By Arshad Mohsin for TwoCircles.net
The power of mainstream media in spreading information and forming public opinions cannot be underestimated. We all know that when it comes to forming public opinion, the Times of India plays an extremely important role. But what of the times when this power is misused by journalists and powerful media houses? October 28 was one such day for me.
For the readers, it may have been the story of a small brawl in a mosque over a speech on Friday in a local mosque, but for me and my family, the news report has had an unprecedented impact. I and my family feel threatened, scared and since the report, our lives have been traumatic. A journalist of the Times Of India has used his media clout to settle personal scores and got me booked under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code.
Allow me to explain.
My name is Arshad Mohsin and I am an NRI living and working in Kuwait for the last 17 years, managing IT departments, writing language learning books, inventing life saving devices, trading, and teaching language and business skills in various institutions internationally. My books are available on Amazon.com and my inventions can be seen here on YouTube.
Despite living abroad, most of my work is India-centric. The pathetic educational and economic situation of Muslims back home has kept me in constant pain. I believe that the flaws in their moral and educational upbringing have descended them to hopelessness and backwardness. Whenever I visit India, I am invited by religious heads of the Mohallas to talk to my Muslim brothers in mosques wherever I go to pray. Mosques in Islam have been the centre of learning and enlightenment since the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). My hometown Gaya in Bihar is one such place where I have been invited by a number of religious heads to give Friday speeches and share my reformative views with the worshippers in their respective mosques. There have been changes, I am told, in people’s perception of education and religion since I began sharing my views through my speeches directly derived from the Holy Quran and the revered Ahadees.
On Oct 27, 2017, I was called by a senior citizen and ex-secretary of the white house compound mosque Sarwar Khan to deliver a speech nearly 25 minutes before the Friday Khutba routinely delivered by the respected Imam. The Imam himself had visited Khan’s house to invite me to the speech. Other Imams of various mosques in Gaya had been inviting me for a Friday speech in the previous weeks and this one was nothing new. Passing on the knowledge of Quran and Ahadees to your fellow Muslim brothers is mandatory in Islam and I was just obeying the commands of the Holy prophet (peace be upon him) in doing so. This time, however, it was an entrapment in the waiting, although nothing untoward happened during the speech which was followed by the Friday prayer led by the Imam. The speech was thought-provoking and the worshippers: mostly educated professionals, doctors, engineers, teachers and traders who met me after the prayers expressed their gratitude for sharing my views in the light of Quran and Ahadees.
But before the Imam could raise his hands for dua (supplication), a sudden voice of anger tore through the lines. It was the voice of Abdul Qadir, a senior correspondent of The Times of India covering Gaya, shouting at me at the top of his lung, threatening me in the most vicious and humiliating way possible. It was so disrespectful that many worshippers rose from their place and shouted him down, reminding him of how he should behave with a guest speaker. The Imam who was holding the mike asked Abdul Qadir to maintain the sanctity of the mosque and behave. Seeing a total public support in my favour enraged him and he left the mosque with a threat to teaching me a lesson.
The revenge was due and with the mighty Times Of India at his disposal, Abdul Qadir fires his first salvo, a front-page news full of half-truths, distorted facts and incriminating rumours about me and my speech was published the next morning on Oct 28, 2017. Here is a list of his carefully crafted false accusations as published in The Times Of India, whereby he tried to destroy my credibility.
Let us start with the headline. Abdul Qadir calls me a Kuwait-based cleric which I am not. In fact, I am not even distantly connected to Islamic clergy. I am just a researcher, writer and an inventor toiling for the educational and moral upliftment of my community. In fact, in an interview in 1996 The Times of India Patna edition rightly calls me an inventor, a science graduate and an English language teacher of scientific temperament. Abdul Qadir in his fit of revengeful anger and contrary to TOI’s own findings paints me as someone against mathematics, chemistry and Zoology with an anti-science regressive ideology who could push Muslims further down the gutters of ignorance and illiteracy.
As for the mention of Darwin’s theory in my speech that men evolved from monkeys is universally rejected by the followers of Islam because Quran clearly states in Surah 94 Ayah 4 That “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds/forms”. In my speech, I had mentioned the same ayah of the Holy Quran and reminded people of their declared faith in Quran and not in theories contrary to the scripture. I never said that anyone who studies Darwin automatically ceases to be a Muslim. That was never my intention, nor am I someone to certify who is a true Muslim or not. However, clearly, this did not matter to the reporter from ToI.
Abdul Qadir’s subheading is thus factually incorrect and is intended not only to malign me but also to defile the sanctity of the mosque where Quran was being discussed among the faithful.
