Abhishek G Bhaya
Over the last two days, my social media timeline has been flooded with messages with hashtags #DrPankajLynched and #JusticeForDrNarang.
While the basic news about Dr Pankaj Narang being dragged out of his house in Delhi’s Vikaspuri and lynched by a mob in front of his wife and son was alarming on its own, I was further horrified by the communal venom that was spewed in these posts.
These messages insisted that there were 35 assailants involved and they were all Bangladeshi Muslims. What more, the messages linked the incident with Wednesday’s T20 World Cup match between India and Bangladesh, suggesting that the attackers were upset about their team’s defeat and therefore they were angered when they saw Dr Narang celebrating India’s victory.
“Dr. Narang killed by illegal Bangladeshi Muslim mob in National capital – Delhi by iron rods for celebrating INDIA Victory over Bangladesh. Will Kejriwal react? OR he will think about his Vote Bank in JJ (Juggi Jhopri) Colony”, a Facebook post by Growing INDIA & Making INDIA a better place said.
Garima @gary_1980in tweeted: “So how many more lynchings when pak or BD loses cricket match next time? #DrPankajLynched u got to throw the migrants out @narendramodi +”
Communal narrative, political insinuations
There were comparisons drawn with Dadri beef murder, Malda riot, Church attacks, Rohith Vemula’s suicide and other communal incidents. There was a deliberate effort to evoke a reaction from the media and the public in support of the communal angle being pushed.
“With no evidence, church attacks given communal spin, Dadri turns beef killing. But #DrPankajLynched by ‘mob’. If that’s not sic what is”, tweeted Abhijit Majumder (of Mail Today) @abhijitmajumder.
BJP’s Nupur Sharma @NupurSharmaBJP tweeted: “MSM passing-off #DrPankajLynched as road-rage justified not covering Malda as it was too far & Dadri closeby. Like Hyd was on way to Gurgaon”
Revolutionary Monk @RevolutionMonk tweeted: “If short circuit in church can b Christians under attack, Pankaj dragged out of his home&beaten to death by Muslim should b #HindusUnderSiege”.
“We are a country wher a student suicide can b “Institutional Murder” but planned murder of a man will be termed “road rage” #DrPankajLynched”
BHARTIYAM @HMTHindu tweeted:
“Horse inj.: explosion
Muslim killed: intolerance
Fake dalit suicide: emergency
Hindu lynching: hush hush…sannata ?
Political insinuations were made, mostly rebuking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, but also against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan; and even ‘Presstitutes’ for not toeing the communal narrative.
BJP leader Satish Upadhyay @upadhyaysbjp tweeted: “Wat kejriwal has turned Delhi into? It’s a result of his divisive politics. He had all the time to go to Dadri but not when #DrPankajLynched”.
ShreshthBharat on FB post: “When will #ArvindKejriwal meet Dr.Narang’s family. Oh sorry vote bank matters to him first. Will Amir and SRK not scream intolerance now? What about the botox brigade and award waapsi gangs ? #DelhiLynching #JusticeForDrNarang #pRESSTITUTE.
“According to Alok Sharma Congress Spokesperson; RG [Rahul Gandhi] don’t need to go Vikaspuri as its not communal; #DrPankajlynched”
BJP’s Nupur Sharma @NupurSharmaBJP tweeted: “#DentistMurder in Delhi has communal undertones, media has pre-judged perpetrators to be juvenile before tests. How come? Act of protection?”
Vengeance for a ‘Hindu death’
There is a definite pattern in these messages.
Firstly, they were mostly circulated by BJP and RSS sympathisers, at times even members such as Satish Upadhyay and Nupur Sharma. Secondly, just like these right-wingers have misappropriated the idea of ‘nationalism’, so do they seem to have seized the right to politicize the ‘murder of a Hindu’.
If you do not buy into their definition, you are anti-national, or in this case, anti-Hindu. Their posts admonish anyone and everyone for not taking up what they see as Dr Narang’s cause, and by extension, the Hindu cause.
“If Dr Narang’s episode is ignored, many more Narangs will be there in the future. This anti HINDU agenda has to stop”, tweeted Mera Bharat Mahan @anand_tulip.
“Hindu lives don’t matter to the media. Hindu beaten to death by mob only ‘road rage’. Hurt horses can get better coverage!
