Recently, the killing of an African-American man, George Floyd, by the Minneapolis personnel had stirred a furore across the world, especially the United States, where a raft of protesters in several cities, hit the streets in protest against the rampant racial discrimination that continues to plague the American society. The unfortunate death of Mr Floyd touched off protests not just in America but across the globe where demonstrators are staging protests either in solidarity with the victims of racial discrimination in the US or opposition to the perceived inequities faced by them in their respective countries.
While the world continues to roil with the death of Mr Floyd, Indian media organisations are drawing a dangerously false equivalence between the African- American’s killing by police officials with an incident from Rajasthan where a thug was beaten up by cops. A video of a scuffle between a thug and police officials in which one of the cops kneels on the neck of the ruffian is doing the rounds on the Internet. However, several media organisations in India quickly proceeded to equate the incident with the American instance where Mr Floyd was wantonly attacked by the Minneapolis police officers, leading to his death.
Times Now channel characterised the incident as ‘India’s George Floyd moment’, claiming that cops assaulted a man while kneeling on his neck.
ABP news channel also characterised the skirmish between the cops and the hoodlum as ‘George Floyd-like incident’ in India.
Several other organisations also likened the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd with the fight that erupted between the police officials in Jodhpur with a hooligan. Here’s the entire video of the incident.
The reality of the scuffle between the thug and the police officers in Jodhpur
The incident pertains to the city of Jodhpur where police cops found a named Somakaran sitting in a public place without a mask. With not wearing a mask in public places being punishable, the police officers accosted the man and tried to challan him for violating mask-wearing guidelines. However, the man refused to comply and assaulted the police officers instead, which can be seen in the videos that had gone viral. After being attacked by the thug, the police officers pinned Somakaran down and kneeled on his neck to bring him under control.
Stark difference between death of George Floyd and punitive action against thug Somakaran in Jodhpur
This event is in stark contrast to the killing of Mr Floyd in the United States. Mr Floyd had not employed violent means to fend off the police officials. Instead, as a law-abiding citizen, he meekly complied with the police directives and yet was subjected to assault, presumably on account of his race, leading to his death. America has a historical context to the racial crimes committed against the coloured population. George Floyd was a victim of institutional racial atrocity against the African-American community, perpetrated by the American police which has a long history of perpetuating brutality against the people of African American origins.
By contrast, the incident in Jodhpur was about police officials trying to restrain a wrongdoer who had not only violated the state-mandated guidelines amidst the coronavirus crisis but had also assaulted them when accosted for his defiance of norms. The cops did not intentionally launch an attack against the thug. They were compelled to employ harsh measures against the hooligan after he assaulted them. Besides, Mr Floyd’s death once again brought to the fore the racial fissures that continue to bedevil American society. On the other hand, India’s issues vastly differ from the racial tribulations that continue to beleaguer the United States. India has been a beacon of pluralism with no record of committing atrocities along the racial lines and it is disingenuous to compare stray incidents in India with the wanton and deliberate racial atrocities in America.
However, this nuance was lost on most of the Indian news organisations, who in their bid to sensationalise every issue, painted the disciplinary action against a thug by the police officials as “India’s George Floyd moment”. It appears that there is brewing desperation among some sections in the society to incite nationwide upheaval and throw the country into chaos.
Recently, Aakar Patel was seen egging on the minorities in India to stage US-like protests in India. A case was subsequently filed against him under the charges of provoking and instigating people from minority communities to foment unrest in India. Before that, Ashok Swain, ostensibly a professor, called for ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ protests in India along the lines of violent protests in the USA following the death of George Floyd.
The unwarranted likening of the murder of George Floyd with Indian police’s action against the thug could result in unintended consequences. The casual extrapolation of America’s racial woes to the Indian context could spell doom for the country which is already staggering under the economic and human toll of the coronavirus crisis. The anti-national lobby, harbouring deep-seated hatred for PM Modi, is on the prowl for issues that can be exploited to stoke anarchy and corner the Modi government. The news organisations are doing to a great disservice to the journalism profession and the country by drawing a false equivalence between Mr Floyd’s death and rightful action against the thug by Jodhpur police personnel.