Mainstream media owned by big corporations are notorious in India as they act as government’s propaganda machinery when it comes to spreading Islamophobia and by painting concocted tales of the state machinery as Gospel Truth; these media outlets help the rulers to shape the public opinion in its favour. As most of the subscribers of Indian media products and services are people who are tamed to be uncritical and are discouraged at every walk of life to question the authorities, therefore, the media narratives in India never face their wrath. The recently staged encounter between the Uttar Pradesh ATS and the so-called ISIS terrorist in Lucknow’s Thakurganj area, again reaffirmed the same doubts that were raised on the narratives of the state machinery and the corporate controlled mainstream media in the past.
A day before the last phase of polls and few days before the declaration of the results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, an encounter between the ATS commandos of the Uttar Pradesh police and an alleged “ISIS operative” took place in the Thakurganj locality of Lucknow in which the alleged terrorist, Saifullah, was gunned down after a 12-hour long operation. The police and the ATS claimed they recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from the house of Saifullah.
The incident and the style of this ATS conducted operation, which was kept low scale by the Uttar Pradesh government but was hyped by the Modi government to intensify its anti-Muslim Islamophobic drive during the final round of the poll season, reminded people about a similar incident that took place more than eight years ago in Batla House area of South East Delhi. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police then gunned down few youths in their rented accommodation in the area after blaming them of being masterminds of a terror attack in Delhi.
Since the time Narendra Modi-led BJP ascended the throne in New Delhi, several incidents that took place all over the country showed that the Indian state machinery is adopting the Hindutva ideology in a more unapologetic way than ever before. The Modi government has intensified the vitriol against the Muslim community and has used its toady media outlets, owned by big corporations and foreign monopoly capital, to fan communal hatred throughout the country. With an aim to sweep the last round of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Modi government used the ATS encounter as a silent issue to position its Islamophobic campaign at higher planes.
The Uttar Pradesh government led by Akhilesh Yadav had been a secret ally of the Modi government in its polarisation drive, which it wanted to use to woo the frightened Muslims under its umbrella and turn them into a core vote bank of the Samajwadi Party. From Muzaffarnagar pogrom against Muslims in 2013 to the free reign given to the Hindutva elements during the Samajwadi Party government’s tenure to carry out the notorious propaganda campaigns on the issues of ‘love jihad’ and ‘ghar wapsi’ are signature hallmark of the connivance between the Samajwadi government led by Akhilesh and the Hindutva brigade led by the RSS. The purported encounter between the ATS and the suspected terrorist in the Thakurganj area of Lucknow portrays the same unity.
The Bhopal-Ujjain Passenger Train Mishap
Recently, the Modi government has adopted a policy of blaming its failures in upgrading and maintaining the Indian Railways infrastructure to provide safety to passengers of the world’s largest railway network upon ‘terrorism’ and ISI. All railway accidents are now transformed into terrorist conspiracies by the Modi government to cover up its own failure in providing adequate passenger safety. The so-called blast in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train was of low intensity and it injured many passengers and those who were injured claimed that the lights of the compartment had a low-intensity explosion. The GRP S.P. Krishna Veni initially blamed a short circuit problem in the train for the blast and said that no trace of any explosive substance was found in the compartment.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister and BJP leader Bhupendra Singh, the man who justified RSS leader Kundan Chandrawat’s call to murder Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Ujjain a few days back, was very swift to decide and declare that the blast in the compartment of the passenger train was a terrorist incident and set the ball in motion for the corporate media to mill stories around the same. Within few hours the UP police claimed that they have nabbed two culprits in Kanpur following leads from the MP police, which was an impossible claim due to the distance between Bhopal and Kanpur and the time it will take for those who planted the so-called bomb in a train in Bhopal to reach Kanpur after the incident. It’s said that the UP ATS started raiding the house where the alleged terrorist, Saifullah, was staying at the Thakurganj area of Lucknow following the leads from those who were nabbed in Kanpur.
The Encounter at Thakurganj
The residents of the Haji Nagar area, where the alleged encounter took place, were told to stay away from the encounter site and the neighbour of the slain youth was arrested by the security forces when he came out to vouch for Saifullah’s clean character. The protesting local people were dispersed at gun point and the corporate electronic media was provided ample amount of bytes to feed their subscriber base. The Tv channels started propagating the story of ISIS presence in India, one of the most favourite agenda of the RSS, which wants to prove that the Indian Muslims are supporters of the Iraq and Syria-based (US–Saudi funded) terror group. The sudden disclosure of the security and intelligence agencies that a new module of the ISIS, “KhoGujaratrasan Module” is working in this part of the country was a hot cake for the corporate media to sell to its consumer base.
