He has chosen to feed the Muslim with the comfort food of conspiracy theories
By M J Akbar
21 Dec 2008
There is, or should be, a well-defined line in media between the liberty of impression and the freedom of expression. Both are privileges of democracy.
There is outrage against the television coverage of Mumbai terrorism because television celebrities surrendered their judgment before the rising demand for hysteria. There is no supply without demand. The very audiences that sucked out hysteria from cable are now howling against its perpetrators. It is a human instinct to develop instant amnesia about one’s mistakes and sharpen knives with the vigour of humbugs the moment a scapegoat has been identified. The viewer is now seeking absolution through anger.
But the information market has been flooded with toxic weed. Hysteria is not the exclusive preserve of audio-visual junketeers. From the moment the terrorist violence hit Mumbai, much before the course of events evolved into a pattern, some sections of the Urdu press began pumping up circulation figures with fantasy fodder, in the shape of conspiracy theories, to a readership in search of denial. The conspiracy-in-chief was that this mayhem was nothing more than a plot to sabotage the investigation that ATS chief Karkare was conducting into the
News media operates within a triangle of customer, producer and politician. A clever politician is a master chef in cooking up a broth of impression and expression. Since the customer is also a voter, the politician panders to street opinion by lifting it into the loftier realm of Parliament or television studio. The very act of transference gives implicit legitimacy to fantasy fodder.
Abdur Rahman Antulay is not in search of truth. He is in search of votes. He has become the Simi Garewal of Indian politics. Garewal saw a Pakistani flag fluttering on every Muslim housetop in Mumbai. Antulay sees a vote beyond every Muslim doorstep. Garewal was blinded by a low IQ. Antulay has turned myopic because one eye is stupid and the other cynical. But that is his secondary medical problem. His primary disease is cancer of the vote-bank.
If you want to understand Antulay’s and, by extension, the Congress’ compulsions, then take a look at an SMS I received on December 1: “Congress has been wiped out in Dhule corporation election. It could get only 3 seats out of 67.” Dhule is barely fifty kilometres from
As the minorities minister with the unique distinction of having done absolutely nothing for minorities, Antulay and his party face a meltdown in
Will this succeed? Perhaps. It has succeeded before. But take a look at another SMS I received, announcing a meeting of the Maharashtra United Democratic Convention at Birla Matushri on December 17. An experiment for the consolidation of the Muslim vote was begun in
It is a long journey from desire to destination. There will be pressure and deviation; some attempts to purchase some leaders will possibly succeed. But such language has never been heard from a Muslim platform in
Simi Garewal sees a
I am amazed at the sheer gall of both the spinners in
If this is the state of deception and self-deception when one terrorist has been caught, what would have been the level of denial if all ten had died?
Cynicism is a staple of vote-driven politics. We all know that. I was naïve to believe that our nation’s security would remain outside the reach of cynicism.
I say sorry and stand corrected: Simi Garewal
Jivraj Burman - 12/2/2008
Mumbai, Dec 2 (IANS) Bollywood's veteran actress Simi Garewal, who kicked up a storm with her comment on a TV show that slums in Mumbai can be seen sporting Pakistani flags, has apologised, saying she was wrong and stood corrected.
"I was wrong on that count and I apologise for that. In the slums near the Race Course in Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai which I was talking about, they sport Islamist flags; and you know it closely resembles the Pakistani flag. This was pointed out to me by somebody. So, I say sorry and stand corrected," Garewal told IANS, after Mumbai's 60-hour terror siege in which at least 183 people were killed.
Stating that she stood by her views, verbalised in NDTV's "We The People" programme anchored by Barkha Dutt Sunday, that
She said the government must stop being soft towards terrorists and emphasised that she was "not all disrespectful towards
"My suggestion is that the Indian Army should go into POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir), do the job and come back back without harming the country or its people."
Garewal said she was "still angry and frustrated because we are all so helpless in the face of terror".
"When the terrorists from across the border strike
Excerpts from the interview with IANS:
On the TV programme, "We The People," Sunday, you made very strong suggestions that
I still stand by what I said in the "We The People" programme."
But can't we do that invisibly? Hasn't the US Army gone in and uprooted the training camps situated in the tribal areas of
It seems you are being too emotional to suggest that.
Perhaps I am being emotional. Like every Mumbaikar, I am angry and frustrated. How long can we live in fear of being attacked by terrorists from across the border? Are we going to be sitting ducks forever, waiting for the next attack?
What do you want the government of
I want to tell the government, stop being soft towards the terrorists. Act and act swiftly.
The Indian government has already put tremendous pressure on the present
But it's not working, is it? Has the Indian government received even a modicum of a favourable response from the
Don't you think
You are right. And yet it is not doing anything to rein in the terrorists and that is exactly what has angered me, like everybody else. If
Here, let me emphasise clearly, I am not at all disrespectful towards
Aren't you aware that both
As I have said, I am not a war monger, nor am I a politician and I do not know anything about handling clever military operations. But the time has come for us to take some drastic steps, so that the citizens of
On that programme you also made a remark that slums in Mumbai sporting the
I was wrong on that count and I apologise for that. In the slums near the Race Course in Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai which I was talking about, they sport Islamist flags; and you know it closely resembles the Pakistani flag. This was pointed out to me by somebody. So, I say sorry and stand corrected.
Do you believe all Muslims in
Oh no! Not at all! Absolutely not! I have never said that. When the terrorists from across the border strike
But the statement you made on that widely watched TV programme were very provocative. Do you regret your comments?
I don't. I never intended to provoke anybody. I made those statements as a patriotic Indian, and a Mumbaikar I was worked up. I am still angry and frustrated because we all are so helpless in the face of terror. I am only putting forward an agenda to let ourselves be out of the grip of fear. Because, as I see it, there are no other solutions left.
Digvijay lends support to Antulay
21 Dec 2008, 0112 hrs IST, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh offered open support to AR Antulay on Saturday even as the Congress continued to grapple with how to handle the fallout the minister’s controversial remarks questioning the circumstances of Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death.
Mr Singh told TV channels that Mr Antulay had been “misreported” and that the minister had merely asked who had sent the ATS chief in the direction of Cama hospital in Mumbai where he was shot dead by terrorists. “What is objectionable in that?” the former MP Chief Minister enquired.
Mr Singh said the BJP and the Sangh Parivar had raised questions about Mr Karkare’s integrity because he was investigating the
The statement from a senior Congress functionary comes days after the party officially distanced itself from Mr Antulay’s remarks. The Congress had said his utterances were his “personal views” and that it “did not endorse” Mr Antulay’s statements.
But the party has been forced to rethink its position in poll season due to the support Mr Antulay has received from political leaders in Congress, allies such as LJP, RJD and SP, MPs of the Opposition JD (U) as well as from sections of the Muslim community. It now appears that Congress cannot accept his resignation given the public support the minister has garnered.
At the same time, the minorities affairs minister’s remarks have also caused acute embarrassment to the Congress-led Centre’s efforts to get the
The remarks have diluted the government’s line with sections in
The Congress’ dilemma in handling Antulay issue came up at a meeting of the party’s core group on Saturday evening. The government has said it will make a statement on the matter in Parliament on
23 December where it is expected to blunt Mr Antulay’s statements on the issue by reiterating the role of Pakistani terrorists in the attacks.