Making Sense of the Malda Mess: Media and Political Games Added Fuel to Fire

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Malda West Bengal

It cannot be denied that there was indeed genuine anger over the hate speech and remarks against the Prophet by a Hindutva leader. But the protest by a Muslim outfit was rather ill-timed and hardly helped the community already mired in crushing poverty

TAHMINA LASKAR | Special to Caravan Daily

[dropcap]V[/dropcap]iolence broke out in the Malda district of West Bengal on 3rd January, 2016 and soon turned into a riot. Muslims constitute almost 90% of the population in the Kaliachak block where violence erupted. Apparently, the Anjuman Ahle Sunnatul Jamaat (AASJ), a Muslim outfit had called for a protest march against a Hindu Mahasabha leader’s offensive comments against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made a month ago which turned violent.

The course of events had been enough to provide the media outlets in the country with enough fodder to sensationalize the issue without verifying many facts and having no idea of the political equation of the area. Many sensible reporters have been reporting on the recent Malda violence responsibly and factually.

These recent reports suggest that the attack on Kaliachak police station was not motivated by communal tendencies. Rather, it was anger against what is seen as a crackdown on opium trade in the area. Those involved in the trade used the AASJ protest to target the police station.  The issue may have also been exploited by those with a political axe to grind.

What happened in Malda apart from being unfortunate was also an administrative and political failure because the state machinery failed to prevent it. And if her critics are accusing the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of Muslim appeasement, they are probably right
What happened in Malda apart from being unfortunate was also an administrative and political failure because the state machinery failed to prevent it. And if her critics are accusing the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of Muslim appeasement, they are probably right. But it’s absurd to compare Malda to what happened in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh

However enough misreporting had already been done on the issue giving it a communal overtone and colour which is how things went wrong.

Of course, violence cannot be justified under any pretext. But misreporting and political and media hysteria do not help either. They only add fuel to fire, flaring up communal passions.

It cannot be denied that there was indeed genuine anger over the hate speech and remarks against the Prophet by a Hindutva leader. But the protest was rather ill-timed and hardly helped the community already mired in crushing poverty.

What happened in Malda apart from being unfortunate was also an administrative and political failure because the state machinery failed to prevent it. And if her critics are accusing the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of Muslim appeasement, they are probably right. However, that said, it is absolutely unfair and absurd to compare the Malda incident to what happened in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

Of course, the Dadri violence was wrong and so was the fact that no action has been taken against the perpetrators.  In Malda, though, the perpetrators have already been arrested. But the trend that is disturbing is that whenever such incidents happen all of us just go back to news reports of other incidents and this constant whataboutery begins. It is as if we are just waiting for a terrible thing to happen so we can justify ten other terrible things of the past.

A vicious circle of going round and round pursuing the same jaded arguments continues.  We are becoming a generation of people who believe that as long as there is one incident to justify, there is no need to take action against anyone. Mere whataboutery would satisfy our egos. We need to think with our hearts and minds in the right place.

 

 

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