On 8th October, a Durga Puja Visarjan procession in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh came under attack by a strong Muslim mob. The mob attacked Hindus with bricks, stones, swords and sticks. Raghav Bahl’s The Quint is, however, ready to dance on the dead bodies of Hindus in an attempt to whitewash the Islamist attack on Durga visarjan.
The Quint report on Balrampur, headlined “Balrampur Puja Procession Violence Pre-Planned? Cops Deny Claims”, the report starts off with a shameless toning down of the entire incident. The Quint deemed it fit to describe the incident as “clashes between two groups”.
“As the 10-day Durga Puja festival came to an end with devotees across the country bidding farewell to Goddess Durga, an incident has come light from Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur district where clashes broke out between two groups during a Durga Puja procession”.
The emphases in the above paragraph are not mine. The Quint while reporting the Islamist attack in Balrampur thought it fit to emphasise and put in bold, the phrase ‘two groups’ as if to ensure the reader doesn’t miss the fact that they have deliberately tried to gloss over the fact that a Muslim mob went on a rampage against Hindus, almost like the Nazis denied the Holocaust ever happened.
Even traditionally ‘secular’ media portals like Times of India and Indian Express reported that it was a mob that pelted stones at the visarjan procession in Balrampur. While Indian Express chose to whitewash the crime in their own way, by increasingly harping on how reportedly, the stone-pelting happened because while crossing the mosque, Hindus did not switch the music off, it still did mention the mosque and the fact that it was a mob that pelted stones. The Quint, however, chose to downplay the entire siege in Balrampur by calling it a ‘clash between two groups’. This, when there is no evidence that the Hindus instigated or participated in any form of violence whatsoever.
Further, the aim of the Quint article was not to bring about the details of the horrific incident itself or ask pertinent questions like why a peaceful procession came under siege by a Muslim mob, but to “fact-check” OpIndia which had first reported that the Additional Superintendent of Police had categorically hinted that the attack was pre-planned.
On 9th October 2019, a day after the procession came under attack, OpIndia reached out to the Additional SP (ASP) of Balrampur to get a better sense of what transpired in the area. The ASP categorically told OpIndia that the procession came under attack when it was crossing the Mosque and that they might have pre-planned the attack. The ASP’s exact words were, “Pehele se hi prepared the or whatever it is”.
The Balrampur police’s Twitter handle, which is presumably run by some PR agency and not the police itself quoted a tweet by Swarajya journalist Swati Goel Sharma who had plugged the OpIndia article and denied that the ASP had ever made the statement. To this, OpIndia editor and the correspondent who reported the crime, Nupur Sharma responded saying that OpIndia is the possession of the recorded conversation where the ASP has categorically hinted that the entire siege could have been pre-planned.
In response to this, since the PR agency was hell-bent on brazening out their lie, OpIndia uploaded the audio of the conversation between Nupur Sharma and the ASP.
Here is full audio of my conversation with Additional SP of Balrampur. I did not want to make this public because I have deep respect for the police force, however, I cannot let a PR agency get away with lying repeatedly. Listen to what ASP says at 3:15https://t.co/Bk9qF1mGq2
— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) October 9, 2019
After the audio of the conversation was made public, Balrampur police Twitter handle quietly deleted the tweet where they had denied the comment being made by the ASP. As one can see from the screenshot below, the tweet by the police handle to which Nupur Sharma responded has been deleted.
There were other tweets too that the Balrampur police’s Twitter handle silently deleted. It had also quoted the Twitter handle of OpIndia Hindi and made the same statement. A couple of other tweets making the same statement against the OpIndia report were also deleted by Balrampur police Twitter handle.
Under these circumstances, it becomes evident that the PR agency that handles the Twitter handle was unaware of the fact that the ASP had made this statement to OpIndia. Perhaps, their brief was to stick to the video of the official police statement and deny all other details. However, the audiotape released by OpIndia and the fact that Balrampur police’s Twitter handle deleted their accusations proves that the ASP had indeed made that statement to OpIndia.
