After sharing an incomplete video of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and letting loose bloodthirsty mobs of Islamists against her, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair seems to have taken the task of downplaying the ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ slogans that have a symbol of threats and intimidation accompanying the Islamists protests that roiled in the country in the last few months.
Recently, Zubair, who preens on being a “fact-checker” but has studiously refrained from “fact-checking” assertions made by Nupur Sharma on Prophet Muhammad that he used to instigate Islamists, took to Twitter to publish an inordinately long thread making light of the ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ slogans—the Islamist outcry used to threaten and intimidate people perceived of committing blasphemy.
The Twitter thread by Zubair was in response to the revelation made in the case of Nishant Kumar Azad, who had earlier this month filed a complaint with the police stating that he has received ’Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats for supporting Hindutva and criticising Islamists. In a press release, the police said that they had arrested one Pranpriya Vats, an acquaintance of Nishant, who had sent the threatening message to the latter to harass and intimidate him.
On September 10, Nishant Kumar Azad, a journalist working with Nationalist weekly magazine Organiser received death threats from a US-based phone number. In the threat message, it was written that Nishant Azad would be beheaded if he continues to support the Hindutva ideology. He was threatened to stop spreading ‘propaganda’ against Islam otherwise ‘he will have to pay the price for it’.
No sooner did the police reveal the threat issuer was “Pranpriya Vats’, a non-Muslim as his name suggests, than Mohammed Zubair, ever prowling for an opportunity to whitewash Islamists, sprung into action to publish a Twitter thread that sought to downplay ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats dished out in the name of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
Even as he remains silent on blasphemy killings, Zubair launches a propaganda blitzkrieg to water down ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats
An integral part of Zubair’s digital strategy to gain credibility is to deviously attack other media organisations and project himself as the “sane” voice among a cacophony of news channels he accuses promote hatred. So as a part of this strategy, Zubair shared old video reports of several news channels that covered the “Sar Tan Se Juda” threat received by the Organiser journalist to insinuate that they were prejudiced in their reportage.
Zubair, who had refrained from unambiguously condemning blasphemy threats and has conveniently remained mum on occasions when Muslims issued ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats, including those that led to the death of Hindus such as Kanhaiya Lal, lest it would spotlight his role in inciting them in the first place, demonstrated unmatched alacrity in posting a long Twitter thread on “Sar Tan Se Juda” threat received by Nishant, perhaps because the accused was a non-Muslim.
In the end, Zubair also replugged an earlier incident when a doctor had claimed that he had received a ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threat but later police found out that he had himself messaged to his mobile to gain popularity.
The fact that the accused in Nishant’s case was a non-Muslim provided enough grounds for Zubair to bolster his narrative that Islamists are wrongly targeted for issuing ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats and to insinuate that Islamists are being maligned by non-Muslims with the use of ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats.
How Alt News and Zubair gaslight and manipulate their readers
This is classic gaslighting that Alt News and its writers are notorious for. They have a history of whitewashing Islamists and painting them as the victims of media stereotyping. During the COVID-19 outbreak, when a Muslim vegetable vendor’s video applying saliva to his produce had gone viral, Alt News carried out a fact check saying the video was old as if it was an acceptable social norm to spit on vegetables and fruits a couple of months before COVID-19 hit India. Here too, Zubair seeks to undermine the threat of ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ by focusing on how non-Muslims are involved in issuing threats.
‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ chants and threats have become an instrument to terrorise opponents and squelch dissent. Regardless of who uses it—Muslims or non-Muslims—the fact that miscreants are leaning on it to instil fear and intimidation speaks to the perils wrought by the Islamist slogan that has so far claimed many Hindu lives, including that of Kanhaiya Lal, Umesh Kolhe, and others. However, as the accused in Nishant’s case turns out to be a non-Muslim, Zubair has proceeded to mount a propaganda blitzkreig that affords protection to the Islamists while watering down the threat posed by the slogan.
Just because Nishant’s threatener was not a Muslim does not cancel the pervasive menace of ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ threats that plagues the society. Kanhaiya Lal, a Hindu tailor by profession, was killed for supporting Nupur Sharma. Umesh Kolhe, another Hindu man from Amravati, was murdered by Islamists because they believed he blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad by supporting Sharma.
Mohammed Zubair provides cover fire to Islamists chanting ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ slogans over blasphemy
“Gustakh-e-Rasool ki Ek hi saza, sar tan se Juda, sar tan se Juda”, which translates to “There is only one punishment for being disrespectful to Rasool (Prophet Muhammad), their head separated from their torso, their head separated from the torso”, an Islamist clarion call, had become a staple feature of violent protests that erupted in the wake of Zubair’s dog whistling against Nupur Sharma.
From Kanpur in India’s northern plains to the southern metropolis of Bengaluru, from Kolkata in the east to Hyderabad in Deccan, protests in the name of blasphemy erupted in almost every corner of the country as Islamists took to the streets running amok and shouting “Sar Tan Se Juda” chants over the perceived belief of blasphemy against the Prophet.
At least 6 Hindus are reportedly killed in the name of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. But Alt News and Mohammed Zubair have neither published a fact-check on whether Nupur committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad nor have they made their position clear on whether blasphemy should be punishable by death. Instead, they have leaned on stray incidents as the Nishant’s case to provide intellectual cover fire for their rampaging Islamist brethren whose bloodlust only seemed to be satiated by killing innocent Hindus.