What’s wrong with these headlines? (Answer – It’s Election time, Stupid)

Another disputed mosque sparks Ballabgarh riots” (The Hindu)

Ballabhgarh Communal tension: At heart of dispute lie a temple and half-built mosque” (The Indian Express)

ballabgarh

Muslim families at Ballabhgarh city police station on Wednesday night after fleeing riots in their village.(Express Photo by: Gajendra Yadav)

This one image should be issued as a ceremonial postage stamp to commemorate one year of Modi’s rule. We have said it many times already, but here it is, once more, with feeling – this is a bloody, violent Hindutvavaadi regime, with a cool headed, coldly vicious master-mind at its head – he of the Swarovski eye glasses, the 10 Lakh Rupee Suit, the diamond Movado watch – he of the infinite silences on All That Matters.

While Modi spouts the inanity beti bachao beti padhao, his menacing goon brigade massed behind his sheltering shadow, chants bahu lao, beti bachao, trying to whip up a storm over the non-existent “love jihad”.

While Arun Jaitley “meets Christians” and Rajnath Singh meaninglessly snaps, “All those who are in India will stay in India” (in response to the remark by BJP’s tame Muslim, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, that people who eat beef should go to Pakistan) – minorities are being systematically targeted both by mobs and by the state – churches burnt and vandalized, beef banned, homes burnt, innocent people killed for belonging to the wrong religion, businesses targeted, middle class professional Muslims denied residences.

But the key strategy is to foment communal violence around the time of elections, a strategy that failed the BJP in Delhi, but it’s just the way they are trained – the BJP, its baap the RSS and the sundry Hindutvavaadi outfits that run around beating up lovers and women (of all religions) and attacking minorities. They just keep on going, hoping achhi hogi (ab ki baar) fasal matdaan ki.

A reminder follows of some things I have written about earlier on Kafila. But since they keep reproducing their mythology, I guess we will have to keep repeating our counter arguments.

One – there was a spate of ‘communal violence’ in Uttar Pradesh after the Lok Sabha results of May 2014, 60 percent of which were near by-poll seats. A ninth of all communal incidents since May 16, 2014 have been Dalits versus Muslims, of which 70 percent were near by-poll seats!

This was revealed in an outstanding series of investigative reports by Appu Esthose Suresh in The Indian Express. 

Two major issues were identified by Suresh as triggering violence:

a) Loudspeakers. Groups and political parties have transformed loudspeakers at places of worship into powerful instruments of communal polarisation, leading to clashes between Hindus and Muslims. In as many as 120 of the 600 odd communal incidents, the trigger for violence was seen to lie in a clash involving the use of loudspeakers. In many cases as we know, even when the issue is amicably resolved by the local groups, Hindutvavaadi outfits descend on the scene to ensure that no resolution endures.

b) Elopements. Consider just one example – In Village Gaineridan, Police Station Jahanabad, on May 20th, a Muslim family took away by force their daughter, who had married a Jatav boy. Local BJP leaders demanded security for the Hindu family and the return of the Muslim girl to her husband, leading to tensions.

And compare it to BJP’s response in the case of Village Lisadi, Police Station Lisadi Gate, Meerut, where on May 30th, the local BJP leadership got involved after a Jatav girl eloped with a Muslim boy, to bring back the girl to her parents  (Beti bachao, bahu lao!)

Two – let us refamiliarize ourselves with what Paul Brass termsinstitutionalized systems of riot production. The term ‘riot’ is a deliberate misnomer, suggesting spontaneous and unpredictable mass action.

In fact, ‘communal riots’ in India involve, Brass demonstrated through extensive studies, carefully calibrated activities by people with precisely designated roles and responsibilities – informants, propagandists, journalists who produce propaganda as news.

Brass noted two particularly important roles – that of ‘fire tenders’ who keep embers of communal violence alive by bringing to the notice of authorities, police and the public, situations known to be ‘sensitive’ – genuine or bogus; and that of ‘conversion specialists’ whose job is to convert incidents with riot potential by inciting crowds, or by signalling already planted people to start the violent action.

And now finally, let us look at how those headlines on Ballabhgarh should have read in the first place:

Dispute over mosque rears its head when panchayat polls draw near, say villagers (The Indian Express, P 6)

And buried on P 10 in The Hindu (whose front page headline is reproduced above):

Panchayat polls worsen tensions. (On-line, the two stories are one continuing story).

