The credibility of the ‘renowned terror expert’ of The Hindu, Praveen Swami, has now come down to near-zero, risking the credibility of the paper itself. Trusting the fake stories Swami files, both the editorial section of the news paper and the readers are getting misled. One example is the Mecca Masjid bombing at Hyderabad. It pays to read The Hindu editorial of October 15, 2007. Titled “Challenge of Islamic terror”, the editorial begins as follows: -- Dr Yaseen Ashraf [twocircles.net]
New Age Islam Editor’s note: The real issue here is not so much journalists like Praveen Swami but what information they are fed by the authorities. There is a reason for that too. Hindutva terror was completely unheard of and understandably unimaginable for authorities too for quite some time. Muslims do keep attacking mosques and shrines in different parts of the world, particularly in our neighbourhood and there has been a radicalisation of a section of our Indian Muslim society too that we are doing nothing to counter, so it was not difficult for authorities to suspect Muslims first. It is this that we should be explaining to our people rather than spreading more disaffection towards authorities and media. We should also be taking note of the fact that after all Hindutva terrorists are being caught from everywhere, though clearly reluctantly and not with as much alacrity as they should be. But they are, and as the arrests after recent Delhi Jama Masjid episodes have shown, are being arrested quite readily now. But if we merely keep pointing fingers at authorities and media and not at all looking within, as we are prone to do, we will merely create more difficulties for ourselves as Muslims are doing around the world. If Muslims can attack Daata Darbar and myriad other Sufi shrines and Shia and Sunni mosques, that too during prayer, why they can't be suspected of attacking Ajmer Sharif or Jama Masjid or Mecca Masjid? This inevitably leads to unnecessary suffering on the part of innocent Muslims and disaffection among the victims that the police authorities too should learn to avoid. In any case, the police ham-handedness is not exclusively directed against Muslims. But we cannot absolve ourselves of the blame for creating an atmosphere where for Muslims in India too all these terrorists attacks in Pakistan on mosques, shrines, temples, churches, and religious and sectarian minorities in general appear to be acceptable.
I would rather say that instead of protesting at Praveen Swami's reports or the authorities suspecting Muslim hand in every blast, we were protesting Islamist terror directed at not only non-Muslims, but also at Muslims and our mosques and shrines in Pakistan. If, for instance, we Muslims in India vociferously protested the beheading of two Sikhs in Pakistan recently on their refusal to convert to Islam under pressure, and similar such horrible incidents, we would have gradually created an atmosphere in which it would become difficult for the police authorities to suspect a Muslim terrorist hand in every terrorist episode.
Let us try and create an atmosphere in which Indian Islam is considered different from the militant Islam that is destroying lives in rest of the world. We should at least distinguish ourselves from the militant practices of Muslims in Pakistan. Instead of being a constant grievance-monger and finger-pointer, we should help the community understand what is happening and why so that it develops a positive attitude and is able to integrate better in the society at large. Let us be clear in our own minds: what is our goal? Do we want us Muslims to be constantly pitted against the authorities and the media, etc. completely oblivious of our own faults, living in denial, or do we want us to be a well-integrated part of the Indian mainstream which does protest injustices in a democratic manner but also looks within, accepts its own shortcomings and tries to appreciate other points of view? Islam has taught us balance and moderation. Let us follow that.
The article below is completely one-sided, doesn’t try to appreciate the problems of the authorities or the media at all. We are posting it as an illustration of the dangerous direction in which our intelligentsia and leaders are seeking to take us, the road we should totally avoid.
Will The Hindu Reader’s Editor please listen?
By Dr Yaseen Ashraf [twocircles.net]
The credibility of the ‘renowned terror expert’ of The Hindu, Praveen Swami, has now come down to near-zero, risking the credibility of the paper itself. Trusting the fake stories Swami files, both the editorial section of the news paper and the readers are getting misled. One example is the Mecca Masjid bombing at Hyderabad. It pays to read The Hindu editorial of October 15, 2007. Titled “Challenge of Islamic terror”, the editorial begins as follows:
Mecca Masjid after blast in 2007
“Investigative leads point to the Harkat ul-Jihadi-e-Islami (HUJI), the Islamist organisation behind the Mecca Masjid attack in Hyderabad, as being behind the terrorist strike at the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. What can one say about an outfit so consumed by hatred as to deliver death to the shrine of a saint who preached the oneness of god’s creation? The Ajmer bombing is the latest in a series of terror strikes directed at both Hindu and Muslim religious institutions. Investigators have been able to establish that many of these attacks were carried out by Islamist terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the HUJI…”
The editorial, as authentic a record of the paper’s stand as is ever possible, overtly hints that the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts were the deeds of “Islamist terror” groups, while investigations have now brought out the fact that they were the handiwork of Hindutva groups like Abhinav Bharat. The Rajasthan ATS and other investigators have by now identified RSS activists and Abhinav Bharat leaders as having plotted and executed the blasts. How could The Hindu come to a very early and premature conclusion to “establish” guilt on the wrong people and without solid proof categorically state that Islamist groups did these?
This was possible only because the paper was misled by its own “terror expert”. As early as 23 May 2007 (the Mecca Masjid bombing took place on 18 May) Praveen Swami decided who the culprits are. In his news analysis titled “Behind the Mecca Masjid bombing” Swami stated with absolute certainty: “What the Mecca Masjid bombings make clear is that the Islamist threat to India's cities remains in place, notwithstanding the decline in violence since the Mumbai serial bombings…” The story was accompanied by a photograph, with a caption reading: “The street leading to the house of `Bilal,' suspected to be the mastermind who planned the Hyderabad blasts, in Moosaram Bagh.” The story itself began with detailed descriptions of “Bilal’s” house, painting it and the streets leading to it in menacing colours.
Now that it has turned out these reports, analyses and even the editorial were based on lies, will the paper make amends? Is the Editor-in-Chief listening?
On 14 October 2007 The Hindu carried another Praveen Swami report on its front page: “New leads tie Ajmer blast to HUJI”. The disclosure this time was that the “SIM card reveals Hyderabad link”. The report went on to state: “In both the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer terror strikes, the bomb-maker who fabricated the explosive devices had the phone’s speaker connected to a detonator implanted in nitroglycerine-based industrial explosive…Andhra Pradesh police investigators believe that the Mecca Masjid strikes were carried out by two or more Bangladesh-based HUJI operatives, who planted the explosives in the mosque and left India soon after.” Swami always functions as the megaphone of police and security sources, and consequently The Hindu ends up being reduced to a tool easily manipulated at will by motivated people.
Praveen Swami has not yet confessed to his past mistakes. Also, he has not shown the courtesy of apologizing to readers and victims of the fake news.
There is a Reader’s Editor at The Hindu. Will he intervene in the issue? It might help if he could conduct a detailed study of Praveen Swami’s terror coverage.