By Hisham ul Wahab
“My name is Umar Khalid and I am not a terrorist”. These introductory words of Umar Khalid’s speech at Admin block of JNU, resemble famous dialogue of the movie “My Name Is Khan”. These very words raise many questions before us with larger implications, but yet to be answered. The speech revolves around the continuous media trial of the accused JNU students over jingoistic nationalism. The whole episode of JNU row turned into a new dimension, when it comes to Umar Khalid, one of the ten organizers of cultural program “A Country without a Post office” at Sabarmati Dhaba on 9th February.
Umar Khalid, an ex-DSU activist and a vibrant student leader, has been involving actively in campus politics for the last seven years of his academic career at JNU. He has raised many concerns over the oppressed sections of society and eloquently declared his solidarity with them. As he observed in his speech:
“I said this sometime ago, I will repeat this again, In the last six-seven years, when I have done politics in this campus, I have never thought of myself as a Muslim, I have also never projected myself as a Muslim. Today, I think, the oppression that there is in society, is not only on Muslims, it is there on Dalits, it is there on Adivasis. It is on every oppressed section, And we, who come from these oppressed sections, these communities and oppressed identities. There is a need for us to come out of these immediacies and look at all of these things in a holistic manner. I felt I am a Muslim, for the first time, in these last seven years, only in the last ten days. The manner in which, to quote Rohith Vemula, “I was reduced to my immediate identity”, is very shameful.”
Here the real trial has been carried out by the media, even before the involvement of the state. The barking noises of media rooms pulled the crowd to act by any means necessary on the basis of exaggerated threat alert. They all have focused on a name within hours, who is very particular for them by his nominal denomination. His name is Umar Khalid, obviously a strange Arabic name, put up to an immediate identity of Muslim. Despite he is a nominal Muslim, he was picked up to a propaganda machinery, which can do whatever it needs to satisfy so-called collective conscience. He was branded as a sympathizer of Jaishe-Muhammad and Hafez Saeed under the fake social media accounts. They have articulated his journeys to Pakistan without passport, his influence in universities all over the country and his links to global terror groups in a few hours, at a time even our authority has failed to do in the case of David Hedly. As Umar rightly observed: “If anyone speaks up against something in this country, then, If someone is an adivasi, they call him a Maoist, if someone is a muslim, they call him a terrorist. There has been a whole process like this (in the media) with the backing of the entire state apparatus, behind this kind of media trial.”
It is not a particular event in this country, it can be analyzed as one instance in whole series of witch hunt of marginalized communities, whether it Muslim, Dalit, Adivasi or other minority communities. Recently on the eve of Republic Day celebrations, National Investigation Agency arrested 14 Muslim youths from various parts of India branded as “suspected Islamic State sympathizers”. This long denomination itself proves its conspicuous intentions of arrest over clouded allegations on Muslim youth in India, as potential terrorists. Even this episode of branding has been happening in our country at a time when the whole Muslim community stands against the brutal atrocities of Islamic State all over world. Earlier accusations were made by the state apparatus as sympathizers of ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and now transformed with an additional S as ISIS. But the destiny of these desperate Muslim youth has not changed yet, but rather has worsened into miserable lives. They have been living under surveillance, witnessing all cruelties in the name of law and order, without any right to dissent against vociferous conscience. For instance, the former Delhi University Professor SAR Geelani – who was acquitted as innocent in the Parliament attack case after a long imprisonment – has been arrested again recently on conducting a program on Afzal Guru. Thousands of innocent Muslim convicts are spending their life in prisons without even knowing their offenses, but hundreds of convicted notorious culprits are lavishly staying at their homes and parliament houses. Because in this system “All are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
Anyone in our country who speaks the truth against the power is branded with derogatory terms to satisfy its cruel collective conscience. The state as well as the mainstream media simultaneously take part in this demonization of particular communities in India through their well-planned scripts and narratives. After script writing they will pick up someone from any nook and corner and accuse him of a long chain of links around the world by any kind of denominations. Then vicious storytelling and publishing starts in newsrooms and channel discussions with clear cut objective type Yes/No questions. After these media trials culminate in a crowd pulling “flash news”, the state apparatus will be involved for their part of enquiry and interrogation. Obviously they can easily prove these allegations and accusations against innocent people without even defense lawyers. They will put them behind bars for a long time unless they could prove their naivety from the crimes charged over them. Then the same media will be eloquent about the capability of our administrative apparatus to rescue the country from a blatant threat of terror.
These episodes will continue for a long with these clamorous kinship between these powers. So it is relevant in this context a proverb denoting it as “For every kind of state terror, they need well-written scripts, not real news”. So here we can understand how state manipulates people by selective use of media to make the Other as a demon and axis of evil. Here I would like to quote Malcom X, the revolutionary leader of Black Muslims, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s the power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” The time needs creative thoughts of people to stand together with solid unity against every kinds of fascist forces in the country, which would be a great tribute to all victims of the regime and their struggle for social justice.