The media has often shown the propensity to shield the Muslim community. Often, the names of perpetrators are left out when the criminals belong to the Muslim community and in several instances, the crimes are given a ‘Hindu spin’ by the media. While now a 10-year-old boy has died due to the rituals performed by a Muslim healer who uses black magic for treatment in West Bengal’s Nadia district, the media has proceeded to give this incident a Hindu spin as well.
According to a complaint by one Arfina Bibi, her son Jan Nabi Sheikh died and six-year-old son Jahangir Sheikh is admitted to a hospital with serious injuries due to occult practice by Muslim healer Alpana Bibi of Kanthalberia village, an officer of Nakashipara police station said.
Arfina Bibi and Haladhar Sheikh had taken their sons to the Muslim healer for ‘treatment’ on 22nd September and now, one of her sons has died and one is admitted in the hospital.
When Arfina Bibi revisited Alpana Bibi on September 25, she found that her sons’ backs were burnt due to applying of hot oil, ghee and chilli powder on them, the officer said.
However, the media has proceeded to give this incident a Hindu spin by calling the Muslim healer who has now been arrested as a ‘Tantrik’.
In general parlance, the Tantrik – practitioner of the “tantra vidya“, is mainly associated with Hinduism, leading to a perception that the crime was committed by a Hindu individual.
While the death of the child occurred due to a Muslim healer, PTI report gives an obvious Hindu slant to the headline and calls the Muslim healer a ‘Tantrik’. This headline was then carried by several media houses verbatim without changes.
India Today, in fact, went a step further and even used a rather ‘Hindu looking’ featured image for their story that appeared as if the ritual itself was Hindu.
In the featured image used by India Today, one can see Sindoor, Kalawa and flowers, three ingredients which immediately give the impression of a Hindu ritual, especially, the presence of the Kalawa.
There are several times in the past that the media has resorted to such chicanery. As per a Hindu report, a woman had accused a “tantrik” of raping her in Ajmer, after taking her their on the “pretext of offering prayers at a Dargah“. In the same month, Times of India had carried an article titled, “Tantrik gets 10 years in jail for rape and extortion”. Like the reports mentioned above, the name of the accused was “Warsi”.
Even vernacular media has been caught using the same tricks. Dainik Jagran for some reason decided to call an accused in a harassment case as “Tantrik Sufi baba” in the headline. He, in the content, was identified as later identified as Aftab. Hindi News18 in its article carried the headline, “Tantrik arrested for committing misdemeanour with a minor, under the pretext of chasing away ghosts”. The tantrik was later identified as Hafiz Sajid.
Incidentally, such a misinterpretation of crimes is not limited to Muslim accused. We had reported how India Today had introduced a Christian pastor as a “Kerala priest” while reporting about his demand for jeans and t-shirts girls to drown in the sea.
Recently, we had seen The NewsMinute, an online news portal had used a Hindu ‘representational name’ for a Muslim man with four wives who had raped his own daughter.