During the entire encounter, the ATS used kilogrammes of chilli gas, which disables the target and makes them unable to breathe and see. However, despite the ATS using so much of gas, it still shot Saifullah dead claiming that he was firing at the commandos, unaffected by so much of gas! The arms and ammunitions recovered from the site were too huge a cache to be holed up in such a small rented accommodation, which Saifullah shared with two more people. There was a hand made ISIS flag also in the seized materials shown to the media, which will otherwise have no purpose, unless a person wants to officially show their allegiance with the terror outfit created by the Western Powers in association with Wahabi Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel to topple the government of Syria.
The ATS showed two torn pages of a diary as its achievement in the case and the corporate media journalists close to the RSS got the privilege of accessing the content of the torn page, which was shared by the officer over WhatsApp. The diary pages only show the daily routine of Saifullah jotted down in English, which revolves around prayers, studying religious scripture, exercise, cooking, eating meals, and discussing religion with others. It shows no difference with the normal routine students of Islamic studies follows during their stay in seminaries or home. Nothing of the sort that could be counted as a valuable piece of information connecting Saifullah with ISIS, was found in those torn pages.
ISIS Khorasan module terrorist gunned down in Thakurganj operation that lasted for nearly 10 hrs, visuals from the room where he was present pic.twitter.com/epZ924enUq
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) 8 March 2017
It shows no difference with the normal routine students of Islamic studies follows during their stay in seminaries or home. Nothing of the sort that could be counted as a valuable piece of information connecting Saifullah with ISIS, was found in those torn pages.
This story of the encounter also looked shoddy when the police called up the brother of Saifullah and told him that his brother is not surrendering but talking about “martyrdom” by fighting against the ATS. He was told to inform Saifullah to surrender. His brother followed the instructions and said the same thing over the phone, however, as per the Rihai Manch’s findings, the brother of Saifullah was unable to hear any voice on the other side except for the sound of gunshots after which the call was disconnected.
The ATS and the UP police didn’t come out with a clarification regarding the source where they came to knew about the brother of Saifullah and how did they get his number when they were involved in a bloody gunfight with Saifullah? How did they plan to make Saifullah’s brother speak to him during the live encounter when, according to the ATS, Saifullah was baying for the blood of the policemen? There’s no clarification and any attempt to seek more information is now considered as a contempt of “nationalism” by the state machinery that has adorned the Hindutva gown very unapologetically.
Connection with the last phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections
There is a strange connection between the encounter and the next phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, which was scheduled on the next day. Such an encounter would have helped the BJP to polarise the vacillating Hindu upper-caste and creamy layer of the backward castes under the umbrella of Hindutva and manage to secure a lead in the communally sensitive constituencies that went to polls on 8th March. As the encounter stopped, the media houses became busy spilling the beans of ISIS network in India, which would even surprise tenured intelligence officers in terms of content, data, and detailed description of how the ISIS operates in India. When the media outlets found that Sartaz, the father of Saifullah, denied to take back the body of his son because of his terror link, they started portraying him as an “ideal nationalist” and the same footsteps were followed by the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, whose fortune is closely tied to the results of the UP assembly elections. He, who belongs to an organisation notorious for its barbaric assault against the Muslims, called Sartaz an ideal Muslim.
Rajnath Singh claimed in the parliament that Sartaz is a true “patriot” and asked Muslims to follow his example, which meant the Home Ministry is planning to carry out execution of more Muslims throughout the country and it’s expecting the Muslims to stop blaming the government for the staged encounters and accept that the terror allegations are true. As the BJP is now set to form a government in India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh, it seems the anti-Muslim campaigns of the RSS will intensify under the garb of the state machinery’s so-called anti-terror operations.
When the Hindutva terror forces are given a free-reign
All these are coming from Rajnath Singh at a time when all Hindutva terrorists accused in Malegaon, Pune, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid, and Samjhauta express blasts are now enjoying the support of a favourable NIA, which is quite eager to drop charges or build up cases so loosely to ensure that the lower courts acquit the accused people, including alleged Hindutva terror mastermind Aseemanand, aka Naba Kumar, who, as per the claims made by the Caravan magazine, claimed during an interview that the present RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat ordered the blasts and told the terrorists to not link RSS if they were caught.
