Exclusive: Police Officials Set Record Straight On OpIndia + Dainik Bhaskar Claim That Muslim Men Inflicted Violence On Hindu Men For Refusing To Chant Religious Slogans
It is evident that the reports set out to incite hatred against Muslims.
On July 21, the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar and OpIndia — a right-leaning news website — published two news reports under the headlines “Do ghayalon ne police ke samne diya bayan, Tabrez ke naam par poore desh mein bhavnayein bhadkane ke koshish ki ja rahi hai. Ranchi mein Shaniwar ko aisi hi vardat hui (Two injured men tell the police, emotions are being incited in the name of Tabrez all over the country. Something similar happened in Ranchi on Saturday)” and “Tabrez ke naam par aur kitni hinsa! Shekhar aur Bansal par chaaku se hamla (How much more violence in the name of Tabrez! Shekhar and Bansal attacked with a knife)” respectively.
Per the reports:
- Two Scheduled Caste men — Shekhar Ram and Basant Ram — were attacked in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
- They were assaulted by a group of four in the Argoda area of Ranchi.
- The Muslim attackers allegedly showed the victims a video of Tabrez Ansari’s lynching and asked the victims to “chant religious slogans”.
- When Shekhar and Basant refused, the men allegedly accused them of theft and stabbed them.
When NewsCentral24x7 contacted the Argoda police station, however, the inspector denied the communal angle being attributed to the matter, stating that nowhere in the FIR was there a mention of the victims being forced to chant religious slogans.
He said, “Do log suar dhoondne Hamru Phool Mandi gaye thhe. Is par kuch logon ne pehchan poocha aur unke upar jaatiya tippani ki. Dono pakshon ke beech maarpeet hua, jismein do logon ko kharoch aayi hai. Kahin koi chaaku nahi chala hai. SC/ST Act ke tahat mukadma darz karaya gaya hai. (Two people (the victims) had gone to the Harmu Phool Mandi to look for boars. That’s when a few men inquired about their identity and then made casteist remarks. This was followed by a scuffle between the two groups in which two people sustained minor injuries. There was no use of a knife. A case has been registered under the SC/ST Act.)”
NewsCentral24x7 is also in possession of the police complaint filed by Shekhar Ram. In his complaint, Shekar wrote that around 1 pm on July 20, his brother-in-law Basant and he were visiting the Ramgadh Bazar. There, Kala Raja (also known as Birsa) and three others started verbally abusing them. They asked Shekhar and Basant what caste they belonged to and why they were there. A scared Shekhar told them that they were Harijan.
Subsequently, the four men started hurling casteist slurs at them. They also surrounded them while carrying sticks and rods and shoved them onto the ground. The four then started beating them up, all the while continuing to abuse them with casteist slurs verbally. They even attacked them with a knife and stole Rs 1,500 from Basant’s pocket. Heavily injured by now — Shekhar’s neck was hurt, and Basant’s arm was bleeding — they somehow managed to run away. He called his brother and got some treatment at the Sewasadan Hospital.
On July 23, Bhaskar published another report, under the headline “Dharmik naare lagwane ke case ki jaanch karenge Hatiya DSP (Case of religious slogans will be investigated by the Hatiya DSP). The report stated:
- Hatiya Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Prabhat Ranjan would investigate why the victims narrated one version at the police station and wrote a different version in their complaint.
- The victims reportedly said what was mentioned in the initial Bhaskar and OpIndia
- Should the investigation reveal a communal angle, the valid sections of the Indian Penal Code would be added to the charges.
- The police had registered the complaint under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, along with Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), Section 379 (theft) and Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the IPC.
When NewsCentral24x7 got in touch with Prabhat Ranjan, he said that neither the complaint nor the FIR had any mention of religious chants. He added that every angle, including the communal one, was being investigated. Should the police be able to verify the allegation, they would take appropriate action. Unlike what Bhaskar and OpIndia reported, the investigation of a certain angle in a case is not evidence of its veracity.
It is evident that the reports published by Bhaskar and OpIndia set out to do two things: one, inciting hatred against Muslims and two, diminishing the perception of the spate of atrocities being committed against Muslims and Dalits by mobs on an alarmingly regular basis.
A legal expert, speaking to NewsCentral24x7 on condition of anonymity, said that OpIndia’s actions are prima facie crimes under the Indian Penal Code.
The weaponisation of “Jai Shri Ram” against Muslims, lynchings and conspicuous inaction from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government are not figments of an anti-Modi imagination. They are, unfortunately, everyday realities. In light of such a juncture in the country’s history, the willful distortion of facts with a manufactured narrative only goes to show that rock bottom is not too far ahead.