Posts Tagged ‘Toi’

Times of India leads the terror-mongering pack

April 13, 2009

TOI  leads the terror-mongering pack


By Zafarul-Islam Khan


New Delhi: Terror is the biggest business today at home and abroad. Everyone is a beneficiary. The government gets more clout and more powers over the lives of its hapless subjects through new terror laws and activation of old ones in an atmosphere where no one dares to question the motives of the politicians over the vital issue of “security”. Security forces get immunity for illegal acts and crimes for which they win medals, rewards, promotions and huge funds with no accountability attached. Newspapers and TV channels improve their circulation and ratings sensationalising real and imaginary terror stories with total impunity as no one would dare question their rightful concern for our safety and security. Sales of arms dealers and security providers skyrocket year after year and politicians get their usual kickbacks. Foreign arms and security manufacturers continue to do roaring business. Some political party may even try to usurp the security issue and snatch power playing on the fears of the people as BJP has been unsuccessfully trying for over a decade now. With trillions spent on security and defence, the common man is the real sufferer as the ever expanding budgets rely essentially on increased taxation and cuts in social security, healthcare and education resulting in ever-increasing poverty and suffering of the masses who nevertheless remain grateful that there are people at the helm who still work for the security of the common man and the country.


This intro was necessary to understand how the security issue remains our agenda number one and everyone benefits from this “flowing Ganga”. Late last month as Varun Gandhi was facing  imprisonment for his treason and our government at the fag end of its term was concluding one dubious and unethical deal after another with world’s leading terrorist regime while a previous deal is under investigation. Suddenly the security and terrorism issue returned to the front pages. Times of India, as usual, was the leader of this scare. On 31 March its campaign unfolded with a screaming headline: “India forced to reassess threat” which told us that “Jihadi” terrorism in Pakistan was about to spill over into India. In another story the same day it enlightened us that there was an “Alert in Kerala after terror-from-sea tip-off”. TOI story said that 30 members of Jamiat-ul-Mujahidin had arrived at Negombo. The information was so hazy that TOI could not rule out that they “could belong to LTTE”. Next day (1 March) the TOI struck it big with the screaming front page headline: “Chhota Shakeel planned to kill Varun”. The news, though related to Mangalore in Karnataka, was based on an unknown IB source in Lucknow and accompanied a photograph of Varun in crosshairs. The story claimed that the shooter assigned is a certain “Malbari” alias “Double” who was arrested on 27 March in BJP-ruled Karnataka wherefrom the “sharp-shooter” was preparing to move to Pilibhit. TOI  enlightens us with the reasons why the gangster was going to kill Varun could be: 1) kill Varun for his hate speeches; 2) to restore ‘confidence in Indian Muslims’ and 3) ‘disturb’ Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh (!) (TOI, 1 April). In another story same day, TOI tells us that the said Malbari entered India via Nepal but (curiously) instead of going straight to Pilibhit across the Nepal border, he decided to do a detour via sea landing on Karnataka coast in the deep south – a real Indian version of going north by north west. In two more related stories the same day, TOI tells us that Taj Group hotels have received email threats from Pakistan and that “Security beefed up at Taj hotels across country”.


