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How Times of India and The Hindu turned ‘Haroon’, who posed as a priest, to a ‘Tantrik’ to secularise the crime

The Times of India has caught several times in the past by passing off such criminals as 'Tantrik' in an attempt to secularise the crime.

In yet another display of how media often shields the real perpetrators of heinous crimes, the Times of India on Thursday not only attempted to hide the religious identity of an accused but also give a Hindu spin to the crime by referring to him as a ‘Tantrik’.

On Thursday, the Delhi police arrested a person name Haroon alias Shahji Bangali for duping people by pretending to be a Hindu priest named Pandit Rahul Shastri. Haroon, a resident of Zakir Nagar in Meerut, had registered himself on Google and Truecaller app as Miyaji Shah Bangali under his fake name.

Reportedly, there were several cases of murder and riots filed against Haroon. His son named Arif was also involved in the frauds he committed. Haroon was nabbed by the police after a woman filed a complaint against him. The woman, who is a resident of Keshavpuram in Delhi, said that she had received a phone call from an unknown number and the person on the other side introduced himself as Pandit Rahul Shastri.

Times of India gives a Hindu spin to the case, calls the accused as ‘Tantrik’

The Times of India, in its attempt to ‘secularise’ the crime, passed off the accused as a ‘Tantrik’ by giving an impression to its readers that the crime was actually committed by a Hindu person.

In its report, the TOI claimed that the northwest district police arrested a person from Meerut who would pose as a ‘Tantrik’ to dupe people in Delhi. Even though the report carries the name of the accused as ‘Harun’ inside, Times of India in its misleading headline says arrested accused is a ‘Tantrik’.

Image Source: Times of India

Not just Times of India, even the left-wing publication ‘The Hindu’, which epitomises itself as the ‘liberal-secular’ media, also peddled the same propaganda by claiming that the arrested individual in the cheating case was a ‘Tantrik’.

Image Source: The Hindu

In general parlance, the ‘Tantrik’ is a practitioner of the “tantra vidya”, is mainly associated with Hinduism, leading to a perception that the crime was committed by a Hindu individual.

Times of India – repeat offender of ‘secularising’ crimes

In their desperation to shield Muslim perpetrators, media organisations often resort to chicanery by deliberately ignoring complete details and leaving out the identities of the criminals altogether if they belong to the Muslim community. However, of late, there have been concerted attempts made by many media outfits to not only conceal the names of Muslim perpetrators but also give them a Hindu spin to depict that the crime was committed by Hindus.

The Times of India has caught several times in the past by passing off such criminals as ‘Tantrik’ in an attempt to secularise the crime. In October, the TOI had attempted to give a Hindu spin to a crime perpetrated by an Islamic cleric, who is an accused in the sex racket, by referring to him as a ‘Tantrik’.

Similarly, Times Now, the news channel, owned and operated by The Times Group, had yet again tried to give a Hindu spin to a crime perpetrated by a Muslim. The crime took place under the influence of an occult practitioner, in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki area, but the news channel used the word ‘Tantrik’ for the occultist in the headline without specifying that the perpetrator is a Muslim.

In 2018, Time of India reported that in Maharashtra, a ‘godman’ forced his male devotees into ‘unnatural sex’. As per the report, one Asif Noori was the culprit, but TOI had tweeted the same report, using the image of a sketch of a sadhu to mislead its readers. In another case, TOI used the word ‘Swami’ and ‘baba’, other Hindus term, for a rapist who actually belonged to the Muslim community. Similarly, it had passed off a rape crime where the accused was one Rahmat Ali Sheikh to a ‘Tantrik’.

Desperation of ‘secular’ media to ‘Hinduise’ the crimes perpetrated by criminals of other faiths

Last year, several media organisations attributed the death of a 10-year-old boy because of the rituals performed by a Muslim healer to a ‘Tantrik’. While the death of the child occurred due to a Muslim healer, PTI report gave it an obvious Hindu slant in the headline by referring to him as a ‘Tantrik’.

India Today, in fact, went a step further and even used a rather ‘Hindu looking’ featured image for their story that appeared as if the ritual itself was Hindu.

As per a report in The Hindu, a woman had accused a “Tantrik” of raping her in Ajmer, after taking her there on the “pretext of offering prayers at a Dargah”.

Vancular media are also not far behind. Hindi-daily Dainik Jagran too had decided to call an accused in a harassment case as “Tantrik Sufi baba” in the headline. However, the perpetrator was identified as Aftab. In their article, Hindi News18 had carried the headline, “Tantrik arrested for committing misdemeanour with a minor, under the pretext of chasing away ghosts”. The ‘Tantrik’ was later identified as Hafiz Sajid.

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