By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Anti-Muslim propaganda fails to die in India. After the Tabligi Jamat now Muslims of Malappuram district of Kerala is being targeted for killing of a pregnant elephant that was apparently done to death by eating pineapple laced with explosives.
According to forest officials, the wild elephant had left the forests of the Silent Valley in Palakkad district and wandered into the nearby village in search of food and reached Mannarkkad, where it found the cracker-stuffed pineapple. When the elephant ate the pineapple, an explosion took place that badly hurt her as it suffered several injuries. The elephant was left in searing pain and eventually had died standing in a river.
The tragic and heart wrenching incident actually happened in Mannarkkad, in Palakkad district and not in Muslim majority Malappuram district which actually is about 54 Kms from Mannarkkad.
It’s the BJP leader and the ‘Godi media’ linked the incident to the Muslim majority district of Malappuram and the whole event is communalized on anti-Muslim lines. Thousands of Hindu zealots are using their twitter handles to spread Islamophobia and once again the anti Tabligi Jamat atmosphere is built in India.
The anti-Muslim canard actually started with the BJP MP and former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi comment on her twitter handle @Manekagandhibjp about this incident. She vilified the entire Muslim population of the Malappuram district, holding them responsible for the animal’s death.
Maneka Gandhi said; “Mallapuram is known for its intense criminal activity especially with regards to animals. No action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killers, so they keep doing it. I can only suggest that you call/mail and ask for action”, she reported to have commented on the elephant’s death.
Later, Maneka Gandhi repeated the same lines while talking to the News agency, Asia News International (ANI). She portrayed Malappuram, a district which has Muslim majority, as India’s most violent district. “It is a murder, Malappuram is famous for such incidents, and it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds & dogs die at one time,” she told ANI.
Manka Gandhi’s comment had a political perspective. The BJP’s is gleefully caring on its head this burden of Nehru dynasty that has no relevance to BJP politics. So her comment is turn heads of BJP and RSS masters’s that they recognize her hidden talents and get reward for same. This lie of the former BJP MP was to bell the Muslim cat and by doing so, gain limelight.
As soon as Meneka Gandhi’s comment was made public, the “Godi Media”; Times Now, Republic TV, Zee News, India TV, Dainik Jagaran, Hindustan Times, News18, First Post, and many Hindi and English news outlets lapped it up, without verifying physical location of the incident.
To add juice to the story, the Godi media started giving the demography profile of Muslim dominated Malappuram district. What it obliquely pointed was Muslims majority Malappuram district is a thorn in India’s Hindu identity. This was not a first time ‘Godi media’ did such place profiling. Some time back it haunted Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh as terror factory and a center of Jamat Islami.
The other aspect of ‘Godi media’s’ ingenuity was that like the Palhgar news where two shadu’s were killed by tribal, Sonia Gandhi was dragged into it news and a ruckus was created, similarly media lapped the Maneka Gandhi’s comment and linked it to the Muslims of Malappuram and held them responsible for the elephant killing. Like lynch mob, the anti-Muslims anti-Islam hate media factories targeted an entire community for the consolidation of Hindu votes.
A Twitter handle named ‘Sumit for You’ which has more than one lakh followers said; “Muslims in Kerala killing elephants. They are jealous of elephants now. Shame Malappuram, the jihadi ISIS…”
Another tweet was; Indian Izlamists have a particular hatred for elephant, cows, and monkeys because these are symbols of Hindu faith system. The brutal murder of the pregnant elephant in Kerala’s Muslim majority Malappuram district is perhaps part of this same hateful mindset.
The Malappuram district since its inception has been vulnerable to xenophobic, Islamophobic remarks, rants, by the Sangh Parivar. The demographic features of Malappuram make it seductive place for anti- Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda. And now when Maneka Gandhi, without a bit of shame, propagated a lie, the fault-lines of Malappuram district’s demographic profile got criminalized.
Notwithstanding, the killing of the elephant is inexcusable offence, and the killers must be punished but it is also important to know the whole gambit of the news without anti-Muslim anti-Islam propaganda.
There is no mention in the media discourse on the nature verses human conflict going on in the Western Ghats. Animals come out from their natural habitats, in search of food; as it happened in this elephant’s case, while the human species to save their food from being poached, devise ways protect them from the animals. They use electrical barbed wire and other such thing to fence and protect their morsel from being eaten by the beasts. This dimension of nature verses human conflict has never been highlighted in this elephant killing.
The animal right activist like Maneka Gandhi and ‘Godi Media’ wore filtered glasses and started anti-Muslim, anti- Islam rants without understanding the delicate nuances of the human relationship with the nature in this part of the world.
Now without sounding dis-compassionate towards animal, a counter to the fuss made about the pregnancy of the elephant by raising the question, did the elephant killers had any clue of the beast body till the autopsy was known.
Now, if this is linked to the pregnancy of Jamia Millia Islamia student, Safoora Zargar who was arrested for allegedly role leading the anti-CAA protest, the question is where the compassion for as it is in the case of this elephant. What comes out clearly from this story human compassion for the fellow human is overlooked and compassion for a beast of burden is oozes out.
Last but not the least, some Indian leaders and media are mountain blind. They have no clue of the myriad problems of the silent valley in the Western Ghats. What, they like to see find a slightest opportunity where they can stat anti-Muslim anti-Islam angle propaganda so that they can blindly train their guns against both.
The tail piece is; Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said strict action will be taken against those involved in the killing of the pregnant elephant in Kerala and culprits will be brought to justice.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org