Next day (2 April), TOI strikes it big again with a screaming first page headline splashed across the whole page: “Security shield for poll rallies after fresh terror threats”. Strangely, the big story has no byline as it is attributed to “Times News Network”. The whole story is about normal preparations by the police and security agencies to meet any eventuality in the national capital in view of the huge election rallies held by various political parties. The whole big story fails to offer us a single claim by any security agency about any imminent threat but an inside story tucked away on page 13 of the same issue tells us that the Union home minister has written to 40 top leaders “mainly SPG and Z-plus (NSG) protectees” of different political parties asking them “to take adequate precautions for their safety” – a fairly routine reminder to the protectees as a result of normal security reviews which are held periodically. Same day another box news datelined Mumbai on page one of TOI tells us: “Trained pilots sneak in on terror mission”. It cites an unverifiable “intelligence report” to claim that “7-8 trained pilots and around a dozen women fidayeen have entered the country on a mission to carry out terror strikes and hijackings”. A boxed item appearing with the story says that the group “May be Pakistani nationals” and that its reported mission was “to carry out terror strikes and hijackings”. The report adds in good measure: “The group may also be planning to disrupt Lok Sabha elections” (emphasis added). Inside the story we discover that the said report is based on a threat intimation received by the aviation ministry (and not by the intelligence bureau or the home ministry) and that the idea that the group may be planning to disrupt elections came from an unnamed “senior intelligence official” who was charitable enough with his comment: “We cannot take a chance…”.  An inside story in TOItucked away on page 13 on the same day (2 April) and armed with a question mark says: “Was Shakeel aid in India to kill Muthalik?” It tells us that the dreaded Malbari “had actually come to India to target Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik” and enlightens us that “the gangsters’ interest in pursuing jihadi design [is] to do something big which could vitiate the communal atmosphere in the country”. Strange indeed. Gangsters are now fighting jihad and want to vitiate the communal atmosphere by killing those who are doing this job free of cost and extremely successfully. But the same story in Hindustan Times same day (2 April) was not accompanied by a question mark and said plainly: “Target Sene chief, not Varun”. Another TOI story on same page (p. 13) same day betrays that TOI’s mission was accomplished. The headline says: “After threat, Varun’s cover upgraded to Z-category” which entails deployment of 13 cops and an escort vehicle.  According to the story, the request for security upgradation was made by Varun himself in a letter to the home minister way back on 20 March citing “current controversy” and his “family history”. So the whole idea of the hype, for which other Sanghis fake jihadi threats, was to secure highest level of security for Varun and the gullible State succumbed to the blackmail and agreed to provide security to the rabble-rousing criminal whose real place is a secure jail cell and not a posse of highly-trained commandos. But why complain? Many criminals who took part in Babri demolition, Mumbai riots and Gujarat pogroms and spew venom day in and day out, enjoy tight security at the expense of the benevolent State which spends taxpayers’ hard earned millions on protecting hard-core criminals whose counterparts never get such treatment in any other country.


As both print and electronic media with fake footage were playing up the terror threat and how 20 “fedayeen” had sneaked in to play havoc with the country’s security, the new no-non-sense home minister Mr Chidambram called a press conference on 2 April to dispel these unfounded claims. He told the media in a press conference that “there is no credible threat but we must remain watchful.” He trashed the story of the women fedayeen, said that there is no truth in the claims about imminent plane hijackings and that the airports alert has been cancelled. The home minister further cautioned the media not to publish news which had no basis. He termed as “blatant lie” the claim about the sneaking Pakistani fedayeen and said that despite occupying his position as home minister he had “no information about it while some people are claiming that the terrorists have not only sneaked in but that they also know that 20 terrorists have come to India via Bangladesh and that they are going to strike at Old Delhi’s busiest locality, Chandni Chowk. There is no truth in it”. This was promptly reported next day (3 April) by two Urdu dailies, Hindustan Express and Hamara Samajas front page news but TOI was still adamant to continue its terror farce. So for the third day it keeps up the hype and its front page headline announces that “Taj hotel gets fresh threat from Pakistan” and claims that a fresh email threatens “to blow up the heritage building…”.TOI kept the myth with another story, this time from Lucknow, containing quotes from an alleged transcript of calls between Malbari and Chhota Shakeel during 15-21 March in which the don orders his sharp shooter to kill Varun but the latter tells him that Pilibhit is far away and suggests to bump off Muthalik instead. A short news on the front page same day but in smaller print tells us that “Hijack alert issued to airports withdrawn a day later”. Indian Express front page story same day (3 April) is clearer with the headline: ‘No need for alarm but must be on guard’. IE’s report on the withdrawal of the airport alert, also on page 1, same day, is clearer with the headline: “Airport alert on women bombers not ‘credible’ so govt takes it back” while HT headline same day also did not try to mislead: “Safe to fly, terror alert withdrawn”. TOI’s real insult is tucked on page 11 (3 April) which says: “Chidambram plays down terror threat”. The report fails to report how Chadambram chastised the likes of TOI for playing up the threat while reporting that Chidambram said that the alleged threat to Varun was based on the interrogation report of a terrorist arrested in Mangalore which he termed as “exaggerated.”


