chanting Jai Shree Ram in response. The Laal Kuan lane was cordoned off for vehicles completely and there were several barricades along the way. The Muslim community, that is a majority in the area, stood in groups discussing nothing but this situation. The Hindus, behind a separate barricade, right at the mouth of the Durga Mandir Wali Gali where the temple was desecrated, protested in their own way.
Secondly, it is a fact that the boy was missing. Keshav Saxena was not to be seen by the parents, well into the third day of the communal tension. The boy was finally home on 3rd evening, on the 4th day. Even if NewsLaundry is right (which they aren’t) that the situation was limping back to normal in Hauz Qazi, was OpIndia supposed to ignore the case of a missing boy just like the rest of the media did?
The NewsLaundry article’s main purpose not only seems to mock the platforms that diligently reported the situation at Hauz Qazi but also, shameless, cast aspersions on the parents of the missing boy themselves. The report says, “The FIR clearly states the mob vandalised the temple and “abducted” the boy at 11.30 am. According to the police and eye-witnesses, the temple was vandalised after midnight. The boy says he left the lane of his own accord at 10.30 pm. None of the media platforms focused on these discrepancies”.
One has to remember the situation that the FIR was filed in. There was a strong mob of hundreds of Muslims baying for blood. They vandalised the temple, allegedly urinated there, broke idols and the local Hindus say that if the main shutter of the lane was not shut on time, the Hindus of the locality would have been found dead. Amidst this, a 17-year-old boy goes missing. The NewsLaundry report mentions discrepancy in the timing mentioned by the parents as a marker that the parents might have been either lying about the disappearance of the child or that portals like OpIndia did not bother to verify facts. The insinuation here also is that if OpIndia had focussed on the “facts”, it would not have reported the disappearance at all.
Now, it stands to reason that the parents did not have eyes on Keshav Saxena the entire day. He was not a toddler. Sometime during the communal tension, the parents realised that the child was missing and for a mother and a father, panicked for their lives and that of their child, the timeline, the exact timing is going to be least of their concerns.
The NewsLaundry report possibly uses the angst of the mother and her worry for her child as a tool to say that media should not have reported the disappearance at all.
Further, the NewsLaundry report itself mentions that Keshav Saxena was beaten up by Muslims that day itself. As OpIndia reported too, the boy said that some Muslim men started asking him whether he stayed in the Durga Mandir Gali and whether he was a Hindu. When he said he was a Hindu, he was thrashed. In fact, the NewsLaundry report also mentions that when the crowd started building up after the parking scuffle, some of the boys (presumably Muslims) beat Keshav up. It is at this point that he ran away.
According to the facts mentioned in the NewsLaundry report itself, his disappearance was certainly related to the communal tension in Hauz Qazi. When the mother filed the FIR, her assertion that his disappearance was related to the communal tension was not incorrect. But when a child goes missing amidst a bloodthirsty mob, NewsLaundry needs to ask itself what the obvious conclusion of a mother would be in the situation. That he ran away on his own? That he must be playing with his friends? Why would it not be normal for any parent to assume that the mob might have taken him away?
NewsLaundry shamelessly questions the mother of Keshav, Mona, and asks why she assumed that he had been kidnapped by a Muslim mob. What else was she supposed to say? Think? And that later, Keshav’s statement was different, was it the media’s job to not report the disappearance at all? How does the media use the return of the child to claim that his disappearance of the FIR thereof should not have been reported preemptively?
Let me ask a pertinent question here: If a mob of Hindu men had desecrated a Mosque and in that process, a Muslim couple had claimed that their child had been abducted by the mob and filed an FIR to the same effect, would the media shy away from reporting the FIR as is?
Interestingly, in a report that trashes OpIndia reporting an FIR about the missing Hindu child, NewsLaundry has no qualms reporting an FIR lodged by Muslim organisations, namely, All India Students’ Association (AISA), Aman Biradiri and Karwaan-e Mohabbat.
The NewsLaundry report says:
As a result, representatives from the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Aman Biradiri and Karwaan-e Mohabbat filed a complaint at Hauz Qazi police station against media houses spreading misinformation. The complaint specifically lists the Organiser report, accusing it of promoting “disharmony and feelings of enmity and ill-will between Hindus and Muslims”. The complaint mentions platforms like Times Now, Business Standard and Hindustan Times, stating they’ve “exaggerated” the number of people involved in the vandalising of the temple.
The complaint was submitted to DCP (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa, who assures them that everything is under control. “I don’t know about the communal angles, all I know is there is truth on one side and lies on the other. I am here to find out the truth, which we will,” he says.
Interestingly, according to NewsLaundry, therefore, reporting that an FIR has been lodged by the parents of missing Hindu child becomes “communal” and in the same report, then reporting some faff complaint that talks about over-exaggeration of the number of people who desecrated a temple become “reportage”?
The downright asininity of saying that a report that spoke of the temple desecration by a Muslim mob and presenting the version of the Hindus is “sowing disharmony between Hindus and Muslims” is staggering. A temple was desecrated. What harmony are we really talking about here? NewsLaundry, of course, doesn’t question this. They report it. Just like OpIndia reported the FIR and the wails of parents looking for their 17-year-old son.
Did NewsLaundry want this correspondent to walk away after watching this? What the parents were saying? The mother, the father? Was this correspondent supposed to shut her eyes like the rest of the “secular” media and ignored the cries of pain and loss? Was this correspondent supposed to walk off? Was this correspondent supposed to tell the mother that her FIR and her quest to find her boy is worthless because hey, “things are calm now” so let’s just forget it?
Here are the videos this correspondent captured of the wailing parents. These were captured while right there, journalists came and went. They made a face and ignored these parents crying for their son. The media cabal expected this correspondent to do the same and their angst today is that she didn’t.
Keshav’s version of events now itself raises several questions. Like, if his relative indeed did find him in some station on his way to Haridwar, is it even possible that the relative did not call the parents? Why was he at the railway station? Is there something which is being hushed up?
But that is an investigation for another day. The police will have to try and do their job honestly and investigate where the boy was for 2 days. But casting aspersions on media reporting the missing boy is just another ploy to ensure that crimes against Hindus stay hushed up. This correspondent and this portal will not oblige.