Top Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo was eliminated by the Indian Armed Forces on Wednesday in Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Riyaz Naikoo, who was leading the banned Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir valley, had been trapped in the operation in Beighbora village of Pulwama district earlier in the day. Naikoo, along with two other terrorists were gunned down by the security forces in an encounter. The dead Hizbul terrorist was quite active in the valley and responsible for various abductions and recruitment of fresh blood to the Hizbul Mujahideen over the years.
However, the death of one of the most prominent terrorists active in the Valley has provided a fresh opportunity for the propaganda peddlers to understate the menace of terrorism in Kashmir and demonise the Indian state and its Armed Forces. Propagandists have started singing dirges for the slain terrorist and are providing disingenuous accounts of how the terrorist was pushed into “extremism” by the Indian state, thereby whitewashing his terror activities and elevating him to the “martyr status”.
Besides, eulogising articles that serve to humanise the terrorist and extenuate him of his crimes are being published. This is a part of a vile agenda that seeks to legitimise the Kashmir struggle and undermine India’s claim to the Himalayan state. Perhaps, media organisations will now even interview the family members of Naikoo to mitigate his terror status, provide ‘reasonable’ justification for his acts of terror and pin the blame on the Indian government’s policies for him to embrace terrorism.
As the news of the death of Hizbul chief Riyaz Naikoo trickled in, some news organisations fell over themselves to shield the terrorists and provide a humanising account of past life. To this end, the Indian Express proceeded to brush aside terror activities by Naikoo by exalting him to the status of a scholar who had a degree in mathematics, as if it is too elusive to acquire one. The Indian Express goes on to minimise his role as a terror perpetrator by characterising him as someone who was a “popular teacher among students”.
‘The Wire’ which is known for leaning towards Islamists, also couldn’t bring itself to describe Riyaz Naikoo as a terrorist. In an article published on ‘The Wire’ detailing Naikoo’s encounter by the Security Forces, there was not a single instance in the entire report where the it referred to Naikoo as a terrorist.
In fact, long before Riyaz Naikoo was neutralised by the Indian Armed Forces, attempts to humanise the dreaded terrorist were already in the offing. A Huffington Post article published in 2018 described Hizbul Commander Riyaz Naikoo as someone who has gone from “Being a Math teacher to Hizbul Mujahideen’s Chief”.
It is imperative to note here that the premise of the article is not based on the terror proclivities of Riyaz Naikoo but it is on how he had once been a Math teacher and ‘circumstances’ prodded him into adopting terrorism and becoming Hizbul’s chief. However, such extraneous details are often reported, highlighted and glorified by the media organisations so that the hideous details of one’s unabashed involvement in terror activities can be concealed and anodyne facets of their lives can be foregrounded.
Media glorified Zakir Musa as someone who loved gels, deodorants
Last year, after the jihadi terrorist head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, Zakir Musa was killed by the Armed Forces, there were some media outlets who tried to whitewash his crimes and humanised him. In a report published by News 18 on the slain terrorist Musa, prosaic information about him was used to project as if he was a rock star or movie actor. The report highlighted inconsequential information like how Musa’s father Abdul Rasheed Bhat, an engineer by profession, had received a packet containing an iPhone, iPod, and three debit cards in 2013. Zakir Musa’s decision to become an armed terrorist has been represented in the report as a father’s sorrow of his son ‘sacrificing’ luxury.
The report goes on to quote the terrorist’s friends saying how Musa loved hair gels, expensive deodorants, new clothes and shoes.
The report also attempts to find the ‘trigger’ that ‘made’ the so-called “Young boy who loved sports bikes and cigarettes” join terrorists. In Musa’s case, the report says it was probably because of the incident when he was ‘slapped by a policeman’ and falsely accused of stone-pelting.
Burhan Wani- A headmaster’s son
Perhaps, the most brazen attempt to whitewash the crimes committed by a terrorist was done by none other than ‘illustrious journalist’ Barkha Dutt. Soon after Burhan Wani, then Hizbul Commander in Kashmir was neutralised by the Armed Forces in an encounter in 2016, Dutt lost no time in putting out a tweet describing Wani as a “headmaster’s son” instead of calling him simply what he was- a wretched terrorist.
Breaking: Burhan Wani hizbul commander, son of school headmaster who used social media as weapon of war, killed in Anantag. BIG STORY— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 8, 2016
The murderous Islamist tendencies exhibited by Wani held no significance but his father’s profession as a headmaster of a school was considered as an important nugget of information to be used to characterise him. This is a classic case of how Indian journalists provide fodder to Pakistan and separatists based in Jammu and Kashmir. Once the terrorist is described in humanising terms, all his egregious sins perpetrated by him are whitewashed while the Armed Forces and the state that ordered his elimination are subject to incessant vitriol for killing “a headmaster’s son”.
Adil Dhar became terrorist after beaten by troops
In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, several of the mainstream media organisations proceeded to rationalise the dastardly act of Adil Dhar, the terrorist who rammed an explosive-laden car into one of the vehicles of the CRPF convoy, killing 40 CRPF personnel.
Dhar’s parents were interviewed by many mainstream media channels where they were seen diminishing their son’s terror act. India Today organisation interviewed Dhar’s parents who reasoned that his son became a terrorist after Armed troops beat him up while he was returning from his school. Very cunningly, Dhar’s parents pass the buck on the Security Forces by asserting that their son chose the path of terrorism only because he was thrashed by the Armed Forces, which again is an unsubstantiated claim.
The Hindustan Times also carried the interview, solidifying the attempts made to humanise Dhar and provide a justification to the monstrous act perpetrated by him. The HT too published the parents’ version of their son’s humiliating encounter with the Army which pushed him into joining Jaish-e-Muhammad.
This is a typical modus operandi adopted by the cabal which rushes to sweep under the carpet the sins committed by the slain terrorists. Their approach entails highlighting trivial and mundane details about the terrorists such as their characteristic traits, areas of interest, family background, educational qualifications etc. to generate a wave of sympathy among the readers for the dead terrorists. The terror apologists use these details in their articles and writings to brand the aggressors as victims of perceived state repression and recount incident that served as a “trigger” for them to adopt “militancy”, a euphemistic term used to describe terrorism.