The Hindu’s front page story raises eyebrows in Hyderabad

May 8, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Andhra Pradesh, May 06, 2012: The 3rd May edition of The Hindu in the state of Andhra Pradesh had surprised many, especially in Hyderabad. It carried a local news on main front page with the title ‘Accused alleged police torture’ alleging that police tortured N. Nagaraju into getting a confessional statement from the accused in Hanuman Temple desecration case.

Special Investigation Team (SIT) officers last week arrested four persons allegedly having links with Hindu Vahini on the charges of conspiracy of communal riots and instigating riots. The arrested accused allegedly planted desecrated the Hanuman Temple by throwing meat and sprinkling green colour to instigate riots in the city, according to police. This mischievous incident brought the whole city on its nerve.

Many on 3rd morning in Hyderabad were surprised by the style of reporting in The Hindu the leading news paper of south India. First of all the surprise was to see a local news of that kind on the main page which is generally reserved for international or national news. And readers were more surprised after getting though the news item, it was according to locals one sided and without any response from the police.

The Muslims who were reading that news item were wondering why this same news paper failed to put on its front page stories when over 150 Muslim youths were tortured and put in illegal detention by police in Mecca Masjid bomb blast case.

Lateef Mohd Khan General Secretary of Hyderabad based Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMCI) told TwoCircles.net that it was a well planned news item. “We condemn it in strong words, if police have tortured that accused in their custody. But The Hindu should not put news items in a sensational way, why that news paper have not reported similar way when scores of Muslim youths were tortured in police custody for seven days, why didn’t they give those stories front page treatment then and even when police did the same to tribals in villages in the name of fighting Left extremism. The Hindu should explain to its readers what prompted sudden change in its policy,” asked Mr. Khan.

He added “I think that news item just shows us how right wing forces are well organized, when their activists get caught they will try everything to save them in order to save their face. That hyped news item was a deliberate attempt to rouse public sympathy. Right wing organizations have there moles in every mainstream media and The Hindu is no exception.”

Syed Imraan Khan was an engineering student when he got arrested by the police in Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, he was later acquitted by the court from all charges. He told TCN, “When I got arrested it was published in every major English and Telugu news paper even in The Hindu that a terrorist got arrested. When I was tortured by the police for days which I even said to the magistrate no mainstream media covered it. When I got acquitted there was hardly three line news item in some news papers, The Hindu did not even reported my acquittal, this kind of biased media coverage has ruined my life and career. I was shock to see the 3rd May front page of The Hindu. They reported on front page for torture case of that activist of Hindu Vahini with a criminal record. But in my case, they failed to give just 3 lines on the torture of an engineering student with no criminal record. Every one used to say to me that there is deep prejudice in English mainstream media against Muslims, I didn’t paid attention to them, but after seeing that news item I am forced to believe there is prejudice towards Muslims like me.”

Dr Ibrahim Ali Junaid one among hundred of youths who got arrested and tortured for days in police farm houses had informed the same to the magistrate but that found no place in mainstream English media front pages. Talking to TCN he said, “When we were kidnapped and tortured by the police only Urdu media reported it and English media mocked at them as terrorist supporters. When we were arrested news items were published declaring us terrorists and accepting the police version, when we got acquitted hardly any mainstream media including The Hindu gave any importance. That Nagaraju got cover story because he is a Hindu and activist of Hindu Vahini, had he been a Muslim leave along 2 lines of a news item on 4th page, it wouldn’t have even been covered.

Syed Qutubuddin Masood a civil right activist from old city of Hyderabad and a regular reader of The Hindu told TCN “People here are surprised by the reporting of such a reputed news paper. Muslims here failed to understand when the same kind of tortured were meted on hundreds of Muslim youths of old city why did this reputed news paper didn’t give any importance to it, and now suddenly they found out that police is allegedly torturing suspects so they made it a cover story. Hindu cannot have a dual policy one separate for Muslims and other favorable for Hindu suspects. It is against the ethics of journalism. Which The Hindu always claimed to uphold.”

The Hindu responds

TwoCircles.Net spoke to S. Nagesh kumar Andhra Pradesh state bureau chief of The Hindu. Responding on the allegation of biased and favorable reporting he said, “We have never given chance to any right wing or any other group to use us, we got that story exclusive so we made it a cover page story.” He termed the entire allegation against The Hindu that it neglected the scores of torture stories of Muslim youths and hyped a Hindu Vahini activist’s torture story as baseless propaganda. He said, “We have also reported the stories of Muslim youths who got arrested in Mecca Masjid bomb blast, they might had not got cover page story but we documented their story’s, all such type of allegations of bias is baseless propaganda against us.”

TwoCircles.Net tried to get the response of police on such type of serious allegation of torture and forced confessional statement. Mohd Ahsaan Raza ACP (crime and SIT) said, “the report of The Hindu is baseless and they blew it out of proportion by making it a cover story. We have not used any kind of third degree treatment to get confession, the accused themselves confessed of putting meat in Hanuman Temple to trigger riots when they saw that we have solid evidence against them. My team has done lot of hard work to crack this sensitive case, but there are some vested interests who are trying to get public support by maligning the police by using media.”

Deputy Commissioner of police (CCS detective department) P. John victor told TCN that they did not use any illegal methods to get the confessional statement, he also said police will respond to the allegations by the advocate of the accused and The Hinduin the court.

Many here in Hyderabad also failed to understand that how police allowed access to a journalist to interview and take picture of the accused when he was in the premises of court; some Muslims are also alleging foul play of some section of police officers to help a right wing activist. What ever be the repercussion it may have on the case of SIT, but for sure that report of The Hindu and its style of reporting have raised many eyebrows here in city.

– tcn

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