The Home Minister enjoys lecturing people on terrorism and “patriotism” but declines talking on the poor show of the NIA in prosecuting Aseemanand and others or in carrying out a detailed investigation regarding the links between the BJP’s IT cell members and the Pakistani spy agency. Rajnath Singh and others are rather busy on one hand to unleash police terror on students who demand their right to free speech and free thinking, and on the other hand, to shift the blame of any mishap in the country on the Muslim community to fulfil the RSS’ mission of polarisation.
The encounters and the Sangh Parivar
As a replica of the Batla House encounter of 2008 in New Delhi, the Thakurganj encounter too left so many doubts that former Justice Rajendra Sachar called for an independent judicial inquiry to reveal the truth behind the incident and many human rights and minority rights organisation came out vocally in protest against the vendetta regime of Narendra Modi’s government, which is duplicating the encounter experience of Gujarat throughout the country. The Thakurganj encounter also showed that the UP police has anticipated a change of guard in Lucknow and were trying to prove themselves as the best lackeys of the Hindutva brigade, days before the BJP won the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017.
The RSS is a specialist in using staged encounters to incite communal hatred against Muslims and the organisation implemented the same policy throughout the reign of the BJP in Gujarat. The present BJP president, Amit Shah, was notorious for the way he used the police force of Gujarat to farther Narendra Modi’s Hindutva agenda and several investigative reports showed that he ordered staged encounters to boost the support base of the Hindutva brigades among the upper-caste elite and middle-class Gujaratis. The same model is now exported to Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is eyeing the throne of Lucknow since 2002. As the BJP has won an absolute majority in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, it’s now capable of executing more fake encounters to kill innocent Muslim youth and then link them with imaginary terror plots.
The Madhya Pradesh police has worked extensively on behalf of the RSS and the BJP in the past few years and in recent times the state police has intensified encounters against Muslim suspects, one of the major was the Bhopal jailbreak incident last year, where the alleged SIMI operatives were shown waving towards the police and asking to surrender but were shot point blank range as the BJP government was keen to politically milk the incident for its communal goals.The ATS of Madhya Pradesh recently nabbed a BJP IT cell leader and many Hindutva thugs across the state who were working for the Pakistani spy agency, ISI. However, the BJP government has swept the case and its developments under the carpet and no media houses, especially the Pakistan bashing unofficial Hindutva “patriot” media houses, are raising any question regarding the investigation of the case.
To create a popular support base for the Hindutva agenda and to build a brand image of Narendra Modi, who has mastered the skills of befooling and hoodwinking people with jingoism, the BJP is now spending a huge amount of money in Uttar Pradesh and other states. The media houses owned by the corporations that favour the fascist rule of Narendra Modi, are carrying out campaigns against Muslims and are stereotyping against them aiming at polarising the Hindu voters below the Hindutva fold of the RSS. These very media organisations covered up the loopholes in the story of the Thakurganj encounter and kept showing Saifullah as a terrorist in nexus with the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, without caring to reveal whether any evidence to link him to the terror outfit actually exists beyond the police claims.
The corporate media hand-in-glove with the Hindutva brigade
By repeatedly showing a cache of arms and bomb-making ingredients, which the ATS claimed it seized from the residence of Saifullah, the corporate media started building up public perception regarding Saifullah to ensure the last phase of the UP elections see a major polarisation of Hindu voters for the BJP. The corporate media and the police skipped the question that why Saifullah and the Khorasan module couldn’t build up high-intensity bombs in case they were so well equipped and capable? What explosives were used in the passenger train and where were the traces found? Why is each railway accident now called a terrorist activity if not to shift the blame from the utmost failure of Suresh Prabhu and his bureaucrats who are chewing public money for nothing? Why the UP government didn’t carry out any investigation before launching the ATS action and what were the concrete pieces of evidence it used to carry out the ‘encounter’?
People will never know the real story behind the death of Saifullah or any other victim of state’s encounter. As the victims of the Batla House encounter simply vanished from the discourses, so would the victims of the Bhopal jailbreak encounter and Saifullah will vanish from the discussions and public discourse very soon and new Muslim youth will face the wrath of the government that wants to polarise the people of the country along communal lines to ensure it can impose a fascist theocratic Hindutva dictatorship on the country by dismantling the leftover democratic fabrics. The corporate media is now one of the strongest allies of the Hindutva brigade and its leaders and they have taken up the mammoth task of building mass opinion in favour of a theocratic fascist state ruled by an evil nexus of giant corporations owned by foreign monopoly capital, Indian capitalists, and feudal landlords. It is necessary for the sake of such a fascist kingdom that more Muslim youth are sent to the gallows through the encounter route to build up support for the strong ruler.