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Varun was harsh, but so is truth

Varun was harsh, but so is truth

Author: Kanchan Gupta
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 22, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/164149/Varun-was-harsh-but-so-is-truth.html

The media-driven furore over what is being described as Mr Varun Gandhi's 'hate speech' deserves to be countered with matching crudity: If he is 'communal', then his critics are biased against Hindus. Nothing else explains why newspapers and 24x7 news channels should twist the entire issue out of context and plaster it all over their front pages and feature it on prime time news bulletins, while ignoring the basic rule of responsible journalism - facts are sacred, opinion is free.

Since the facts have been swamped by jaundiced opinion, it would be in order to place them on record. Mr Varun Gandhi, son of Ms Maneka Gandhi and the late Sanjay Gandhi, is an articulate young man who will be contesting the coming Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh as a BJP candidate. As a prelude to his election campaign - he is yet to file his nomination papers - he visited the constituency, till now represented by Ms Maneka Gandhi, for what is known as 'jan sampark', or mass contact, meetings to familiarise himself with the voters and vice-versa. This is a legitimate exercise. Over March 6 and 8, he addressed a series of meetings.

On March 16th, a CD mysteriously surfaced in the offices of news channels, which was promptly aired without any effort being made to verify the authenticity of its contents. The CD contained audio-visual snippets of what Mr Gandhi is alleged to have said during a community meeting (as opposed to an 'election rally') at Barkheda on March 7. The aired version of the recording showed Mr Gandhi as saying:

"This is not the (Congress's election symbol) 'hand', this is the hand of the 'lotus' (the BJP's symbol). It will cut the throat of (derogatory reference to Muslims) after the elections… Varun Gandhi will cut… Cut that hand, cut it… cut it… Go to your villages and give the call that all Hindus must unite to save this area from becoming Pakistan… Is it not true… that if (a woman) is asked her name and she says Bimla Devi, she is told we'll see, we'll think (about giving Government aid), give us Rs 5,000 first… But if her name is Saira Bano or whatever begum Hukum Begum… I don't even know… These people have such scary-sounding names… Karimullah, Mazharullah… If you ever encountered them at night, you'd be scared… I have a sister… there was a pamphlet with pictures of all the candidates… so this child told me, 'I didn't know that Osama bin Laden is contesting from your area'. I told her, 'America couldn't get Osama, but Varun Gandhi is going to get a lot of people after the elections'."

There were subsequent reports in media that at an earlier public meeting, on March 6 at Dalchand, Mr Gandhi was equally 'communal'. He was accused of telling his audience, "Agar kisi galat tatv ke aadmi ne kisi Hindu pe haath uthaaya ya Hindu'on ke upar yeh samajh key ki yeh kamzor hain, unke peechey koi nahi hai... Hindu'on ke upar haath uthaaya, main Gita ki kasam khaake kehta hoon ki main us haath ko kaat daaloong (If some wrong elements lift a hand against Hindus, or think Hindus are weak, there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the Bhagavad Gita that I will cut off that hand)." He ended his speeches with "Jai Sri Ram" and to thunderous applause.

But did Mr Gandhi really say all this? Yes, by his own admission, he did say most of it. But not quite the way it has been presented by the media, and definitely not the way the alleged recording purports it to be. A simple analysis of the recording contained in the CD, which was strangely circulated after more than a week, shows that it has 17 'cuts'; that the sound level dips to low resolution, and there is heavy echo at the crucial point where he allegedly makes a derogatory reference to Muslims. Each of the quotes have been clearly taken out of context.

As for his call that "all Hindus must unite to save this area from becoming Pakistan", that a Hindu woman would find it difficult to get Government aid, his reference to Osama bin Laden look-alikes, his pledge to stand by Hindus against 'galat tatv ke aadmi', and his swearing by the Bhagavad Gita, there is really little to cavil against. 'Secular' State Governments have been prompt in taking their cue from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 'Muslims first' policy. Newspapers in the forefront of the bash Varun campaign have reported how Muslim victims of last year's flood were lavished with aid while others were left to fend for themselves. Mr Ram Vilas Paswan would address election meetings accompanied by an Osama bin Laden look-alike till the man, Maulana Meraj Khalid Noor, dumped him for Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav for reasons that do not merit elaboration. Mr Gandhi was addressing a community gathering, not an election rally; he felt the people of Barkheda and Dalchand needed to be reassured that he would protect their interests; and, he spoke the truth rather bluntly, perhaps too harshly.

Before we go into the reason why he said what he is now being pilloried for, here are two questions for you to ponder over: Are we now living in such dreadful times that we cannot mention the Bhagavad Gita in public discourse lest we be condemned as 'communal' by newspapers and news channels which couldn't stop pointing out, ever so admiringly and approvingly - some would say ecstatically - that Mr Barack Hussein Obama took his oath of office by placing his left hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible? And, is it now an unpardonable offence to say 'Jai Sri Ram'?

Anybody who has any knowledge of Pilibhit knows that Hindus in that district - in fact, all over what is referred to as Rohilkhand - are increasingly feeling under siege. The district stretches along India's border with Nepal. Mirza Dilshad Beg, the Nepali politician who fronted for Dawood Ibrahim and was on the payroll of Pakistan's ISI, regularly used the Pilibhit route to funnel fake currency into India and supply arms and explosives to terrorists. Beg may be dead, murdered by his ilk in 1998, but the supply chain remains undisrupted. Thousands of cows are smuggled across the border to be slaughtered; cow slaughter in Pilibhit and adjacent districts is now a common phenomenon with the administration loath to take any action.

In recent months, there have been instances of Hindu women being molested and raped. This point has been disputed by the Indian Express which says there are no police records to prove it. Yet, on umpteen occasions the newspaper has, as have others, pointed out how the police in rural India refuse to register cases of rape, how families are terrorised into not pressing charges, and how the fear of social stigma forces victims of rape and their families to keep silent.

The 'secular' media hasn't heard of Sonu Kashyap who was murdered on October 21 last year. "Five unidentified Muslims" were accused of murdering him. The administration did nothing. On October 23, anger turned into street protests, led by a former BJP legislator and Minister, Mr Ram Saran Verma. He was promptly arrested and since then has been detained under the National Security Act. Beesalpur police station in-charge Pervez Miyan brazenly defends the continued detention of Mr Verma.

The Indian Express, however, is not alone. The Times of India's online edition had two ads promoting itimes, its social networking group: 'Snub Varun Gandhi' and 'Join Sanjay Dutt fan club'. It would appear that in this wondrous land of ours, where rules are being increasingly set by a dissolute media, it is now politically correct to be a fan of a man who has been held guilty of aiding the terrorists who bombed Mumbai in 1993. NDTV began by referring to Mr Gandhi's "speech", and then switched over to "hate speech". Who's to tell our 'secular' media it is horribly wrong? Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


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