As for some of the elements of the periodic table like Thorium and Titanium being named after the Greek and Scandinavian mythological Gods and idols, I had questioned the motives behind such nomenclature by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) which has deliberately neglected the great body of work done by the famed father of Chemistry Jabir Ibn Hayyan. Even the contribution of the great Indian civilization in the field of chemistry has been totally wiped out by the IUPAC. The discourse was totally around the dominance of western power over our scientific life whereas Abdul Qadir turned it around to a comment on idol worshipping and went to town with it. His innuendo imputes me of being against idol worshipers and thus attracts section 499 of Indian Penal code against me.
Another day, another incriminating allegation
On Oct 29, 2017, Abdul Qadir’s defamatory allegations touch another milestone. This time he calls me a radical who is asking children to stay away from schools. The mention of Assuffa Islamic Education as a radical outfit seeking Muslims to denounce schools is yet another lie. Anyone who is a Muslim knows that the first Ayah of the Holy Quran is about the importance and significance of reading and learning. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked to read and teach his followers to read, write and get enlightened. The Holy prophet (peace be upon him) therefore chose to educate his companions in a place of the Holy Mosque of Madinah and which was called Assuffa Islamic education, it’s the prophetic design of teaching and educating the ummah. It’s the traditional Islamic way of education, knowledge of Islam spread to the world from Assuffa and the companion who narrated the maximum number of ahadees named Abu Huraira was actually a student of the prophetic centre of learning called Assuffa. Assuffa, as mentioned in my speech, was meant to revive the prophetic way of education.
Abdul Qadir, however, very carefully and strategically gave it a radical colour while feigning innocence in an attempt to make as many people as possible think his effort is based not on his vindictiveness but an upstanding concern of radicalisation and extremism. This was his malicious attempt to play with the sensibilities of the security agencies and governmental authorities and use their empathy and moral to turn them against me.And it worked. Constant media report forced the hon’ble IG police Nayyar Hasnain Khan to take cognizance and order a probe. In the absence of any complaint by any member of the Muslim community, the Investigative Officer himself turned an informant and wrote in his FIR of some sort of religious outrage in the white house mosque during my speech, a purported scene which he himself didn’t witness in the first place. Now as the FIR has been registered and my smearer is at large with his clout in district administration, I am sure the powerful journalist Abdul Qadir will stop at nothing until my whole life is destroyed.
What I am calling into question is the dubious role of The Times Of India in carrying a factually incorrect piece of news and not responding to my email seeking an apology and a rebuttal to be published by them. Is this the ethical standard of the mighty Times Of India which we have grown up reading? Or is this is a life-ruining betrayal by the fourth pillar of Indian democracy? In an effort to tell the world the truth about this smear campaign I went and spoke to all available media persons in Gaya. Bytes were taken even by ETV, my concern was recorded but none dared to publish against such a heavyweight journalist of the mighty Times Of India, said one of the journalists of a leading daily at Gaya. You can’t win against such a giant media house like The Times of India, said a famous media consultant from Patna.
True, I can’t win against the Times of India. But I am not fighting with the ToI in the first place. I even sent an email to the resident editor to stop Abdul Qadir from bringing factually incorrect news to the pages of such a prestigious newspaper like the ToI. Sought an apology or else Qadir will face defamation case. This was an innocent rejoinder to me which it seems has angered even the resident editor who seems to have thrown his weight behind my tormentor. Is the Times of India proud of framing helpless, innocent Muslims just because they have a different opinion on education?
But the truth has its own power. I am writing this piece to speak the truth, to defend my way of life, my liberty of expression which the constitution of India (under article 19) ensures to all its citizen. My children are small and accosted by mischief mongers. My family is undergoing unprecedented torment. The district judge who could have heard my bail plea is yet to join at Gaya and there is no relief for me under section 41 despite my wife’s tearful plea to both the hon’ble IG Nayyar Hasnain Khan and the Hon’ble SSP Garima Mallik. Does this not remind the readers of the tearful faces of Zakia Jafri and Fatima Nafis the mother of JNU’s missing Muslim boy Najeeb?
I am not seeking clemency because it’s a fight for justice. I am scared that with the mighty Times of India behind him, Abdul Qadir and his gang can cause immense harm to my vulnerable wife and small children who are already scared to see their father suddenly being demonised, harassed, threatened and being denied the opportunity to speak his innocence to the world. The highest rate of Muslim incarceration in India should certainly be a matter of concern for anyone reading this piece. Please help me fight this battle for justice, with your support I can!