In yet another attempt by mainstream media to ‘secularise’ the incidents of heinous crimes, News18 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 the accused as a ‘Tantrik’.
On Monday, a self-proclaimed 33-year-old occult practitioner named Baba Karim Khan Bengali was arrested by Navi Mumbai police in Maharashtra for duping a 26-year-old woman of Rs 4.57 lakh after promising her of performing “black magic” to bewitch her estranged lover into marrying her.
According to the Navi Mumbai Police, the victim, a resident of Kharghar, had contacted the accused Baba Karim Khan Bengali, whose real name is Wasim Khan, after seeing his posters in the coaches of suburban trains in February this year.
The police said that woman was depressed after her break-up with her lover, who refused to marry her. The accused, who hails from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, said to the woman over the phone that he can perform some black magic to bring her lover back to her again and marry her.
The accused Baba Karim Khan Bengali also promised that he could also spoil the new marriage proposals of her lover and demanded Rs 4.57 lakh from her to perform occult rituals at the Meerut dargah, the police officer said. The woman claimed she had paid the amount demanded by the Tantrik in instalments but did not get any desired result.
As she demanded her money back and threatened to approach the police, the accused warned her, saying that he would use black magic that will kill her in a road accident, the police officer said.
A case was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013. The accused was arrested from the Govind Nagar area at Mira Road in Thane district.
News18 refers to Muslim occult practitioner as ‘Tantrik’
Even as the names of the perpetrator of the crime is clearly visible in their own report, News18 referred to the occult practitioner as ‘Tantrik’ in an attempt to give a Hindu spin to the crime.
In its report, News18 clearly mentions that the rape accused is an occult practitioner named Baba Karim Khan Bengal, aka Wasim Khan. However, in an attempt to ‘secularise’ the crime, News18, in its report, misleadingly refers to the accused as a ‘Tantrik’.
Not just News18, even Free Press Journal, resorted to a similar tactic of peddling the same propaganda by claiming that the arrested individual in the cheating case was a ‘Tantrik’. Many other media portals have done the same.
In general parlance, the ‘Tantrik’ is a practitioner of the “tantra vidya“, is mainly associated with Hinduism, leading to a perception that a Hindu individual committed the crime.
Desperation of ‘secular’ media to ‘Hinduise’ the crimes perpetrated by criminals of other faiths
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 minority community. However, of late, there have been concerted attempts made by many media outfits to not only conceal the names of perpetrators but also give them a Hindu spin to depict that the crime was committed by Hindus.
The Times of India has been caught several times in the past by passing off such criminals as ‘Tantrik’ in an attempt to secularise the crime.
Though many of these reports are agency feed, it has been a general practice in mainstream media to give a Hindu spin to crimes committed by the minority community.
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 Hindu sadhu to mislead its readers.
Just a few days back, the TOI had yet again resorted to a similar case after it had referred to occult practitioners – Afzal Malik and his three friends Tariq, Aslam and Zulfiqar, who had allegedly gang-raped the minor girl after luring her to his place, as ‘Tantrik’.
Other media outlets not far behind
Well, other media outlets are not far behind. 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, the PTI report gave it an obvious Hindu slant in the headline by referring to him as a ‘Tantrik’.
In fact, India Today 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.
In fact, Vernacular media also follows the same anti-Hindu propaganda. 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.