How media, police stereotype ‘terror suspects’

Deccan Herald journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui has walked out of the central jail in Bangalore a free man, six months after being named by the city’s police in an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to target two Kannada journalists and the publisher of the newspaper they were earlier employed in.

Siddiqui had been accused of being the “mastermind” of a gang of 15 in August last year to kill editor Vishweshwar Bhat, columnist Pratap Simha and publisher Vijay Sankeshwar, allegedly for their “right-wing leanings“. The journalists were with Vijaya Karnataka of The Times of India group, before they joined Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s Kannada Prabha.

The national investigation agency (NIA), which investigated the case, didn’t name Siddiqui in its chargesheet on February 20 following which a special court trying the case ordered his release on February 23.

On Monday night, Siddiqui walked out of jail and on Tuesday, he addressed a press conference.

Reporting for the Indian Express, Johnson T.A. writes:

About six months ago, when he appeared in court for the first time after being named by the Bangalore Police, Siddiqui, 26, still had the glint of youthful exuberance in his eyes.

But now, the first thing that comes to mind on seeing Siddiqui after his release from prison on Monday, is the disappearance of that enthusiasm from his face. Gone is the glint in his eyes, and in its place is a serious, sad man.

Even so, Siddiqui, whose thesis suggestion for his PG diploma in mass communication—‘Media coverage of terrorism suspects’—was struck down by his supervisor pulled no punches in describing his own ordeal before his colleagues, compatriots and competitors.

***

siddiqui

# “The media has forgotten the ‘A’ in the ABC of Journalism [Accuracy-Brevity-Clarity].”

# “I always thought the police, media and society at large do not treat terror suspects fairly. That thinking has been reinforced by my experience.”

# “Security agencies are not sensitive towards the poor and weaker sections of society. If you look at the way the entire operation was carried out by the police and reported by the media, this insensitivity is clear.”

# According to the [Bangalore] police and the media, I am the mastermind. If I am the mastermind, why are the others still in jail? I hope they too will get justice.”

# “The media and the police need to be more sensitive toward the downtrodden, Dalits and Muslims. The way the media and the police behaved raises basic questions about their attitude toward Muslims.

# “Muslims are often cast by the media and police in stereotypes. There is an institutional bias which manifests in such cases. This is not just about me; it is about hundreds like me who are in jails [across the country] on terror charges. Muslims are not terrorists.”

# “If I was not a Muslim the police wouldn’t have picked me…. They first arrest people, then find evidence against them. What happened on August 29, 2012 was no arrest but downright kidnapping. A bunch of strong men barged into our house and forcefully took us away in their vehicles. This even as we were pleading and asking why we were being taken out.”

# “They kept interrogating me as if I was the mastermind and kept saying that I’d be in for seven years for sure. Everyone knows that jail is no fun place. For the first 30 days we were cramped in a small room. The confinement itself was torture.  They did not inform our families. They did not tell us what we were being arrested for. They made us sign 30-40 blank sheets of paper. One of these papers was used to create fake, back-dated arrest intimation.”

# “Some fair play is still possible in the system. Though justice was delayed, it wasn’t denied in my case.”

Siddiqui, who is still on Deccan Herald‘s roster, says he wants to go back to journalism, for that is his passion, but wants to spend time with his family first.

Two other journalists—Jigna Vora of The Asian Age and S.M.A. Kazmi—have been arrested in recent times on terror charges, only to be freed later.

Photograph: Journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui at a press conference in Bangalore on 26 February 2013 (courtesy Md. Asad/ The Times of India)

Also read: Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?

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29 Responses to “How media, police stereotype ‘terror suspects’”

  1. Deepak Says:

    That’s sad. So many innocent people languish in jail because of police desperation to show results. But biased media never talks about Pragya Thakur who is very clearly falsely implicated in the Malegaon blasts. After so many years still NIA is not able to proceed on trial and the reason is simple – there is no evidence. Whole thing is an Italian plot to create the bogey of Hindu terror. It is shameful to watch the media go silent when it comes to such people. But when it comes to Indian Mujaheedin, even well known anchors/journalists bleed tears for IM types.

  2. A JOURNALIST Says:

    I doubted the police theory from day one. I have been proved right.
    BJP has saffronised the police and a major section of media in Karnataka. The next government (hopefully not a BJP one) must kick these saffron cops out and stay away from cheddi editors.

    Action should be taken against Bangalore police.

  3. Communal Award Says:

    Indian Parliament should apologize to Muslims/Christians/Anglo-Indians/Sikh/SC/ST people for delaying the implementation of “Communal Award” https://www.facebook.com/communalaward

  4. Melanie Says:

    Finally, it is all about your name! When Obama was contesting the US elections for the first time, there were these huge flurry of comments linking him with the name Osama , as well as bringing up the issue of his father’s religion!

  5. asha Says:

    NIA is a disaster as an organisation. Since it was formed it has zilch to show for its achievements. What was the reason this matiur rehman not included in chargesheet..will NIA explain? NO. Atleast, will it explain why there is no chargesheet filed against the malegaon blast case accused Col.Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya even after 2 years of their arrest..NO. Then WTF is NIA doing?

