The Hathras case has turned into a great political drama with the Congress party looking to use the tragedy as a platform to launch the career of Priyanka Gandhi and a pliant media has been compliant with their interests. The case, where mainstream media attention had peaked with fake claims of victim’s tongue being cut and eyes being gouged out, soon started toeing the lines of caste-polarisation as desired by Congress, Bhim Army and other groups seeking political relevance in a state ruled by BJP with an absolute majority.
After the post mortem and forensic reports ruled out rape or sexual assault on the victim, the video clips of initial statements of the victim and family had emerged, where there was no mention of rape. In the last few days, the UP government has unearthed a plot to stir violence and riots, funding routes and political exploitation of caste-faultlines in the area, where a large-scale riot was being fanned.
The media, which traditionally twists facts and narrative to suit political interests of the Congress party purports to demand justice of the victim, however, the truth being the seed of justice, when suppressed, can only lead to grave injustice. The Quint, in its attempt to further a narrative that was grossly misleading and help vested political interests, published a video on the 6th of October where they claimed to trace how ‘BJP leader and right-wing groups were supporting the Hathras rape accused’.
Towards the beginning of the video, Quint starts with a short clip of Pandit Pankaj Dhavraiya, national president of Rashtriya Savarn Parishad. The mere inclusion of this clip in this video means that The Quint is trying to insinuate that Dhavraiya supported the accused men in the Hathras incident and he did so because he is an “upper caste” and the accused are Thakurs.
When one looks at the full video, it was evident that Dhavraiya was talking about the petty politics being played by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad. It is no surprise that the narrative that The Quint has adopted is exactly the same that was peddled by various Islamists on Twitter, saying that this was the face of ‘Hindutva’ of the RSS and BJP.
While there is no evidence that the man in the video is connected to the BJP and RSS, the prevalent narrative seldom needs facts. Further, in the video itself, Dhavraiya was heard questioning Azad about his lack of faith in the SIT and other investigating agencies. He said Azad was playing petty politics and had no faith in the investigation. He later says ‘Aaja hum bharosa dilayenge, tera bhai aaya hai milne’ in an aggressive tone.
In a charged environment where the media and elements like Azad and Congress themselves have drawn battle lines based on caste, it is sadly the reality that both sides, who have forced to come face to face due to politics would take an aggressive stand, however, there is not one byte in the the entire video, where Dhavraiya was seen “supporting the accused rapists”. In fact, throughout the video that is publicly available, he is trusting the process of the law.
The Panchayat and its demands
To understand the intention of Dhavraiya, one has to also check another video of his that is viral on the internet.
हाथरस मामले में ठाकुर समाज की भी पंचायत हुई है. पंचायत में FSL रिपोर्ट का ज़िक्र करते हुए कहा गया कि रेप नहीं हुआ है, हमारे बच्चों को फंसाया जा रहा है. pic.twitter.com/MUkpK6RzOM— Ranvijay Singh (@ranvijaylive) October 3, 2020
In this video, the Thakur community in Uttar Pradesh was heard expressing their anguish over the arrest of the accused in the Hathras case while claiming that the accused are being falsely implicated in a rape case. The gathering was organised by the Savarna Samaj of more than two dozen villages and Dhavraiya is seen leading the panchayat.
“The FSL report says there was no rape but politicians and the media claim there was rape,” one of the voices can be heard saying. The apparent leader of the gathering says that an impartial investigation should be conducted and if any of the accused is found not-guilty, then they should be let off without bail. He also bemoans the fact that the reputation of the community has been tarnished.
The person also says that no one should create a nuisance and should not resort to any hooliganism. The person emphasised that no political party should come among them. He says that everyone has spat upon their kids and their community and their sentiments have been hurt because of it. “Only oppose the political parties, the rest will sort itself out,” he says.
The panchayat also affirmed their support for a Narco test. Dhavraiya was seen saying that they were ready for any kind of investigation and if the accused are guilty, they should be hanged. But if they are not, they should be released respectfully.
While the Dhavraiya believes that the accused are innocent, there is no clip of him or the Thakur community deriding the SC community, the family of the victim, the victim herself or even saying that regardless of facts, the accused were right. Demanding a fair probe cannot be seen as ‘supporting the accused’ in any manner.
Next, in the video, The Quint alleges that ‘Right wing groups’ along with ‘BJP leader’ supported the “Thakurs accused”.
What is essential to be noticed here that The Quint repeatedly calls the accused as “Thakur accused” to fan baseless caste sentiments in an already politicised case.
After pointing out how the number of accused change and the rape charge was only added later, the BJP leader in The Quint video says that they welcome the CBI inquiry. While he did allege that the rape charge is false, he also said that the CBI inquiry is welcomed.
How is asking for a fair probe the same as ‘supporting rapists’?
Further in the video, they targeted Dhavraiya all over again, playing an audio clip of him talking to The Quint. They alleged that he issued “open threats of violence”. In the audio clip itself, Dhavraiya says that it is Azad who is trying to instigate violence and they only want that he should not be allowed to divide the society on the lines of Savarna and Dalit. He further says that we should all live together happily and if there is an issue, there should be dialogue instead of instigation. On being probed further, he said that if he had to threaten, he has thousands of karyakartas and they could have beaten him up inside the village itself. He then says that they don’t want any sort of violence but politicians playing petty politics should be stopped and if they are not, there are chances of violence.
