Several media organisations today quoted the Indian Express report to allege that “two men affiliated to fringe Hindu outfits- Hindu Putra Sangathan and Hindu Samaj Sangathan” were responsible for the unfortunate death of one teenager, Amir Hanzla, during the anti-CAA protest organised by the RJD party on December 21, 2019, in Patna.
According to the reports, 6 men were arrested in Hanzla murder case. Nagesh Samrat (23) and Vikas Kumar (21) have been charged with the murder of Hanzla, who worked at a stitching unit in the Phulwari Sharif Area. The others arrested in the murder case are Deepak Mahto, Chhotu Mahto, Sanoj Mahto alias Dhelwa, and Rais Paswan, who have been described by police as “known criminals”.
The reports quoted police sources claiming that the victim Hanzla was brutally tortured before being killed using bricks and other blunt objects by the alleged perpetrators. The reports, published in Indian Express, Huffington Post, The Wire and News 18 insinuated that the Hindu organisations in Bihar are running amok and that Hanzla’s murder was an overt manifestation of their Hindu extremism. In addition, a concerted attempt was made by these publications to assert that the accused were bloodthirsty Hindu extremists who acted without any provocation against the “innocent” Tricolour flag wielding anti-CAA protestors.
The violence and Hanuman temple desecration that the media never mentioned
Interestingly, these media outlets, while reporting what the police said, hardly elaborate on the violence that had taken place during these “peaceful protests”.
These reports find no mention of murderous attacks by the mob during the Bandh called upon by the RJD party on Saturday, December 21, 2019. During the bandh, the rioters destroyed a Hanuman temple in Patna’s Phulwari Sharif area.
During the bandh, many RJD workers, armed with sticks and flags with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s face on it, vandalised autorickshaws. As per reports, anti-CAA rally was passing through the Tamtam Padao in Phulwari Sharif area and was on its way to Sangatpar. However, Sangatpar residents were not permitting them to enter. Police had also not given them permission to move ahead. The matter escalated and they resorted to violence.
Rafiqur Rahman, in-charge, Phulwari Sharif police station, told The Indian Express: “Our investigation shows that Amir Hanzla tried to leave the spot after police used force to disperse a violent mob. Amir was then held by some boys in the Sangat Gali area”.
However, the media houses chose to sweep this inconvenient reality under the rug as they conspicuously refrained from mentioning about the Hanuman temple vandalised in Phulwari Sharif by the rampaging mob during the anti-CAA protests carried out by the RJD party on December 21, 2019. The unfortunate murder of Amir Hanzla was treated as an isolated incident, having no connection with the vandalism of the Hanuman temple which may have stoked communal tempers in the region and triggered the escalation.
How the media described the radical outfit Tablighi Jamaat, to which Hanzla’s father belongs to
Furthermore, the reports also include bytes from slain Hanzla’s father to evoke sympathy among the readers. His father claimed that Hanzla was simply a part of the protest against the CAA and was carrying India’s flag in the protest march.
The reports described Tablighi Jamaat, the organisation Hanzla’s father-Sohail Ahmed was associated with as a “socio-cultural organisation”, perhaps to hide the radical nature of the group. Tablighi Jamaat is ostensibly a radical outfit with the avowed goal of spreading Islam across the world. However, the news organisations conveniently masked the reality of the organisation by representing it as a “socio-cultural organisation”.
A brief about Tablighi Jamaat
Tablighi Jamaat (a group of preachers), was started in 1926 in Mewat province by Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas. It was a several headed hydra which has its tentacles in several countries across the world. The secretive group is said to have anywhere between 12 million and 150 million adherents across the world and is an offshoot of the Deobandi movement.
The Middle East Forum writes:
“From its inception, the extremist attitudes that characterize Deobandism permeated Tablighi philosophy. Ilyas’s followers were intolerant of other Muslims and especially Shi’ites, let alone adherents of other faiths. Indeed, part of Ilyas’s impetus for founding Tablighi Jamaat was to counter the inroads being made by Hindu missionaries. They rejected modernity as antithetical to Islam, excluded women, and preached that Islam must subsume all other religions. The creed grew in importance after Pakistani military dictator Zia ul-Haq encouraged Deobandis to Islamize Pakistan”.
In France, as many as “80% per cent of the Islamist extremists have come from Tablighi ranks, prompting French intelligence officers to call Tablighi Jamaat the ‘antechamber of fundamentalism
Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person to be charged for the 9/11 bombings belonged to Tablighi Jamaat. In fact, Djamel Beghal, an Algerian-born Frenchman and admitted member of Al Qaeda who was convicted in 2005 of plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris was also a member of this organisation.
Other terrorist plots and attacks on civilians that members of Tablighi Jamaat have been connected with include the Portland Seven, the Lackawanna Six, the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, the 7/7 London bombings, the 2007 London car bombs, and 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack and several others.
In fact, it is speculated that the Jamaat has considerable influence on the Pakistan government. It is also speculated that Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer’s criticism of the growing influence of the Tablighi Jamaat of Pakistan on many players of the Pakistani cricket team could have contributed to his brutal murder.
It is this organisation, of which there are several other connections to extremism and terrorism that Indian media chose to brand as a “socio-cultural organisation”.
The murder of Amir Hanzla should be condemned in the strongest terms and his murderers should be subjected to the law of the land. But by deliberating withholding the entire details of the incident and the contextual background that may have led to his murder, the media organisations, with their ulterior aim of promoting their propaganda, are doing a great disservice to their readers. A dispassionate and entire account of such incidents should be presented before the readers. By deviously putting forth selective aspects of an incident, the media organisations are relegating themselves from “fourth pillar of the democracy” to a mere propaganda machine.