  6. Guhan. S. Says:

    Its the usual suspects; most crime is done by black in the USA, it becomes a stereotype. I think their is a greater propensity for crime with the Blacks. Muslim outrage even with the silliest of presumed insult towards Islam/Muslims is a major cause. A Muslim bears allegiance to a fellow Muslim anywhere in the world and not to India.

    Police action is not intentional, it is a matter of being careful, If it was Pakistan/BD this guy would have been dead by now.

  7. chidu22 Says:

    Mr Rehman, points taken.
    Can you reflect why muslims become targets of suspicion. Your points only reflects what is deficient in our system. Could you also educate the muslim youth to join the main stream and contribute to the growth of the country than indulge in Jehadist activity, religion above country and many such nonsenses.

  8. Saif Says:

    One of 10 big achievements of our current Nagpur remote controlled Government. Here are the remaining, No: 9) Getting Rajya Sabha seat for a dancer, instead of a honest party worker who could actually use the position to work for the upliftment of the state, No:8) (Quite a few) Eliminating ‘foreigners’ from text books + Stripping Dalits & minorities for eating cow meat + Withdrawing cases against criminals caught in the act destroying public property in the name of religion, No: 7) Bachche Gowda beating up a passer by for daring to overtake his car, No: 6) Rape of friend’s wife by Minister Halappa + Public display of affection by moral policeman Renukacharya with some other’s wife, No: 5) Watching Porn in Assembly, No: 4) Public beating up women for mingling with members of opposite sex/ religions/ castes, No: 3) Looting of public land by denotifying + Bribing Mutts with tax payers’ money to buy caste based votes, No: 2) Meeting to work in assembly for the least no: of days in any 5 year term of the state’s history/ Taking up perks & salaries to record highs, No: 1) No guessing – Removing the green saree of our beloved mother Karnataka – illegal mining in Bellary & other areas + day light loot of iron ore from Bellikere port.

  9. Abdur Rehman Patrawala Says:

    A Muslim Prime Minister is the solution for more than half century of slavery due to the creation of Pakistan- the Himalayan Blunder Committed by Mr. Jinnah and Nehru…

  10. Anonymous Guy Says:

    If Siddiqui could sue those who put him in prison for 6 months and extract punitive damages, there may have been hope. But in India, that is usually not possible.

    What does this say of us?

    What would you do if you were put in prison for 6 months and you come out and the perpetrators carry on with impunity? How is this any different from religious terrorism? What do you expect an educated, idealistic person to do?

    Ironically we do this not just out of malice , but also our incompetence. If I am incapable of catching the real culprits, I torture anyone we can lay our hands on. We haven’t evolved one step from what the British taught us for their own gains.

    And then we bitch about corruption, inefficiency, politicians etc. The system is not the problem, we Indians are the problem.

    If we dont get our act together, we are only playing into the hands of the terrorists.

  11. adithyahk Says:

    ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಭಟ್ಟ
    My heart goes out to the innocent.
    If you’re audibly challenged or if you can’t catch the accent please don’t turn on translation in this video it’s contrary to his statement- innocents are okay -president Kennedy-Bahrain- my album is out…

  12. Mysore Peshva Says:

    I hope this articulate and earnest young man will choose to return to journalism, systematically exposing, through hard-hitting reporting, all of Bangalore’s incompetent ruffians who wear police uniforms. May the force be with Siddiqui! Jai Hind.

  13. somashekhar Says:

    when I first heard about the news & alleged targets, I felt this was a fake case or if real, the terrorists are fools

  14. Anitha Says:

    Ah…. Churumuri, I was waiting for this article!!!

    Cry, my beloved blog post, cry. For all the atrocities that stray muslims are subjected to when they are picked up for questioning in terror related issues…

    Laugh, my beloved blog post. When some other muslims carry out a bomb blast in which scores of Indians die.

  15. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Anitha, How about you get locked you up for all the stray atrocities committed on the lower caste people in India, and continue to do to this day all over India.

  16. Doddi Buddi Says:

    As far as I know, this journo was released on a technicality. Bangalore Police had a good case and NIA chose to ignore it. NIA have been disgracefully inept in most of the cases they have handled so far. I agree with the posters here that it is better to let a criminal let go than punish an innocent man.

  17. asha Says:

    DB,

    NIA is CBI with a different acronym..that is all the difference is…CBI = Congress Bureau of Investigation and NIA is its little sister.

  18. Anonymous Guy Says:

    DB, What is this technicality that our glorious Bangalore police hadn’t foreseen? Is it some kind of top secret?

  19. Anitha Says:

    @ AG, it is in a way good that you have not disclosed your name…. else we would have known where your “loyalties” lie!!!

    Atrocities on lower caste, is to a very large extent, bogey raised by left liberal retards. They needed something to beat the hindu unity and they came up with this. The so called atrocities are relegated to the dustbins of history. Infact today it is the largely the so called OBCs who can be held responsible for this “atrocity” on SCs and STs. Stray incidents happen and with a very tight law and order implementation, they have been brought under control earlier and can be done so now too.

