Raising Slogans is not a Terrorist Conspiracy: Stop the vilification of Umar Khalid

The Delhi police and the Home Ministry are now turning some stray slogans into an international terror conspiracy. No less than the Home Minister cited a tweet from a parody twitter handle as proof that JNU students had the support of Hafiz Saeed. It was a suggestion most foolish. But then, allegedly “in national interest” the Delhi Police broadcast a message to students and JNU and elsewhere not “to get carried away by such seditious and anti-national rhetoric”. The tweet has been confirmed to be fake – though our great sleuths of the Delhi Police for reasons of incompetence or otherwise, have yet been unable to track down those responsible for creating that account. The Home Ministry is yet to issue an explanation for misleading the country on this.

As the movement demanding the release of Kanhaiya gathers political momentum, the government, the police and the media must have decided that it is safer to stick to the old, tried and tested formula, which has rarely failed them. The formula of the Muslim Terrorist. Thus, Umar Khalid: religious bigot, Jihadi, Hindu hater, anti-national.

Since when traveling to Pakistan became a crime?
Since when did traveling to Pakistan became a crime?

The campaign is clearly concerted and directed from above – for how could most TV channels launch the hunt for Umar Khalid almost in unison. Spurious news stories about Khalid’s Jaish links, his Kashmiri roots, Pakistani travels – each one of them false – have begun to circulate from 15 February onwards.

“Asli deshdrohi” screamed some headlines; “the intel agencies had identified the mastermind” claimed Rahul Kanwal of India Today TV; Zee News quoted an undisclosed “report” which made the “startling revelation” about Umar Kahlid: that he was one of the key organisers of the event commemorating Afzal and that ten Kashmiris had entered the university two days prior to the event. Another startling revelation was that Khalid had been thinking of organizing this event for the past ten months. News X tweeted madly all day that IB reports confirmed that Umar was a Jaish operative. This report is denied by the Govt, will NewsX apologise?

Mastermind of what precisely, dear Rahul Kanwal? Of an open meeting announced through posters everywhere? The names of the organizers were given on the posters. Did it need the intelligence agencies to investigate that? Or for you to announce it hysterically on your twitter account?

Dear Zee News, has Kashmir been declared a separate country, for Kashmiri students to need to go through immigration to visit JNU? How do Kashmiri students “infiltrate” a university in Delhi?

The security agencies denied any JeM link, but the media is furring sensational stories. Will they apologise?
The security agencies denied any JeM link, but the media is furring sensational stories. Will they apologise?

Does Mr. Sudheer Chaudhary have any idea about the number of public meetings held at JNU every week? If one meeting took ten months to plan, the students’ organizations in JNU would become defunct. Now that even the Home Ministry has denied the existence of any IB report which claimed Jaish links for Umar, will News X apologize? Or at the least, remove the malicious and false report from its website.

One could list these idiocies and have a good laugh were it not for the real threat of violence, which these news channels are stoking. The ABP news’ incendiary report claiming that Umar put up pictures of naked Hindu gods and goddesses is an open call to lynch him.

The press is claiming that Umar has absconded. “Why isn’t he coming forward to face the consequences”, holier than thou anchors are hyperventilating. Absconded from what? The FIR remains unnamed, so why should Umar present himself to the court of the TV channels? What is the interest of these channels in running visuals of this young man on spool through the day?

Some time later, when this season of vigilantism would have passed, when Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhry would have moved on to their next prey, when the courts would have thrown out the charges against Kanhaiya and others unnamed, perhaps we will be able to understand how heavy duty words like ‘NIA’, ‘Special Cell’, ‘Intel agencies’, ‘inputs’, ‘Pakistan’, ‘Kashmir’ are required to sustain a terror charge. How the TV hysteria being orchestrated in this deliberate manner is crucial in the early stages of all terror cases.

For most often in such cases, there is little else but hype, hysteria and a Muslim.

Arnab Nationalism