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Ignore this genocide, we're secular

By Rajeev Srinivasan
January 06, 2006 19:59 IST
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The selective amnesia of the English media in India is simply breathtaking.

There appears to be a cardinal rule: Never publish anything that would be in the least bit negative about Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular; or about Christians; or about Marxists in general and the Chinese in particular.

For instance, the Chinese genocide in occupied Tibet is glossed over, and an Indian English magazine's famous editor goes on a China-sponsored tour there and writes a glowing account of how life is beautiful.

After all, it's just details that a million Tibetans have been wiped out and a lot of their women forcibly sterilised in an explicit path towards genocide.

Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China, and rose-coloured glasses redux?

When the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found two Catholic nuns guilty of crimes against humanity in June 2001, the Indian English media simply buried the story.

Here is an excerpt from the Economist magazine's report, 'Judging genocide', June 14, 2001.

On June 8th… two Roman Catholic nuns were found guilty in a different court, thousands of miles away, of complicity in the Rwandan genocide. Their trial had lasted a mere two months. Sister Maria and Sister Gertrude had handed over to their killers up to 7,000 Tutsis who were sheltering in their convent; later, they provided petrol so that militiamen could set fire to a barn in which about 500 Tutsis had taken refuge. They were sentenced to prison terms of 12 and 15 years by a jury sitting not in Africa, but in Belgium.

The atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists, including ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir, and attacks all over India killing Hindus -- note the latest attacks just before Diwali and now on the Indian Institute of Science -- are trivialised by the chatterati with the usual cant about how the terrorists are misguided youths frustrated by lack of opportunities.

It appears axiomatic that to the media, the only good Hindu is a dead Hindu.

Rajeev Srinivasan: The value of a Hindu life

This is why the attack on a Hindu temple in Dera Bugti in Balochistan in March last year got absolutely no coverage in the Indian media and did not disturb Indian society in general.

Shabana Azmi and Kuldeep Nayyar and Human Rights Watch and the rest of the human rights cottage industry were very quiet. The US Council on International Religious Freedom was thunderously silent, too, which shows yet again that their definition of 'religious freedom' is rather unique: It means the freedom of American cults to propagate their bizarre ideas.

It is not as though the information was not available. A cursory Google search brought up an Associated Press report carried by the Taipei Times ('Scores killed in rocket attack on Hindu temple', March 22, 2005), which says, among other things:

Seventeen minority Hindus were killed when their temple was hit by rockets during fighting between renegade tribesmen and security forces in a restive tribal town in southwestern Pakistan last week, a government official said yesterday.

The Daily Times of Pakistan carried a report, excerpted below:

The Jamhoori Watan Party on Thursday released a list of 61 people killed in a clash between Frontier Corps personnel and the Bugti tribesmen in Dera Bugti on March 17. Senator Amanullah Kinrani, party spokesman and president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, gave the list to reporters at a news conference. According to the list, 19 Hindu children between ages 1 and 16, three women, and 11 men were killed in the clash. Nineteen other Hindu men and five women were injured.

The victims are mostly Hindu children, who had presumably sought shelter in the temple at a time of war. Curious that the shelling just happened to hit the temple, isn't it? Since the victims were mere Hindus, the Indian English media felt free to ignore the whole episode.

Usually, when the victims are Muslims, the media does take notice. Yet they are ignoring the open rebellion in Balochistan since December last year, which is being put down violently with helicopter gunships, jet fighters, artillery and 30,000 troops, according to reports.

Why is the ever-vigilant Indian media, ready to fight for the rights of 'minorities', studiously avoiding this situation?

Those who shout loudly about alleged atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims are strangely silent about the atrocities on minority Balochi Muslims (in passing, they are similarly coy about atrocities on minority Uighur Muslims in Chinese-occupied East Turkestan, also known as Sinkiang).

There is only one possible reason -- because it would show Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf in a bad light. And we can't have that, can we?

I do believe this is the rationalisation of the 'secular progressives'.

The Balochistan story is of significant importance to India. In addition to human rights issues, the strategic Chinese-built port of Gwadar is in Balochistan, and so are important mineral deposits on the desolate Makran coast.

The Balochi rebellion may have a domino effect and other oppressed minority groups such as Sindhis and Balawaris (those who live in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) may also rise up, leading to the unravelling of the failed State of Pakistan.

There was at least one other Balochi insurrection (1973 to 1977), which was brutally put down by the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan Army. This is reminiscent of Saddam Hussein's mustard gas attacks on minority Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

George Bush, please note that your 'valued ally in the war on terror' is similarly brutalising a civilian minority, using the weapons you so generously doled out.

The news coming out of Balochistan is indeed tragic. I urge you to read a report titled 'Pakistani Army atrocities against Baloch community' carried by the Baltimore Indymedia. Warning: the photos are graphic and extremely disturbing, especially those of young children who appear to be mutilated. Some victims appear to have had their eyes gouged out.

The world cannot sit back and allow this to happen. Shame on you, the Indian English media, for ignoring this human tragedy.

Surely, even you must have the vestiges of what must be called journalistic ethics -- for lack of a better term?

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Rajeev Srinivasan