Panchayat polls are coming up in August.

Modi’s criminal gangs are on the prowl again.

That’s all there is to it. Mystery solved.

14 thoughts on “What’s wrong with these headlines? (Answer – It’s Election time, Stupid)

  1. Hemlata

    Hmmm, and this is why they have started a systematic media shaming of Mizba who alleged communal bias by Mumbai broker, claiming she made false complaints made for “shohrat”. Shame !

    1. Nivedita Menon

      I dont understand what is “wrong with the headline” in this one, but a good article on Sanal Edamaruku and the Hindutvavaadi targeting of rationalists like him (forced into exile) and Dabholkar (murdered).

  2. Nivedita Menon

    To those who have come in claiming that the case of the woman denied a home in Mumbai is an isolated case and merely an individual problem between client and property broker, here are just three links testifying to the overall climate that ghettoizes even upper class Muslims:

    Mumbai: Religious bias seems to have the final say in property ads

    The Shame of A Name

    The Great House Hunt

    Of course, once such bias is made public, the party accused of bias will come up with all sorts of ingenious excuses, just as all sorts of idiotic reasons are offered by the police for church attacks (common theft, drunks misbehaving etc), eagerly lapped up by tame Hindutvavaadis (who often also preface their comments with “I am not a Hindutvavaadi but…”)

    But you really have to be living in an alternate universe (or a Hindutva planet) not to know that to find a house to rent or buy is a hard and humiliating journey for Muslims in India.
    Or not to wonder why ordinary “drunks” and “thieves” and conveniently arrested “illegal Bangladeshis” are all suddenly targeting churches and raping nuns!
    Nothing to do with the chhatrachhaaya of Modiji?

    1. Aditya G

      I agree. I am ashamed to say my parents also hold the same opinions. They refuse to rent out their flat to a Muslim family, even the nice educated middle class kind.
      They never tell me the reason though.

      1. sreejith

        once while trying to rent an apartment in Mumbai, all the brokers asked religion, marital status, veg-non veg preferences, state of origin, caste (!!) before figuring out in which area they can find a house for you. And this is routine incident at that region.

        I did live right amidst that crowd for 3 years. The reasons for the profiling are obvious to others – but to the benefit of those who tell themselves that this is cause they want people with similar culture as neighbors- this is listed below:
        marital status – to avoid unruly bachelors
        veg-non veg preferences – the vegetarians could not stand the smell of non veg
        religion, state of origin, caste – hatred of all the ‘others’ which they will rant on about till you walk away. This hate talk was never ever about not having any common cultural events, food, language or festival (but then, you knew that anyways).

  3. Nivedita Menon

    Interestingly, the Midday story quoted above says “discrimination is not only done by Hindus but also by Muslims” but this is what ghettoization does – it pushes minorities and non-dominant communities into ghettos, fearing discrimination, attacks etc in a violently anti-minority atmosphere which offers complete immunity to communal elements. If Muslims can only live in non-Muslim spaces by giving up meat and so on, is it any wonder that they advertise for tenants/buyers who would not put such pressures on them?
    And of course it is not only Muslims who are discriminated against, also single women, assures the “realty expert” quoted in the story. Oh good. Equal Opportunity Discrimination except against Hindu upper caste men.
    Into that heaven of freedom…!

  4. Nivedita Menon

    To all the Hindutvavaadi trolls who have been rushing in with media stories that Misbah Quadri was not denied a house because she is Muslim but because of x, y and z.
    a) Her particular story is irrelevant, even though I believe that these stories are being produced as damage control in the aftermath of the storm. Her story is irrelevant, because this is the general experience of Muslims, as the Kafila posts I have linked to, show.
    b) No, Kafila is not a site which will protect the “right to free speech” of Hindutvavaadit trolls – you can spew your venom all over the internet. Here we protect a fragile space where marginalized voices can be finally heard, and some sort of sane debate take place. Comments here are moderated. Deal with it.
    c) Not one squeak from any of these about the actual subject of the post – the Ballabhgarh violence, clearly fomented on the eve of Panchayat elections by BJP-led forces, in a BJP ruled state, while the BJP Prime Minister remains silently approving.