    Ah, the innocent islamits… now that is another question altogether. Your innocent muslims will find time to protest against the atrocities committed on their ummah brotherhood but have no point in condemning the heinous acts done by their own brethern at their own backyards!!! So how is the society at fault if it starts viewing every muslim as a potential terrorist??? What have they done to dispel this notion?

    If anything, what I see today is even more alarming. An average muslim is getting even more rabid. I have seen little girls, as little as 3 or 4 years, dressed up in head to toe covering sack of cloth. Little boys made to wear ankle length pyjamas with a skull cap….women adhering to the strictest possible interpretaion of burqa….men not shaving… and you blame the society for typecasting muslims???

    @ DB, it is not better to let a criminal go than punish an innocent man… sorry, an entire generation has been brainwashed by this stupid statement. When it comes to terrorism, there is no point in taking chance. The criminal you let go today will be the cause of a couple of blasts in time to come.

  20. adithyahk Says:

    Abdur Rehman- very funny
    Muslims are heavily religious and a religious person heading a nation, which is secular constitutionally, is gross & bizarre, and Muslims are neither minority nor slaves, many other religions which are older than Islam to this nation have been devoured or oppressed, Islam is in a better position. Any Govt. that is elected, is done so for the sole purpose of developing all, not just a particular religion.

  21. asha Says:

    NIA opposed bail of Sadhvi Pragya and the court denied bail, but allowed the Sadhvi to attend her fathers funeral. NIA is yet to file a FIR against her, 2 years after arresting her on terrorism charges.

    NIA finds a technicality in Bangalore police FIR to let mathiur rehman walk out of terror charges.

    A case study of how NIA works and who is behind its decisions.

  22. Anitha Says:

    For those who are crying that muslims are victimised, here is a bit to ponder about….

    If you guys remember, very recently, two of our soldiers were tortured in the most cruel and inhuman manner and were killed. This was ofcourse done by the followers of religion of peace. What is even more painful is that one of the soldiers – Lance Naik Hemraj – was beheaded and it was never recovered.

    Lance Naik Hemraj was from UP. He was killed on Jan 8th and the Secular Chief Minister of UP did not have time to meet the family of the deceased till Jan 15th, a full week after the incident.

    Compare this with the alacrity he showed in meeting the dead DSP’s family, just a day after his death in the hands of Raja Bhaiyaa, a dreaded don belonging to his own party.

    No, don’t give him too much credit for this quick action of the CM. The only reason he went there was the slain DSP was a man from the religion of peace. He would not have been this lucky had he been a Hindu….

    People still talk of sterotyping terror suspects…

  23. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Asha I agree; NIA = Not Involved in Anything!

  24. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Anitha aka palahalli, This is a particular case of a journalist who was arrested and kept in jail for no reason, and the people who did it going free.
    So caste based oppression which happens every day in villages is fine in your book. Stray incidents? Just like the stray incidents of Muslims indulging in terrorism? What hindu unity are you talking about? The one which lives in the people like you?
    And since when did 2 wrongs make a right?

    By your own logic, you need to be arrested and tortured since you have all the makings of a little terrorist and trouble-maker.

  25. Gaby Says:

    The last few comments have been silly and very close to dangerous.
    Everyone knows that the powers-that-be are playing their communal cards and the NIA, CBI et al are instruments in this game. In response the pawns rise up and cry for their own sides.
    However to link up this communal circus with the very true atrocities on SC/ST women is downright stupid. To then label these atrocities as non-existent is dangerous. The latter mindset is the archetypal patriarchal mindset which then goes on to ridicule and deny all atrocities except the one where the status-quo might have to change in any way.

  26. Communal Award Says:

    We Petition Obama Administration to Direct New Delhi Regime To Create An Independent Nation For 300 Million India’s Untouchables As Per US Congress Resolution 139 and 4th August 1932 Round Table Conference Resolution(Communal Award).

  27. Anitha Says:

    Did I say the atrocities on SCs/STs are wrong??? The Atrocities Act has enough punch in it to punish the offenders who perpetuate this kind of crime. This is a different matter altogether, though. There was no need to link it up with the terrorism issue, since it was stupidly linked up, I responded.

    AG, who the F is this palahalli???

  28. RaShi Says:

    Such things bound to happen while dealing with intricate cases. There are many muslim journolists, why was only he got arrested? something somewhere has led to him. Only when you arrest suspects and interrogate him the truth will be out. Intelligence works on perception and might go wrong.
    I remember reading a article in Kannada prabha by VV bhat or Pratap on how police caught those suspects. Police had followed them for many days and only up on confirmation that they are here for a reason, they were caught. May be master mind was not this journo but people at work were indeed terrorists

  29. Gaby Says:

    Anita (uncle), you never said it was wrong. You actually went a step ahead and called it a bogey – non existent. A little like your friend Ahmedinejad who denies the holocaust. If you merely responded since it was raised by someone else the sensible thing to do would be to call it a stupid linking of two separate issues. You only spoke what you honestly felt- that you did not think atrocities on Dalits were a substantive issue.

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