DrPankajLynched”, tweeted Dr David Frawley @davidfrawleyved
Their final call for vengeance is aptly summarised in this tweet by Om Hindu Kranti RSS @Jaikrishnashree:
“Throw Bangladeshi Muslim Out & Kill all terrorists who are Responsible forthis cold blooded Murder #DrPankajLynched”
Method to the rightwing madness
Yes, the BJP and RSS supporters were out there with an agenda to vilify Muslims, Bangladeshis in particular. The trends were most likely orchestrated by their well-oiled cyber cell that employs thousands of karyakartas.
If one is to believe a tweet from @TruthOfGujarat: “Each one of them who spread the rumour that it was a ‘Muslim Mob’ who lynched the Doc is followed by Modi on Twitter”.
I wasn’t surprised but I surely wondered why Bangladeshis and why now?
Observers of Indian politics will agree that there is a method to the rightwing madness. BJP’s Hindutva brigade launched a campaign against ‘love jihad’ just before the 2014 Uttar Pradesh by-elections; there were a spate of church attacks in the run up to the 2015 Delhi elections; and Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri for allegedly storing beef in his refrigerator, just ahead of last year’s Bihar elections.
So when I read what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Assam, where he addressed four election rallies on Saturday, I almost said ‘Eureka!’.
I am reproducing here an extract from the Economic Times report on Modi’s Assam visit by Bikash Singh headlined ‘PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for Bangladeshi influx, unequal development in Assam’ and readers can draw their own conclusions
After almost two years Prime Minister, Narendra Modi brought back the issue of illegal influx from Bangladesh to attack the ruling congress in Assam.
Modi who addressed as many as four election rallies in Assam on Saturday said, “We are working to ensure that there will not influx in Assam, the new BJP government will ensure that those who are here are send out.”
BJP government in Centre faced ire of several organisation after it passed the Indo-Bangladesh land swap agreement in parliament.
Modi said, “Infiltrators are considered as own while Assamese are not considers own. They (infiltrators) are given everything on golden platter.”
The election will be held in two phased on April 4 and 11 and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants have traditionally been a major poll issue in Assam. Does that put a perspective on the social media discourse over the past two day?
‘Spread news bro, not hatred’
As I reflected on the disruptive power of social media and dreaded about Dr Narang’s brutal killing as a potential flashpoint for a larger unrest amid increased communal polarisation in the country, two things happened that restored my faith on these new media platforms.
First on, there were a couple of tweets from Monika Bhardwaj, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi (West) that set the records straight.
Ruling out any communal angle to the crime, the police officer shared the factual details about the nine arrested suspects – five were Hindus and four Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, not from Bangladesh as was being claimed on social media so far. She also appealed for peace.
Monika Bhardwaj @manabhardwaj: “Out of 9 accused person 5 r Hindu.At the moment of first scuffle, out of 2, 1 was Hindu.The Muslim accused r residents of UP ,not Bangladesh”
Monika Bhardwaj @manabhardwaj: “4 juveniles among 9 arrested for murder of vikaspuri doctor. No religious angle at all, as rumoured by some. We appeal u to maintain peace.”
(As I write this, there are reports suggesting the misogynist right-wing trolls are abusing and attacking Ms Bhardwaj on Twitter for spoiling their game plan.)
This was soon followed by a Facebook post by Tushar Narang, a family member of Dr Narang, in which he exposed rightwing website The Frustrated Indian’s attempt to communalise the dentist’s murder, as reported by JantaKaReporter
“A death in the family always hurts, what hurts more is when people use it as political agendas and pit two, already volatile communities against each other. Hold responsible, the people indulged in act, not the whole community. Those who killed him weren’t out to kill Hindus, they were degraded scum who, I am sure wouldn’t have given second thoughts about killing someone belonging to their own religion.
Though we never talked much, you will be missed. Rest in peace.
#DrPankajNarangLynched”, Tushar had posted.
Following which, the website took down its page.
Tushar thanked TFI but not before sending out a terse message:
“The Frustrated Indian, I am glad, has taken down the article. For those who didn’t read it or know what it was about, they twisted this tragedy into an uglier political and communal issue. Thank you TFI, for taking down the article, spread news bro, not hatred.”
Such mouthpieces spewing communal venom must be identified and barred from masquerading as news organisations. However, Tushar’s message shouldn’t be seen as confined to a particular website. It should serve as a warning to all such organizations and individuals who want to divide India on communal lines.
I consider all those who disseminate falsehoods with an intention to spread communal and religious hatred as ‘anti-nationals’. The political masters behind such conspiracy and their nefarious agenda must be exposed. This is a dangerous trend and needs to be nibbed in the bud. The hatemongers are playing with fire and must be prosecuted.
Why can’t the courts take suo motu action against such acts?
(The author is a Gulf-based Indian journalist. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of JantaKaReporter)