By TCN News Desk,
Hyderabad: The defamation suit against Praveen Swami, the National Bureau Chief of The Hindu, by Karnataka native Muhammad Zarar Siddibapa, whom Swami had described “fugitive Indian Mujahideen commander” in his 30th Nov. story, has evoked mixed responses from Swami’s other victims.
When TCN asked the Muslim youths who were arrested in Mecca Masjid blast case of 2007 and who were later acquitted as innocent by the courts, if they were planning to move court against Swami’s media terror and false reporting, they expressed helplessness and fear of further harassment from intelligence agencies.
One of the acquitted youths in Mecca Masjid blast case, Dr. Junaid Ali Ibrahim [TCN photo]
Swami in his several reports and Hindu editorials, had consistently declared the arrested Muslim youths as “Harkat ul-Jihadi-e-Islami (HUJI)” activists and responsible for the Mecca Masjid blast 2007. Swami had also overtly hinted that Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts were the deeds of “Islamist terror” groups, while investigations have now brought out the fact that they were the handiwork of Hindutva groups like Abhinav Bharat. The Rajasthan ATS and other investigators have by now identified Hindutva terrorists and arrested some of them.
As early as 23 May 2007 (the Mecca Masjid bombing took place on 18 May) Praveen Swami decided who the culprits are. In his news analysis titled “Behind the Mecca Masjid bombing” Swami stated with absolute certainty: “What the Mecca Masjid bombings make clear is that the Islamist threat to India’s cities remains in place, notwithstanding the decline in violence since the Mumbai serial bombings…”
The Hindu editorial of October 15, 2007, titled “Challenge of Islamic terror”, the editorial begins as follows: “Investigative leads point to the Harkat ul-Jihadi-e-Islami (HUJI), the Islamist organisation behind the Mecca Masjid attack in Hyderabad, as being behind the terrorist strike at the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer….Investigators have been able to establish that many of these attacks were carried out by Islamist terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the HUJI…”
Imran Khan, who was arrested in connection with Mecca Masjid blast and who remained in jail for around 17 months told TCN that initially he had contemplated approaching courts against Praveen Swami, who had regarded him along with others, as terrorists from HuJI. But later Imran’s lawyer suggested him not to do that, apprehending further harassment of torture and witch hunt from the intelligence agencies.
“Praveen Swami’s baseless and completely false reporting destroyed my life. I had thought of going to court against him but my lawyer advised me not to do that as there were practical possibilities of more harassment from the agencies,” said Imran who is as a Business Development Manager in Hyderabad.
Imran also said that there is not one, but thousands of Praveen Swamis, who have penetrated the system including the media, “How can you file cases against these thousands of Swamis? Look at the Hindi and the regional media and the way they violate all the ethical norms when they brand accused as terrorists. Who is going to file cases against them?” questioned Imran.
He expressed hope from the proposals of Justice Katju, the new Chairman, Press Council of India (PCI). Katju had criticised the media for branding Muslims as terrorists and their media trial in terror cases. He also proposed punishing the media houses in cases of breach of ethics as far as reporting of terror cases is concerned.
“Let’s see if Justice Katju manages to stop media from branding innocent youths as terrorists,” said Imran.
In other cases, the acquitted youths who were branded as terrorists by Praveen Swami, said they didn’t approach court against Swami’s false reporting because they didn’t want to remember the trauma and pain which the entire case brought on them.
Abdul Kaleem, who was another youth arrested in Mecca Masjid blast and who was acquitted after remaining in jail for around 18 months, said he could have gone to court as well, but it would have resulted in more fights and negativity. He didn’t pursue the case as he wanted to leave the trauma behind and start his life afresh.