Next day (April 4) on a page 13 Delhi-datelined story, TOI tells us: “Top Isro scientists on LeT radar”. The revelation, termed as “chilling”, comes from unnamed “officials” who refer to interrogations of a LeT terrorist [no question of the possibility of his being an alleged one] by, surprise, surprise, [BJP-ruled] Karnataka authorities which, and I quote, “showed that LeT was planning to despatch terrorists to assassinate senior members of Isro…” [emphasis added]. So the threat is not even credible or imminent but it is in the planning stage. Down the line we learn that an alleged terrorist extradited from Oman claimed that such plans“came up” for discussions with an alleged LeT member in Muscat! In other words, it was not even planned but was part of a chat no one knows how real or serious.


As the airports and Varun scare died down, our media discovered yet another scare – this time an imminent or possible or real sneaking in by terrorists across the LoC in Kashmir where army and police officers have been telling us for months that militancy has been contained and the assembly elections were held there only recently with unprecedented voter participation. But the scare was needed to ward off the threat of an imminent American intervention to force the spoilt brats of the Subcontinent to see some reason and cure the festering Kashmir canker. Something had to be done before the Holbrook visit which took place on 8 April. So we heard that terrorists, rather Taliban, had sneaked into Kashmir! Clearly their Afghanistan and Pakistan mission was accomplished and now they were turning their attention to Dilli. Soon it became clear that the whole story was concocted and there was no reason to fear Taliban showing up on our international border or on the LoC.


Fact or fiction, the show goes on for our print and electronic media with no holds barred and no questions asked. In this age of terror nothing sells better than terror-mongering. Terror is good for all with the sole exception of the common man who in the end pays the price whether terror attacks take place or do not take place.

*All references are to newspapers’ Delhi editions


(Courtesy: The Milli Gazette)

December 6, 2008

Comments posted on Jug Suraiya’s article: Indistan zindabad, published in TOI, copied below:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Great analysis! Sober and mature; especially coming from a humour writer! However, if, according to Jug Suraiya, Indistan (India+ Pakistan) is the only solution to subcontinent’s existentialist problem, the initiative must come from India, the elder brother in the family. It has to show to both Kashmir and Pakistan, that it means well by Muslims and has to demonstrate convincingly upfront by giving its own Muslim citizen, an exemplary and honourable deal. Or the danger is that the US/neo-con axis will replay the Iraqi solution in India, and maneuver a weak government to lord over India as the imperialist power. It may so happen that they may bring together the total Muslim population of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and hand over power to the 500 million Muslims, as righting the wrong, as they brought Shia, their most recalcitrant ideological foes, to power in Iraq, through an imposed constitution and a managed election. I as a Muslim Indian would be most reluctant to look forward to any such remedies to claim the community right in this land of us all, as I am sure it will entail loss of human lives and material and civilisational properties at much greater level than was the case in Iraq.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Indistan, zindabad

6 Dec 2008, 0001 hrs IST,

Jug Suraiya

After the Mumbai massacre, everyone agrees that something has to be done about Pakistan, which without doubt was the passive platform for if not the active instigator of the attack, as it has been of so many terror attacks against India in the past. Everyone not just India, but also the US, the UK, Israel and other countries whose nationals became targets in Mumbai agrees that Pakistan has to be dealt with. But exactly how is it to be dealt with? And which of the many Pakistans is to be addressed?

Today there is not one but too many Pakistans for that bedevilled country’s own good and for the well-being of the international community. There is the Pakistan of President Asif Zardari who claims that the Mumbai assault was mounted by ‘non-state actors’ with no affiliation to Pakistan and almost immediately gives the lie to his own statement by adding that no terrorists originated in “my part of the country”, implying that significant parts of his supposed bailiwick were in fact beyond his jurisdiction.

There is the Pakistan of the Taliban-controlled North West Frontier Province which is a law or rather, a lawlessness unto itself. There is the Pakistan of Sindh and Baluchistan, where separatism is rife. There is the Pakistan of the army and the ISI, a so-called state within a state. There is the Pakistan which is an economic basket case with not enough in its coffers to support itself for 30 days. There is the Pakistan where 2 per cent of the elite own 98 per cent of everything. There is the Pakistan of a painfully emergent professional middle class seeking to create a civil society based on democratic values.
There is the Pakistan whose media, in a state of paranoid denial, is claiming that the Mumbai bloodbath was a ‘Hindu plot’ to defame Islam in general and Islamabad in particular.

