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Inderlok namaz row: How DCP North Delhi ended up being like ‘fact-checker’ Mohammad Zubair, and what police should learn from the fiasco

It is important to note that later, it was indeed confirmed that the video was of Inderlok and the Muslim mob had indeed become aggressive. Later, sensing the miscommunication, Delhi Police to their credit tweeted again confirming the incident.

On the 10th of March 2024, the Delhi Police came under scrutiny after it posted a “fact-check” after a video of an irate Muslim mob from Inderlok went viral. Several netizens had posted the video claiming that the mob was attempting to lynch SI Manoj Tomar – the brave officer who had stopped people from offering Namaz on the road, causing inconvenience to commuters.

Delhi Police took to Twitter to quote one such tweet to say, “This is fake news. No incident as mentioned in this tweet has happened”.

As soon as the Delhi Police tweeted, elements from Congress and those who habitually defend Islamists and their violent street veto jumped at the opportunity to whitewash the mob.

Pankaj Pachauri, who worked as the communication director of Manmohan Singh took to X (Twitter) to claim that no violent incident took place at Inderlok at all. He also demanded action against SI Manoj Tomar.

Several others toed the same line, demanding action against SI Manoj Tomar and those ‘spreading fake news’ about the violent incident in Inderlok.

The veteran Islamist ‘fact-checker’ from AltNews also jumped on the opportunity to whitewash the Muslim mob using the tweet by Delhi Police.

It is important to note that later, it was indeed confirmed that the video was of Inderlok and the Muslim mob had indeed become aggressive. Later, sensing the miscommunication, Delhi Police to their credit tweeted again confirming the incident.

Delhi Police tweeted, “This is wrong information. The mentioned SI is not present in this video. The video is not of yesterday (Saturday) but of Friday, 8th March, when protestors had gathered in Inderlok. Locals escorted police officers to the police post after which a scuffle took place”.

Though the Delhi Police’s tweet confirmed that the incident did take place, it did leave a lot to be desired with Netizens questioning why the police were reluctant to admit that the Muslim mob indeed became aggressive, chanting for violence against the police.

Columnist ad commentary Divya Soti responded to the tweet by the Delhi Police noting that the police have accepted that the video is indeed from the Inderlok area and that it showed the mob manhandling the police. However, he commented on how the police had protested years against against lawyers manhandling the police but had no comment to offer when being heckled by a Muslim mob.

Muslim mob called to attack the police

In the viral video shared by Mishra, a large mob was seen pushing the police personnel towards the police post. One of the persons present at the scene was heard abusing the police saying, “This is the one. This is the one. Beat them. This is the one.” Soon after the mobsters started beating the police personnel which was visible in the video. Towards the end, a couple of the persons present at the scene were seen pushing police personnel in the opposite direction.

The irate Muslim mob was also seen abusing the police personnel while getting aggressive. In the video that has gone viral, one can hear some in the Muslim mob yell, ‘Yehi hai be*en ke lo*de. Maaro be*en ke lo*do ko. Maaro iski be*en ki ch*t. yehi hai la*di ka.’

DCP dismissed the post by Anupam Mishra claiming that the SI mentioned was not there. The DCP categorically avoided commenting on the attack by the Muslim mob against the police personnel present there. The dismissal by the police shocked netizens who in turn questioned the police about their stand.

How Delhi Police inadvertently ended up employing the whitewashing techniques of Mohammad Zubair to whitewash Islamist mob

The Delhi Police was on the backfoot ever since the video of SI Manoj Tomar dealing with Muslims blocking the road for Namaz surfaced. Almost immediately, there was a backlash from the usual suspects questioning the conduct of the police officer. Even though later, a longer video surfaced where it was evident that Tomar had first repeatedly asked people to move and not block the road and only when his warnings were ignored, did he resort to lightly kicking them essentially doing his job.

The backlash by Islamist allies resulted in the suspension of SI Manoj Tomar. It was largely seen as a move to placate the Liberals and Islamists who were irate at the police officer doing his job. It is plausible that their next tweet after the video of the Muslim mob from Inderlok went viral was also a move to placate the misplaced criticism being directed their way by the usual suspects. However, in doing so, they ended up inadvertently employing the very strategy used by Mohammad Zubair to whitewash the crimes of his co-religionists.

In their initial tweet, the Delhi Police essentially branded the video of the mob at Inderlok as “fake”, saying that no such incident had taken place. Thereafter, they focussed on calling it fake news based on inane details like SI Manoj Tomar not being there in the crowd and that the video was from 8th March instead of 9th March.

