Rahul, Gautam and Tabrez Ansari – a tale of 3 lynching victims and differing Lutyens’ Media coverage

On Friday, 23-year-old Rahul was lynched to death in West Delhi after being tied to a tree in a public park by 4 men who accused him of having stolen a mobile. The accused – Mushtaq, his brother Siraj, Anees and Ishtihar – were later arrested.

Shesh Kumar, a washerman and eyewitness, tried to intervene and save Rahul as he was being thrashed in the early morning hours. The attackers refused to listen, claiming Rahul and his associates had stolen a mobile from a truck, and while the others managed to escape they had caught Rahul. Another person Mukesh Yadav, who lives near the park, said ‘the actual reason why Rahul was killed is still not clear.’

Rahul’s lynching was covered by English-language media (ELM) outlets like HindustanTimes, NDTV etc.

On 16th June, another youth Gautam was lynched to death in the Nizamuddin area of Delhi. He had come for some personal work and feeling thirsty, went to drink water from a Dargah (tomb of Muslim saints) located near a public park. The dargah’s caretaker Mehtab, who runs a battery recharging shop nearby, had just lost his mobile. As Gautam was coming out of the dargah, Mehtab caught hold of him and accused him of stealing his phone.

He tied Gautam to an e-rickshaw and started beating him with iron and plastic rods, leading to his death. Passers by informed police and Mehtab was arrested from Sarai Kale Khan area. No phone was recovered from Gautam, and it is not clear as to what punishment was meted out to his murderer.

This news was reported by Hindi daily Daink Jagran, but as far as we could check it was not covered by mainstream ELM. Even if it was, it was probably buried in the inside pages.

Now, let’s take our attention to a lynching which occurred around one year back, on 17 June 2019, and which has been seared into our national consciousness due to incessant media coverage, public protests, TV debates and intellectual discourse.

Tabrez Ansari entered a house in Jharkhand along with 2 accomplices at night to rob it. Villagers caught hold of Ansari and started thrashing him while the other two thieves managed to escape. Police arrived at the spot, and took him to hospital for treatment. Afterwards he was produced in court from where he was sent to jail. Ansari confessed to police that he and his accomplices used to steal bikes and other things in the area. Police raided his house and recovered some stolen goods.

A few days later, Ansari fainted in prison and was rushed to hospital where he was declared dead.

How ELM coverage differs based on identity of victim and perpetrator

Tabrez Ansari’s lynching went viral across the nation – all everyone remembers now is that a young Muslim man was lynched while allegedly being made to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ by a mob – the fact that he was a known thief caught red-handed, that he was handed over alive to police and died days later in police custody, is all but forgotten today. The outrage ensured the BJP government in Jharkhand acted with alacrity and the key accused in Ansari’s thrashing were promptly arrested and charged with IPC 302 (murder) & 295A (outraging religious feelings) – usually IPC 307 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) is applied in such cases, if at all.

For months after the incident, ELM followed up on the case, multiple reporters hit the ground to interview Ansari’s wife & family, and an environment of sympathy was built for him.

But what about Rahul and Gautam?

Well, for starters we don’t even know their last names! This shows how much importance media attaches to a Hindu victim.

Gautam’s case was completely blacked out by ELM. Was it because the lynching occurred near a Dargah in Nizamuddin area, and the secular editorial class wanted to protect Nizamuddin after the bad press it received due to the Tablighi Jamaat event held there, the attendees of which ended up spreading Covid-19 across the country? A google search doesn’t throw up any results about this case – we were lucky to stumble upon the Dainik Jagran article.

Rahul’s case has received slightly more coverage, and HT also did a follow-up article and talked to his wife & father, a security guard. We know that Rahul is survived by his parents, elder brother, wife and two children. We know that Rahul had left the previous night to go to Gurugram to get a job with his elder brother’s help. But here’s how the coverage of this case differs from that of Ansari –

1.) Rahul’s name and religious identity is missing from headlines – he is just the ‘man lynched in Naraina’. In contrast Tabrez Ansari’s name was drilled into our heads through multiple repetition from all sides. This is how Hindu victims are dehumanised and anonymised.

2.) The coverage around Ansari quickly shifted from news about a thief being lynched to a young Muslim being lynched by a ‘communal mob.’ In contrast, media has ensured to repeatedly point out that Rahul had previous run-ins with the law and was lynched on ‘suspicion of being a mobile thief’ (police did not find any evidence that he had stolen the mobile phone for which he was lynched).

Through Rahul’s family and police sources quoted by ELM, we have learnt that he has been jailed thrice in the past, had just come out of jail on 17 Aug for possessing a knife and an illegal gun, and was often questioned whenever any crime occurred in the neighbourhood.

In contrast, Tabrez Ansari’s family gave out well-coached statements that he was an ‘innocent man’ who was lynched as part of a ‘communal conspiracy’. Poor Rahul’s family probably thought that the nice, young reporter who had come to talk to them would help them in getting justice and maybe even some compensation, little realizing that ELM agenda is to quietly bury the matter when it comes to Hindu victims of mob violence.

3.) Breadth and depth of coverage. Ansari’s case was covered from every possible angle – his autopsy report, family statements, court proceedings, comments by political parties, ‘communal angle’, social theories – everything was analyzed threadbare. Just two weeks back, it was reported that Tabrez’s wife is now demanding a CBI probe, 25 lakh compensation and a government job. Rahul’s family will be lucky if their case stays in the news till middle of September.

4.) But possibly the most sinister twist in media coverage of Rahul’s case is this: the names of the accused were reported by Hindustan Times as “Mushtaq Ahmed, his brother Shiraj Ahmed, Anish and Ishtihar.” Every Indian will know that Anish is a Hindu name – whereas the real name of the accused was Anees, a common Muslim name. Was this an intentional typo to plant a seed of doubt that since all perpetrators in this case are not Muslims, no ‘communal spin’ should be given to it? Knowing ELM and the way their editorial class thinks and spins, this is a distinct possibility.

Media’s blatant double standards over lynching incidents have also been demonstrated in this this article. An analysis done HinduPost last year showed that 9 Hindus were lynched in just a 10-day period (18-27 July, 2019) in Delhi-NCR & Bihar alone over theft, petty squabbles etc – none of those cases were highlighted in the manner that Tabrez Ansari, Akhlaq, Junaid and Pehlu Khan cases were.

Conclusion

A Hindu’s life is worth very very little to the country’s English-speaking editorial and chattering classes. It is important for every Hindu to ensure that these hypocrites are outed and shamed, and that every Hindu victim of minoritarian violence or secular state apathy is mourned, remembered and fought for.

We must organize and mobilise to ensure that justice and compensation is given to families of victims like Rahul and Gautam and countless others like them who suffer in silence without any party, NGO or activist group lobbying for them. We must support the handful of journalists who report from the ground about these Hindu victims, and about rampant persecution of Hindus. We must force even the mainstream TV outlets like Zee, Republic etc who have shown some empathy for Hindu suffering, to cover these incidents affecting ordinary Hindus rather than the usual political slugfests or Bollywood/cricket ‘news’.


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