Friday, 24 June 2011


Forbesganj brutality and the shocking silence of Muslim leadership of Bihar

By Soroor Ahmed,
Even as the civil society in general and Muslim organizations, activists and academics outside Bihar and in foreign countries in particular were outraged by the brutality in Forbesganj, especially after a video footage showing a policeman stomping over the body of an injured youth (who subsequently succumbed to his injuries), the minority community leadership of the state remained largely silent and the Urdu media have little or no space for it––at least in the initial few days.
The incident took place in front of the senior police officers of Araria district but the Nitish Kumar government, till date, has not taken any action against them. It just got the home-guard jawan involved in it arrested, and a case under Section 302 has been instituted against him.
But that is not the news. The tragedy is that for a whole week none of the Muslim leaders and Urdu newspapers openly dared to condemn the highhandedness of Araria district administration and the manner in which the state government handled it. The state Home Secretary, Amir Subhani, who visited the spot, ruled out any compensation to the victims till the inquiry is over.
Yes, some of these community leaders––there is no need to name them as they are nationally known personalities––chose to open their mouths only after film director Mahesh Bhatt and social activist Shabnam Hashmi held a Press conference in Patna on June 10, exactly a week after the killing of four people belonging to the Muslim community in Bhajanpur village. This includes a six-month old boy and a five month pregnant woman.
No, these towering Muslim religious leaders––barring that of Jamat-e-Islami––were not encouraged by the presence of Mahesh Bhatt in Patna. They came out with their statements only after the chief minister, Nitish Kumar, left the state for New Delhi to be on way to China as a part of the country’s goodwill mission to that country.
Even then not all the community leaders have spoken out. There are only a couple of them who issued statements and got space in Urdu dailies.
There is no denying the fact that media is in complete control of the Nitish Kumar government, thanks to enormous amount of advertisements they are getting from the government. Besides, there is palpable fear of arm-twisting from the state government. In spite of the fact a couple of relatively small television channels dared to show the clipping and openly debated the issue.
But the national television channels and newspapers remained largely silent. They have more time and space to cover Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare or even UP police crackdown in Noida over land acquisition sometimes back. But the trampling of a body by a policeman in front of senior cops is no big news for them.
Their silence is understandable as they have gone too far ahead in giving certificate to the present government of Bihar, though some atrocious incidents have taken place in the state in the recent months.
Never in the country’s history a sitting MLA had been stabbed to death by a woman, who happens to be a 42-year old principal of a school, simply because she was under constant pressure to withdraw a case of repeated rape by the Legislator and his aide. The slain MLA of Purnea was BJP’s Raj Kishore Kesri and the killer is Rupam Pathak. What is more shocking is that within hours of the incident the deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, dubbed the woman a blackmailer, thus giving clear direction to police how to pursue the case.
Perhaps never in the history the daughter-in-law of a national poet (Rashtriya Kavi), Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, had to sit on dharna outside Rajghat in Delhi simply because the ancestral house had allegedly been occupied by the nephew of the deputy chief minister of the state, Sushil Kumar Modi. The widow daughter-in-law along with her son had to do take this step because the chief minister himself refused to show any interest in the issue when she personally met him at the Janata Darbar.
And never in the post-Bhagalpur riots Bihar (Oct-Nov 1989) had the people of the state to see such a disgusting photo showing a cop indulging in barbarism in a village near Forbesganj sub-division of Araria district.
The national media may have their own compulsion, but what about the Muslim leadership of Bihar? Do they have any business interest in keeping silent for so long over such a tragedy.
But this is not the first case of police atrocities against common people in general and minorities and Dalits in particular, in the last six years. There are innumerable such instances. One such incident took place in Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district more than three years back, over power shortage. A local TV channel showed it but none of the Muslim leaders and newspapers had the courage to take it up.
But those incidents were relatively less serious, therefore, could not attract national and international attention.
The only silver-lining, so far Muslims are concerned, is that a news portal – no, not in Urdu but English – – followed the story from day one. The video footage on its Home Page more than justifies the saying that a photo says a thousand words – perhaps billions and trillions.
Better late than never. Muslim community leaders and Urdu media have started speaking out during the week-long absence of the chief minister. They have followed Mahesh Bhatt, Shabnam Hashmi and the likes of Rupesh, Vinod and Manish Shandilya, human right activists, and many others cutting across caste and religious lines.
They have followed the Muslims of Delhi who took to streets on June 13 and the Council of Indian Muslims, United Kingdom, which wrote to the chief minister strongly denouncing the incident.
The Nitish government might have done nothing for Muslims of Bihar. But it has done one thing. It has been generous towards Khanqahs and Urdu newspapers––one of them got almost double amount of advertisement than national English dailies in the financial year 2010-11. The complete list of advertisements procured from the RTI, is available on the news portal
The bottom-line of Forbesganj incident is: the whole community leadership can be silenced by a loaf of bread.

1 comment:

  1. Silence is ok, but most dangerous are the Mir Jaffer's like Vastaanvi, Saraswala and some of the Gujrati Muslims who sold out the Muslim Community to Hitler Modi. Maybe there are many Mir Jaffer's in Bihar who do not want to talk about Police brutality just because they have been give positions, money by Nitish.