Which of these many Pakistans to deal with, and how? Internationally coordinated military strikes at terror training camps located within Pakistani territory? Global pressure diplomatic, economic and moral brought to bear on Islamabad to stop its covert support of terrorism?
All these and other measures are being mooted, in various combinations. But, singly or together, they fail to get to the crux of the problem: Pakistan’s lethally dangerous multiple personality disorder.

Today, let alone the world not knowing who or what Pakistan is, Jinnah’s dream nation has awoken to a nightmare in which it doesn’t know itself. For far too long some would say since its very inception Pakistan’s sole raison d’etre has been its adversarial role vis-a-vis India.
Pakistan’s identity has been premised not on a positive but on a negative; it has imaged itself as a negation of India, an anti-matter India. The consequences of such a formulation, based on shared fear and hatred instead of shared goals and aspirations, are clear for all but the most self-deluded to see: Pakistan, in all it disintegrating multiplicity, is on the brink of being a failed state. Some might say it has already fallen over the edge.

Not just India, but the world as a whole, can’t afford a failed Pakistan with all the disastrous ramifications it would entail, not the least being Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal falling into rogue hands. What Pakistan needs is a miracle cure, an instant evolution from fragmented feudalism to cohesive democracy.

Pakistan needs to radically rethink itself. And what more radical than to rethink Partition and think about reunification with India, the world’s most populous democracy and the world’s second fastest growing economy? Preposterous idea, of course, for mortal enemies to come together. But is it any more preposterous than the risk of nuclear war of 60, or 600, more years of so-called ‘proxy warfare’ which neither country can afford?

Instead of its constant demands for a plebiscite in Kashmir, Islamabad should hold a plebiscite within Pakistan to see how many would like to review Partition in favour of a united Indistan. It wouldn’t work, of course. But then, neither has Partition.


December 2, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


1. Why Indian government did not follow up so many intelligence warnings and leads about the ‘planned’ terrorist attack on Mumbai? (Remember the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had declared publicly at Sharad Pawar’s birthday bash at Mumbai race-course grounds, that he has intelligence information about a terrorist attack on Parliament; just a day or two before that Parliament attack. Why he did not stop the attack and instead let the terrorists run their course?)

2. Why Times of India did not publish a report carried in its own sister publication: Maharashtra Times that the terrorist who killed Hemant Karkare and attacked Cama hospital, were speaking in fluent Marathi.

3. Why Ratan Tata was so dismissive of advance anti-terrorist measures, when he told CNN Sunday that the enhanced measures were later eased and, in any case, “could not have stopped what took place.” Why such a vast difference between the public and the elites over the mass killings?

4. Do Ratan Tata and Gujarat’s Narendra Modi have joint plans to undermine Maharashtra’s economic status?

5. Why Shaheed ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s widow refused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s posthumous reward of one crore rupees? Is it to highlight Sangh Parivar’s demonisation of Hemant Karkare’s role in his legitimate enquiries in Malegaon bomb blast? What the Sangh Parivar had to hide? Will Chidambaram take over from where Karkare left? Will Chidambaram show the same professional integrity or absolve the Sanghi terrorists one by one to cater to the political demands on the beleaguered Congress?

6. Why India has first spurned the offer of Israeli help and has now succumbed to accept the offer of US and Israeli covert agencies? What are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s constraints? Why the West is crowding India?

7. Why the British nationalities of some of the Mumbai terrorists are not highlighted by Indian media. Why the Kashmiri origin of the British terrorists has been superimposed by their ‘Pakistani’ identity? Are British Kashmiris forcing their government to move on Kashmir settlement?

8. With so much intelligence information with the US, British and Israel, why their top leaders did not visit India to shake up Indian leadership? Why are they now trooping in with post-attack plans to sell India their expensive prescriptions? Is there any method to this madness?

9. Is a solution on Kashmir to be hammered out and forced on India?

10. With India’s parliamentary elections not far off, is a ‘regime change’ operation underway by outside powers?

11. When will the Indian establishment be confident enough to discard its anti-Muslim crutches that sustains it modus vivendi?

12. Will Indian democracy ever empower the vast disenfranchised majority and snatch power from the oligarchs of the minority of high caste Hindus? Has the Mumbai terror attack united the nation or merely strengthened the stranglehold of the oligarchs?