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The Hindu finally realises violent undertones of “Khela Hobe” after Muslims start getting killed in Bengal: How BJP lives did not matter to them

The TMC is in power for nearly 11 years. Before that, the Communists were in power for nearly 35 years. Why couldn’t The Hindu just bring itself to name these parties as the main cause for the violent culture of politics in West Bengal?

Every Saturday, The Hindu runs a full-page section called “Ground Zero”. Every week, a new issue gets a full-page analytical report, often coupled with proficient language to make the article sound impactful. Perhaps, for the first time since they rolled out this “Ground Zero” section, they discussed the same topic in consecutive weeks – the violence in the state of West Bengal.

The Hindu edits

Both the articles have a word count of over 5000 words. The first article wanted to focus exclusively on the death of one Communist “student activist”. The second article wanted to focus on the Bogtui village massacre in which 8 people were charred to death. While you would assume that the articles would detail the gory murders under the watchful eye of the beacon of peace and free speech, mysteriously though, The Hindu thought it absolutely fit to have a section titled – “Violence in Speech”! 

What The Hindu wrote

We are told that the TMC leader who coined the famous “Khela Hobe” slogan is known for “violent innuendos”. Now, you will begin to wonder why we were not told about this antecedent before the elections in May 2021 or at the same time when the slogan was coined and was being made popular. Because The Hindu was also hand-in-glove with Mamta Banerjee to popularize this violent slogan. Wait, did I say violent slogan? Technically I didn’t, because it is The Hindu which is now telling us that “In fact, the ‘ Khela Hobe’ slogan, is often used as a thinly veiled threat.” 

My mind immediately went back to the cartoon that The Hindu published, to support the “Khela Hobe” campaign of Mamta Banerjee. 

The Hindu cartoon during West Bengal elections

“Leg of God” it seems! Should we now assume that this not-so-thinly veiled reference to “Khela Hobe” by The Hindu was actually a call to endorse the violent methods of the ruling TMC? Or is it too difficult a question to answer? In fact, one can never forget how the whole English media went bombastic with the plastered leg of Mamta Banerjee and the “Khela Hobe” slogan – were they all complicit in encouraging violent methods of the TMC? 

The “Ground Zero” on March 16th was about “The death of a young student activist, who was critical of the Mamata Banerjee government, has sparked off massive protests in a State that is accustomed to political violence.” One can never get around to this constant commentary that the state is “accustomed to political violence”. The doyens of our English media are desperately seeking to normalize murder just because one of their icons is at the helm of the state.

According to the article, the student activist, Anish Khan was “popular among the Left students’ unions in Kolkata” and his murder has created “ripples in the state”. 100s of brutal killings of the BJP cadre are often sought to be normalized with the ludicrous comment that the state is “accustomed” to it, but the killing of the cadre of Communist parties suddenly creates “ripples in the state”! Strong adjectives like “massive” were used to describe the campaigns organized by the nearly defunct Communist parties.

In fact, the only other violent incident that The Hindu referred to in this nearly 3000-word article is yet another arrest of 16 “Left activists”! Reading the article felt that the political murders in the state are still happening between the TMC and the Left parties until you come to the section titled “The Muslims of West Bengal”. The Hindu innocently wonders the following: 

What The Hindu wrote

For the entire first half of the article, we are told about how brave a Communist, comrade Anish Khan was. And then suddenly his Muslim identity takes centre stage, and we now digress to the “social and political reality of Muslims in West Bengal”! In 5 paragraphs, we are told that though nothing changed in their economic conditions and yet they threw their weight behind Trinamool because “The 2021 Assembly polls were fought by the BJP on a strong Hindutva pitch”!

I, for one, was relieved after reading this statement because I was beginning to get worried why, nearly 2000 words into the article, the BJP was not yet blamed for this situation! In fact, the first 2000 words focused exclusively on the murder of one communist cadre. And then suddenly The Hindu chooses to brush all other murders into one bracket – “Opposition”. 

We are also told that “Anish’s death is shockingly similar to the death of Rizwanur Rehman, a 30-year-old computer graphics teacher in Kolkata, 15 years ago.” So, in the 15-year period in which massacres have happened; the murder of 100s of political cadre have happened; dissent was stifled mercilessly – The Hindu could yet again think of only the murder of another Muslim? 

With the editors now realizing that they have accomplished their main task of generalizing this with religion and blaming the BJP even though they had to digress, they come back to the issue at hand by now telling us about how “Anish’s death also highlights how anyone questioning established power structures is frowned upon, kept an eye on, and even attacked in the rural hinterlands.

The TMC is in power for nearly 11 years. Before that, the Communists were in power for nearly 35 years. Why couldn’t The Hindu just bring itself to name these parties as the main cause for the violent culture of politics in West Bengal? Why make this sound like the murders are an act of God in which Mamta Banerjee is merely a pawn executing the orders coming from above? 

The second “Ground Zero” report titled “Bengal’s violent politics of area domination” was a mere extension of these arguments. The premise of the article was the horrific massacre in Bogtui district where 8 people were charred to death. The Hindu innocently asks us “What makes West Bengal so susceptible to vendetta politics and deadly violence?”

After establishing the sequence of events that led to this massacre, The Hindu gives us another example of how a Congress councillor and a TMC councillor were also brutally murdered a few days back. In both the articles, that amounted to nearly 5000 words – not a single case of the murder of a BJP cadre was mentioned by The Hindu. We were told about the Communist cadre being murdered, the Congress cadre being murdered and even the TMC cadre being murdered, but not even a squeak on the murder of the BJP cadre. If I were not active on social media and my only source of Bengal violence was articles such as these from “Ground Zero”, I would simply believe that the poor Congress and Communist cadre along with cadre from other sundry opposition parties are being mercilessly killed in Bengal. 

Whenever a reference needed to be made for BJP, The Hindu faithfully generalizes it to the entire Opposition with sentences such as these – “when supporters of Opposition parties were targeted for weeks after the results of the 2021 Assembly polls on May 2 were declared.” And of course, faithfully doesn’t forget to insert the one line that is everyone’s favourite – “As the BJP raised a strong Hindutva pitch to capture the State, Bengal also began to witness communal violence.” Neither the context of any article nor the relevance of any topic matters to The Hindu when it comes to blaming the BJP. 

The essence of these 5000 words in The Hindu and these 50 words by known serial commentator Shekhar Gupta is the same – Bengal is known for being violent and therefore it is normal for BJP cadre to be killed. The essence of either 50 or 5000 words is that Mamta Banerjee is one of the best tyrants to have ruled in the landscape of political India. Every time a massacre or violent incident happens (that doesn’t involve the killing of BJP cadre of course), we are treated to editorials that tell us about the stifling of dissent and the violent nature of the TMC in West Bengal. Crass generalizations of violence and murder by terming them as “commonplace”, just to make Mamta Banerjee look good, have now become the norm in our English media. 

The TMC and Communists have ruled the state for nearly 45 years. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is responsible for “political violence becoming commonplace”. There are examples galore of Mamta Banerjee’s staggering intolerance towards dissent. Yet, we are also continuously bombarded with propaganda that despite being the antithesis of everything that a free society believes in (Free speech, Non-violence etc)  – Mamta Banerjee is the hope of this nation. Don’t believe me? See this snapshot of what The Hindu published in May 2021. 

What The Hindu wrote during West Bengal elections

It will really take a genius to decode this unlimited hypocrisy exhibited by newspapers like The Hindu where they normalize violence and murder as “commonplace” when it happens under the watch of leaders opposed to Modi. The blind hatred for Modi is that much real! 

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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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