Fake news is “in the air” these days. However, when it comes to a tragedy like the Jihadi attack on Amarnath yatris, resulting in 8 deaths so far, one would think that a columnist/reporter would be extra careful before penning away.
On 10th July, the Amarnath Yatris were attacked, at about 8:20PM. Soon after—for about a few hours—the details were not clear. It was not clear whether there was one attack or two, whether a convoy was attacked, whether CRPF parties were attacked, and whether Yatris that died (at the time, 2 deaths had been confirmed) were due to crossfire. This state of affairs lasted but a few hours, and responsible channels were quite careful to state confirmed facts as such, and maybe air the speculation, but label it as such. One can see, for example, Republic TV’s coverage at the time—facts are stated as such, and not much air is given to speculation.
However, the columnist from Hindustan Times seems to be in such a hurry to absolve Islamists of the murder of Yatris that he has used the confusion in those few hours to write up an article where he confidently asserts that Islamists did not target yatris, but were “merely” attaching security forces and the yatris were caught in the crossfire. Of course, it became clear within few hours that that was not the case—the Yatris had been squarely the target, and there was indeed no security convoy guarding them.
Note that the article is “updated 17th July” (full week after the attack), and yet it makes this incorrect assertion.
Several questions come to mind here:
- What kind of irresponsible person will not wait a few hours before writing an article making such a strong assertion, when the full facts of the case are yet hazy.
- What is the motive of such a person—it seems that more than concern/grief over the deaths of the Yatris, his concern is that this should not be blamed upon Islamists.
- His efforts at absolving Islamists are also hollow—say, for argument’s sake, that the Islamists were attacking security personnel, does the crime become much lesser? In this scenario, they did not care about the safety of civilians, is it any less of a crime to kill them in such a case?
- The article seems to confuse Islamist Jihadis in Kashmir with average (Indian) Muslims. No one is making that charge—the columnist seems to be fighting a false ghost. In any case, shouldn’t HT’s editors block such misleading and shallow non-sense till facts are clearer?
- Why did HT not pull this article when the facts became clear?
- Using the columnist’s reasoning—now that it is clear the Yatris were explicitly targeted, does the narrative of ‘Kashmiri Islamist terrorists killed Hindu pilgrims’ become true? Will the columnist have the courage to accept this logical conclusion of his own reasoning?
I have been amazed at how, within minutes of the tragedy, the concern and focus shifted quickly to “defending secularism” and its narratives, rather than any genuine grief over the Yatris deaths. For example, all of Bharat knows of Salim Shaikh. How many can name even two deceased Yatris? What is our priority in Bharat — the preservation of secular narratives at any (read: Hindu) cost? Is that truly secularism?
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