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Islam and the Media ( 12 Feb 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The story behind Aziz Burney’s unconditional apology to the RSS

By New Age Islam Staff Writer

12 Feb 2011

Aziz Burney


Last month, on January 29 to be precise, the front page of the Urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara carried an unconditional apology to the RSS in Hindi for trying in his articles and editorials to establish links of the RSS to the Mumbai terror attacks 2008. The readers of the daily in particular and the Urdu speaking community in general were taken aback by Aziz Burney’s acknowledgment that his writings were misleading and detrimental to the image of a national organisation and demoralising to the security agencies and the security forces of the country because he had come to be known to be an undaunted Urdu journalist who wrote about the ‘truths’ issues after issues of the daily of which he was the group editor.

 He was so emboldened by his own bravado and the encouragement he was getting from the Urdu speaking community and the secular Hindus that he compiled the articles in the form of a book titled ‘26/11: RSS ka shadyantra (Conspiracy of the RSS)’. It gave the impression that the Mumbai attacks were not carried out by the mercenaries and terrorists from Pakistan with the covert help of the ISI and the LeT but by the RSS with the covert help of Mossad and CIA. It also pointed fingers at the supposed complicity of our own security agencies.

The RSS took strong exception to this and decided to follow the legal path and won the case. As a result Aziz Burney had to acknowledge the fact that whatever he wrote against the RSS did not have solid evidence and proof to back it but were based on assumptions and presumptions, characteristic of the Urdu media. The readers were not provided with the information about what were the causes behind Aziz Burney’s unconditional apology to the RSS nor did the Urdu media dare to write on the topic.

Here is the turn of events that led to Mr Aziz Burney’s apology to the RSS in which he even offered to change the name of the book if the RSS so demanded.

After the Mumbai attacks, Urdu mass media had started the ‘propaganda’ that the RSS was also indirectly involved in the attacks with the help of Mossad and CIA. Urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara, owned by Sahara Group that is owned by Mr. Subrata Roy, had taken the lead and was vociferous in its assumptions that the RSS was also involved in it. It claimed that this was done because Hindutva outfits like Abhinav Bharat led by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Srikant Purohit and others allegedly linked to the RSS wanted to scuttle the probe being carried out by the ATS Chief Hemant Karkare exposing the role of Hindutva elements in Maliegaon and other blasts. The Rashtriya Sahara had also provoked Abdul Rahman Antulay to raise the issue in Maharashtra Assembly and was subjected to humiliating treatment by the opposition leaders. He later lost his seat in the following elections.

The RSS decided to take the battle to the courts to prove that it was not involved in the attacks. Advocate Prashant Maggu and Vinay Joshi fought a legal battle against Aziz Burney, editor-in-chief of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.

It is known to all that Kasab's testimony during the inquiry in Mumbai terrorist attack on

November 26, 2008 brought forward names like Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan and

ISI. Roznama Rashtria Sahara published a special edition in January 2009 entitled Shaheed-E -Vatan Hemant Karkare Ko Salam! (Salute to martyr Hemant Karkare!) The issue was published simultaneously in Urdu, Hindi and English. In this edition, charges were levelled against Indian army, Intelligence bureau, RSS, CIA and Mossad. These charges were similar to charges leveled by media in Pakistan regarding 26/11 incident.

Apart from these the main arguments in the charges made by Sahara were:

1) The security force in Nepal arrested Ajmal Kasab two years ago in Kathmandu and Indian intelligence bureau brought him to India after 26/11attack on Mumbai.

2) The higher authorities with criminal background from Mumbai police force killed Hemant Karkare with the help of Indian army.

3) CIA, Mossad, Narendra Modi and RSS are responsible for 26/11 attack.

4) Constables from Mumbai police force fired at CST railway station and some BJP volunteers who had already arrested Kasab brought him before CC TV camera.

After reading these allegations the lawyers representing the RSS wrote a letter to Mumbai police commissioner seeking clarification regarding these allegations and asking to file a criminal suit against Sahara. In its reply Mumbai police commissioner refused to take action by stating that this issue was in the jurisdiction of Delhi police.

Left with no option, they filed a court suit against Aziz Burney, editor-in-chief of Sahara (Urdu) on August 9, 2009. The charges were involvement in anti-national activities, plotting against the country and waging a war against the country. Advocate Prashant Maggu appealed an action under articles 121, 108, 107, 117, 124 (A), 153 (A), 153 (B), 505 (2) and 506 of Indian constitution and MOCCA (Maharashtra organized Crime Control Act). The allegations leveled by Aziz Burney refuted the claims made on international level by Indian External Affairs Ministry, Central Home Ministry and Mumbai police and defamed Indian Security Forces and intelligence forces, so it was necessary to take action against them.

An appeal was made to the Press Council Of India to cancel the recognition of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara. The Press Council is still investigating the matter. Later information was collected regarding Burney's international visits along with the Prime Minister. Aziz Burney was getting security cover from the CISF which was removed subsequently.

When this case was filed, Burney was trying an entry in Rajya Sabha through president's reserved quota. But there was a stay on his entry to Rajya Sabha because of this legal suit. Engrossed with problems all around, on January 29, 20011, Aziz Burney apologized on the front page of his paper Rojnama Rashtriya Sahara. Advocate Prashant Maggu fought the case and lodged complaints constantly against Burney's ‘anti-national’ writings. Though Aziz Burney has apologized to the Country and the RSS , the legal battle against him will continue as indicated by the RSS who has said that it has not accepted Burney’s apologies.

Aziz Burney’s ‘defeat’ does not augur well for the Urdu media. It has vindicated the charge that Urdu media has a paranoid psyche and hallucinates the ghost of conspiracy in every affair and does not have faith in the government, the security agencies and the army. Indeed, even a casual reading of practically any Urdu newspaper creates the impression that Indian Muslims are in a state of Jihad against their own country. Rashtriya Sahara had ostensibly emerged as a strong voice of the minorities as it had seemingly carried extensive research and investigations into stories of the victims of terrorism, riots and social oppression of every kind. However, in its defence and praise of Karkare and his two colleagues who were killed during the Mumbai attacks, the daily went much beyond journalistic boundaries and, in the usual way the Urdu Press functions, wrote something it could not back with solid evidence and proof, also without bothering if it was damaging national interest.

A journalist should never be carried away by emotions. The renowned Urdu journalist and editor of the Azad Hind, Kolkata, Ahmad Sayeed Malihabadi once said, “A journalist should know what he should NOT write more than what he should write.” Today Mr Mallihabadi is comfortably ensconced in the Rajya Sabha seat with the help of both the Congress and the communists. From Aziz Burney’s case, it is evident that he did not know this thumb rule of journalism. Whether the Urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara goes the Illustrated Weekly way or not is something to be seen sooner or later. 


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