Raghav Bahl’s The Quint, however, had different plans. Before this entire fiasco, it is pertinent to note that The Quint had not even covered the crime at all. It did not think it was necessary to cover how a Muslim mob went on a rampage against Hindus. Interestingly, this was an ANI feed that is often copy-pasted and run as-is by all news portals. This particular news, though, was censored by most summarily and deliberately. Quint, which even publishes Kerala lottery news thought it best to ignore the news of Hindus coming under siege.
Either way, The Quint, after declaring that this was a ‘clash between two groups’, went on to claim that OpIndia was spreading fake news and that the Additional SP never said that the siege may have been pre-planned. This assertion was made long after the audio of the conversation had already been released and Balrampur police had deleted several tweets that contested the OpIndia report.
In the article, after falsely claiming that the SP had never made such a statement despite the audio of the conversation being out, The Quint writes:
“Further Balrampur police took to Twitter to clarify that the police is taking all the necessary steps to ensure law and order”.
Interestingly, there was nothing to “clarify” here. The news that 8 people had been arrested and that the police claims it has deployed 4 units to track down the absconding accused was reported by OpIndia. We had also reported that the police says the law and order situation is normal in the area with heavy police presence. In fact, OpIndia had also done aa comprehensive story of an eye witness account, where an injured Hindu also said that the Balrampur police is doing its job diligently. This word-chicanery by Quint only aims to sow seeds to doubt and discord, not bring facts to the fore.
After vilifying OpIndi, The Quint absolutely had to vilify the Hindus too.
In the concluding paragraph of The Quint report, the portal writes:
“We also spoke to a local journalist who said that the clashes broke out between the two sections when the procession allegedly didn’t stop the loud music and splashed colours while crossing the mosque. But it remains unclear as to who instigated the violence”.
The police and the supposed local journalist have claimed that the Muslim mob may have gone on a rampage after the music was not stopped while the procession crossed the mosque. Interestingly, the ASP, while confirming the music angle had not said anything about the gulaal that was apparently splashed by Hindus.
The eye-witness account by a Hindu man who was allegedly attacked with a sword and injured, though, contests this claim. Suraj Pandey says that every year, the procession passes from the same route and there has never been a problem between the Hindus and the Muslims. Every year, the Hindus on their own switch the music off while crossing the Mosque, however, this time, the Hindus did not even have the opportunity to switch the music off. Suraj says that they have set up a divider and when they reach the divider, they switch the music off and then resume when they turn the corner. This time, even before they could do that, the Muslim community first threw garbage at the Hindus and then, within minutes, started attacking them with stones, sticks and swords.
Suraj also narrates an incident that hints at pre-planning. He says that on 8th morning, he was passing through the lane and one Zulfikar threw a stone at him from his house. While the incident was let go off after Zulfikar’s old mother pleaded with Suraj, he considers this as an indication that the Muslims of the area had planned the siege meticulously.
These details of the Islamist attack in Balrampur, though out and reported extensively by OpIndia, were not even mentioned by The Quint.
The Quint doesn’t stop there and proceeds to whitewash the crime further. In the end, they declare that ‘it remains unclear as to who instigated the violence’.
Sample this – Hindus of the area took out a Durga Puja visarjan procession that they do every year in Balrampur. There was no deviation from the route and supposedly, there is no evidence yet to suggest that the Hindus did anything differently this year. Yet, the Muslim mob evidently pre-planned a siege against the Hindus. The procession was attacked with stones, bolsters, sticks and swords. Suraj himself claims that he was injured by a sword attack. There were women, children and “Mullahs from Mosques” attacking Hindus from all corners, who hid for their lives. The only fault of the Hindus appears to be that they wanted to celebrate their festival like they do every year. Or perhaps, their only fault was that they were Hindus, to begin with.