In the entire audio, the Hindu leader repeatedly says that he does not want violence but the petty politics of division should stop.
Nobody is truly sure how this amounts to supporting “Thakur rapists” or even issuing threats. One wonders if The Quint is of the opinion that Azad is beyond question and his petty politics of division is something to be supported?
Throughout the video, where The Quint spoke to “upper-caste protestors”, the underlying theme was the same – the guilty must be punished. The protestor also says that the forensic reports shows no evidence of rape and because of petty politics, the community is being called ‘atyaachari, duraachari’.
The Quint’s sinister design is evident when in the video, after talking to the protestor, they pull out a picture of him with Lord Ram in the image and a caption that read ‘Garv se Kaho Hum Hindu Hai’.
The sinister design is rather evident – after an incident of crime, it was the very media that created a “Thakur-Dalit” divide to brand an entire community as oppressive and criminal. Then, when that community gets agitated and talks about the branding of their community, owing to the fact that they belong to “upper caste”, the same media then extrapolates it to malign all Hindus, which would include Dalits. Essentially, the media used a Dalit victim to target the upper-castes, and then, used the entire incident to malign Hindus that would include Dalits.
The rhetoric that is being peddled by elite media like The Quint proves that they are far disconnected from the ground reality of villages. When a crime occurs, it is often that in the rural areas, the story is very different from what the media understands and often, the community comes together to demand a fair probe from the authorities after the prevalent narrative, either in the media or in the village itself, leads to the arrest of a certain accused. This phenomenon is not limited to “upper caste Hindus” as the Quint would want one to believe. There are several documented cases where Dalits themselves demanded the release of the accused and a fair probe to follow.
Earlier in September, Dalits sat on Dharna to protest against the arrest of a man named Lekhram Gautam, accused of raping and murdering a three-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district.
The Dalit villagers were demanding a CBI probe and had claimed that the accused is innocent.
Selective vilification of a community?
It is not uncommon for communities to demand a fair probe from authorities higher than local authorities and also, for communities to demand the freeing of the accused. The media, however, had picked up on Hathras selectively because it gives them the opportunity to divide Hindus and even target Hindus by using a Dalit family and a tragic incident. This is being done for petty political gains and to provide Priyanka Gandhi Vadra a launching pad for her parties failing electoral fortunes, as discussed earlier.
In fact, there are several cases where the Muslim community knowingly attacked the police to save the accused in cases of rape, murder and even cow-slaughter.
In May 2020, a violent mob has attacked a team of policemen in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district after they had visited the village to arrest an accused in an illegal cow slaughter case. In 2018, communal tension prevailed in parts of Jharkhand after beef was allegedly found despite a ban on cow slaughter in the state. As reported by Jagran, when the Police reached the spot to intervene, a mob even threw bombs on the police. As per reports, in Ranchi, a cow was being openly slaughtered. But before the police could stop it, the animal had already been killed. The police arrested on Bashir Ansari, but that led to a violent protest by the mob of villagers who gheraoed the police, pelted stones and even shouted pro-Pakistan slogans.
It is interesting that the media develops selective amnesia when it comes to cases where police were actually attacked because of mobs protesting the accused and calls Hindus demanding for a fair-probe as those “supporting Thakur accused”. Demanding a fair probe can, by no measure, be called support for rapists. One is to recall that the very same trope was also used in Kathua where they wanted to tarnish the Hindu community selectively and maliciously.
In the case of the Kathua rape and killing of a minor girl, the crime had happened in January 2018. There was no cries of ‘shielding’ and ‘protecting’ from the media or the opposition initially. The then PDP-BJP government had given the case to the Jammu and Kashmir crime branch and though there was earlier news of Hindus being targeted and forced to leave their villages, the government appeared to have completed the investigation and charge sheet was filed in April.
Suddenly on the day of the charge sheet filing, the media narrative took an unexpected turn. What was a grossly underreported case, grabbed headlines in print, broadcast and social media. The Jammu Bar Association had held a protest before the courtroom demanding CBI probe into the matter and they had also demanded action over the Rohingya settlement issue.
The popular narrative that was fed on national media was that the Lawyers of Jammu were ‘shielding’ the rapists of Kathua case and obstructing the filing of charge sheet. Soon, there was massive outrage and debates. Within no time, the issue was given communal colours and prominent intellectuals termed it ‘Hindu Nationalists shielding rapists of Muslim girl‘. Terms like ‘cow-vigilantism’, anti-muslim mindset etc were incorporated into the narrative too. All this due to the fact that the lawyers carried the national flag while holding protests over the Rohingya issue and demand of CBI enquiry in the Kathua rape case.
Essentially, the media that leans to the Left demands absolute and complete subjugation of the people in the cases that they choose to pick up for their own petty political gains. Any demand for a fair probe or inquiry is called a “shielding of the rapist”. On the other hand, in the Delhi Riots probe, the very media has actively shielded people like Tahir Hussain, Umar Khalid and the other accused despite overwhelming evidence against them because again, it suited their narrative.
For the media today, the maligning and tarnishing of Hindus is the only objective – the road they choose to take might be different, but the script they follow, to the last letter, is exactly the same – only repeated over and over again in an infinite loop.