Debunking comparatively unimportant details to discredit the incident of mob violence by the Islamists themselves is a ploy that is often used by Mohammad Zubair to shield his co-religionists and the crimes they often perpetuate while exercising their rampant street veto. This classic gaslighting technique has been used by Zubair and AltNews in the past.

For example, 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. In another example, when Organiser journalist Nishant Azad got Sar Tan Se Juda threat and the perpetrator turned out to be someone with a Hindu sounding name, Zubair used that to whitewash the beheading threats issued regularly by Islamists – threats that have led to actual beheadings like that of Kanhaiya Lal, Umesh Kohle and many others. Here too, Zubair seeks to undermine the threat of ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ by focusing on how non-Muslims are involved in issuing threats.

“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 were 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 Nishant’s case to provide intellectual cover fire for their rampaging Islamist brethren whose bloodlust only seemed to be satiated by killing innocent Hindus.

In this case, the Delhi Police ended up using the same gaslighting technique that Mohammad Zubair and AltNews use to shield Islamists. Essentially, the police focussed on inane details such as SI Manoj not being present at the site and the video being of an incident from the 8th and not the 9th. By doing so, the Delhi Police ended up allowing the likes of Zubair to claim that the Muslim mob at Inderlok had not become violent and aggressive at all and that any conversation against the Islamist street veto being exercised even in this incident against police personnel but nothing but propaganda – this – when the truth is far from it.

From the video, it is evident that the mob was irate and baying for blood. As mentioned earlier, it is evident that even if the Delhi Police is right and SI Manoj Tomar was not present at the incident, the crowd certainly thought he was there. It is that notion that led to the crowd shouting ‘Yehi hai be*en ke lo*de. Maaro be*en ke lo*do ko. Maaro iski be*en ki ch*t. yehi hai la*di ka.’ Further, the aggressiveness displayed by the crowd and the incitement to violence also makes it clear that the mob was ready to use violence against the police owing to SI Manoj merely doing his job. That the video is from the 8th and not the 9th does not change that fact. What also does not change the actions of the Muslim mob is whether SI Manoj was present at the time or not.

To the Delhi Police’s credit, they did end up confirming that the violent incident had indeed taken place, however, by focusing on only certain aspects of the news – which is the date and the presence or lack of it of SI Manoj – the Delhi Police ended up giving the likes of Zubair to opportunity to whitewash the aggression by the Muslim mob – something that the Delhi Police themselves ended up doing by “fact-checking” selectively.

Zubair often clutches on to straws like pointing out how an image is old even if it is a representative image, to whitewash – not serve the truth. The police is meant to serve the purpose of truth and not assuage fragile emotions of the aggressors and therefore, must not go down the same route as Islamist allies like Zubair.

Lessons for Delhi Police

One must give credit to the Delhi Police. After their initial “fact-check”, they could have simply ignored the issue and continued to let the likes of Zubair spread their propaganda. Instead, they tweeted against confirming that the incident indeed was from Inderlok. One can debate the other details they added to the tweet, saying that they have essentially bent to Islamist street veto, however, we must acknowledge that they at least admitted that the incident did take place. We have seen several other police forces do exactly what Zubair does. For example, Bengal police for example summarily dismissed the allegations of rape by the Sandeshkhali women claiming that they have received no complaints about rape.

However, that assertion by them was selective and certainly did not serve the truth. The truth was that several women from Sandeshkhali had on video spoken out about how Sheikh Shahjahan and his men would rape the women of the area. Later, it was also confirmed by the women’s commission delegation that the police were not taking complaints regarding rape. Also, one of the women came out on record to claim that they had been trying to file complaints of rape for the past several years, but the police had not paid heed.

However, despite their second tweet, there are lessons that the Delhi Police must draw from this incident. The police is meant to serve the cause of truth and ensure that their communication throws light on the truth instead of obfuscating it. In this case, the initial tweet by the Delhi Police and the unnecessary details they chose to ‘fact-check’ later did not serve the truth – it instead obfuscated. The communication by the police was seen as a repeat of the strategy deployed by the likes of Mohammad Zubair and rightly so.

In the future, perhaps the Delhi Police must remember that it is not very difficult for people to discern the truth and any attempt to monkey balance only ends in them losing their own credibility – a catastrophic outcome for the police force. Their monkey-balancing essentially gave the ammunition to Islamists like Zubair to whitewash the Islamist attack against Delhi Police despite videographic evidence – a rope that the police force must certainly not give the extremist elements simply owing to bad communication.

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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