  5. Raqeeb

    Was the Sarpanch in question a BJP member ? Or supported by the BJP ? Any reports or information on the topic ?

    1. Nivedita Menon

      “Raqeeb” – the village headman in fact was trying to control the situation and bring the village back to normal, trying to ensure that the mosque construction was continued, it appears from this report:

      “The village headman, Sarpanch Rajesh Chaudhury had on Wednesday made a case for the Muslims peacefully returning to the village and resuming construction of the mosque. Later in the evening, he was attacked by ‘certain elements’ and was forced to flee, the police said. ‘He was speaking among other village elders and trying to convince them to end this violence. But then later, when the police wasn’t around he was attacked,’ a senior police officer said.”

      This is exactly how the riot machinery works – local people are not always even involved. It is outside elements (part of the organized riot machinery) – “the certain elements” referred to by the police – that come in to foment trouble even when local people are in conversation and dialogue. And these “elements” are well organized Hindutvavaadi forces.

      The MLA is of course, BJP, and so is the MP of the area.

  6. I don’t understand that if an individual does not want to rent his “private property” to a Muslim, how does the Modi government figure in? This is the individual’s decision. People in India have certain bonding with their property and usually prefer renting their property to people who follow similar cultures. Jain families normally don’t like renting their homes to people who eat non-veg because they are emotional about such issues. It is people’s private property and their beliefs are joined with it. A number of times, elder citizens living in Bungalows give the lower floor on rent for security and income. They prefer people who they find closer to their lifestyle and culture. It is people’s own private property made from their own earned money and they have emotions attached with it, so they have the right to decide the parameters on which they will rent their property. What is Modi’s or any other government’s role in this? And it also not as if this is a completely new phenomenon we are experiencing, it has been there much before the Modi government came. Even Upper caste Hindu bachelors face this problem.

  7. Devadeep Chowdhury

    Upcoming elections in Northern and Western part of India is intricately linked with fanning of communal tension by the Sanghi brigade. In my coverage from Western UP (before Lok Sabha elections), Trilokpuri (in Delhi) I witnessed it first hand. What is worrying is that such hate politics is proliferating in other parts of India and there is relatively less focus on this. The bogey of ‘Love Jihad’ is rearing its ugly head in West Bengal. With its otherwise bloody history of political violence during elections, attempts to create religious animosity between two communities should make us very concerned as it goes to polls next year. If unchecked, it will soon become menacing for the minorities in other parts of India as well

  8. AAR

    Few months ago we were at a booking office of a well-known builder in Pune, his staff was boasting about all the modern features they will be providing in the flat and at the end they declared and “madam you will never have Muslim neighbors”. My husband I did not got it at first so we asked him what he means, then again he said (in a proud tone) we do not sell flats to Muslims and society will not allow them even for rent. At that moment I felt like a tight slap on my face..a kind of bad feeling in my stomach. I have never witnessed this kind of open discrimination before. My husband and I argue that they cannot do that, it’s against the constitution. you cannot deny flats on the basis of religion. Of course it was in vain. He told us that no one cares about constitution and all, they have clear orders to deny flats to any Muslim buyer. It was a very sad moment to me personally, It shook my faith in the constitution of this country:(

    1. Nivedita Menon

      AAR – I share your disgust and shame at what is being done in the name of Hindus/Hinduism.
      To naman07hutchingite, who asks innocently – “I don’t understand that if an individual does not want to rent his “private property” to a Muslim, how does the Modi government figure in?” – anybody with the slightest intelligence can see how swiftly a generalized climate of anti-minorityism, anti-Hindutvavaadi Dalit politics (the Periyar-Ambedkar Study Circle for instance), and anti anti-Hindutvavaadi Hindus – how swiftly such a climate has become normalized, and even proudly defensible by Hindutvavaadis. AAR’s experience is not unique, nor does this kind of prejudice begin with the Modi government, but it it is Modi’s brand of politics that has sustained this venom, and it is Modi’s coming to power that has given the shadowy powers behind him the confidence to come out into the open.
      Not everybody who voted for Modi realized this – but every vote for Modi was a vote for a vicious and violent Hindtuvavaadi politics. One can only hope this realization is striking those voters now.

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