After all these facts are on the public domain, Raghav Bahl’s The Quint proclaims that it is unclear who instigated the violence in Balrampur. Bahl’s portal almost declares that even if we consider the ‘music and gulaal’ argument to be true, that is reason enough for Hindus to be attacked with stones and swords. Them being Hindus and daring to celebrate their festivals in an area that happens to have a Mosque is reason enough for the blood of Hindus to be shed. Hindu lives are that cheap. Hindus are just that dispensable according to The Quint.
The Quint’s grouse seems to be that the lynching of Hindus with stones and swords was called ‘pre-planned’ by Opindia. Let us assume for a moment that OpIndia had not made that claim at all. That we had not quoted the ASP or had the conversation recorded. Can The Quint perhaps explain how a strong mob of Muslims in Balrampur gather thousands of stones to attack Hindus spontaneously? Can The Quint explain how hundreds of stones reached the rooftops of Muslim houses spontaneously and in the spur of the moment? Is The Quint implying that Muslims are always battle-ready? Because if they are, they are not only dancing on the dead bodies of Hindus but are also bigoted towards Muslims in general.
These questions would, of course, never be answered by The Quint that has a history of shielding the Muslim community. In fact, this The Quint report on Balrampur seems trivial compared to their whitewashing of Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist-in-chief who was killed by American forces.
The ‘Liberal’ media often brazenly and rather shamelessly whitewashes Islamist crimes against Hindus. Most of these crimes are never reported by them to begin with. If they are, they are reported with an attempt to pacify the Islamists and demonise the Hindu victims all in one stroke, like The Quint seems to have done here, even if they have to take the help of blatant lies and half-truths.
During the Hauz Qazi violence, where a Muslim mob had desecrated a temple in a tiny bylane of Chandni Chowk in the heart of Delhi, OpIndia had reported how in the communal flare-up, a young Hindu boy was missing for 3 days. When OpIndia had visited the area, the parents of the boy were clutching on to the FIR they had filed and wailing in the middle of the road. They were even threatening to commit suicide. They argued with the police at length. This was all on camera. None of the Lutyens media bothered to report the disappearance of the Hindu boy. The parents were initially convinced that their boy was kidnapped by the Muslim mob who had attacked the Hindus. When the boy was later found, NewsLaundry published a report questioning OpIndia, Swarajya mag and Organiser. They asked us why we reported the Hindu boy missing at all because ‘he was found alive’. It was almost as if NewsLaundry was claiming that crimes against Hindus must be reported only after the Hindu turns up dead. There was an FIR and Lutyens media wanted us to not report it because it inconvenienced the Muslims.
In all of these cases, one wonders how NewsLaundry or even The Quint would report if the tables were reversed. How would they report had Hindus been the aggressors and Muslims the victims? Would The Quint write this shoddy report downplaying the Balrampur siege? Would NewsLaundry not report an FIR that claimed a Muslim boy was missing after Hindus attacked a Mosque?
The media essentially likes to dance on the dead body of Hindus. They regularly bake their pie on the funeral pyres of hapless Hindu victims who have been abandoned by the very institution that should be speaking up for victims. All to shield one community. One people. Hindus are children of lesser Gods who should walk on egg-shells around the ‘superior race’. Celebrate their festivals in silence, side-step Mosques, appease Muslims, offer the other cheek, be willing to be vilified, demonised, shut down, beaten, attacked with swords, pelted with stones, and then, be called the aggressors.
This is what The Quint facilitated with its report on Balrampur:
“Looks to be the fault of those who were involved in Visarjan and did not follow protocol”.
Yes. Hindus must follow ‘protocol’. That they were pelted with stones and attacked with swords is their fault. The poor Muslim was bound to get offended, as it does, ever so often. There is still no surety who instigated the violence, but, the Muslims must have had a reason to kill those fascist Hindus daring to celebrate their festival.
Congratulations, Quint. You have made Raghav Bahl proud.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017