By now, the list of 346 families that Bharatiya Janata Party’s Member of Parliament Hukum Singh’s presented as proof of a migration from Kairana, after facing threats from ‘Muslim gangs’, has been adequately discredited by several media outlets (including Newslaundry). Despite this, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s (RSS) mouthpiece Organiser seems intent on milking the issue for what it’s worth.
The weekly is clearly not content with the cover story from last week, which blamed the so-called “Hindu exodus” on a Muslim “demographic offensive” — even as Singh clarified that the issue was not communal. Organiser’s latest edition carries an opinion piece titled “BJP On the Media Trial”, in which the magazine puts forward its version of a media critique. The article is authored by Dr Pramod Pathak, who, according to the publication is a “Goa based freelancer”. A quick Google search led us to a LinkedIn profile of the same name and this Goa government website, which states that a Dr Pramod Pathak serves as the Member Secretary of the Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA), a public sector energy management organisation. Newslaundry attempted to verify whether the government official is indeed also the author of the Organiser article, but calls to Pathak’s official phone number went unanswered.
In his analysis of the coverage that Kairana received, Pathak appears to be aggrieved that the media actually decided to fact-check Singh’s list. Pointing out discrepancies in the list is akin to a “media trial” according to Pathak, though some would view it as journalists simply doing their jobs.
The article also claims that while the media had “statistics on their platter”, they were left dumbfounded by Singh’s claim that not a single Muslim family had migrated out of fear. Pathak’s assertion that there hasn’t been an instance of Muslims migrating because of threats is refuted by Singh in this Newslaundry interview.
In the interview, Singh mentions a Muslim businessman who had to leave Kairana as he was a victim of an extortion racket. There could be more such cases too since Singh claims that most of the businesses in Kairana have been taken over by Muslims. But even if there weren’t other instances of Muslims being forced to migrate, Singh’s sole example should be sufficient to convince Pathak, since he states in his article that “even one confession by a Muslim person especially a trader would suffice the claim that both the communities were the victims of the Muslim goons”. In his assessment of media reports, Pathak seems to have missed poor old Newslaundry out. We aren’t going to take it to heart, sir; all we suggest is that you broaden the scope of your research before making such claims.
Pathak’s other big complaint is that the media shouldn’t have interviewed Hindus with Muslims were standing around them. According to Pathak, under such circumstances, a Hindu was bound to say that he or she doesn’t feel threatened by the Muslims because they were surrounded by “Muslims conspicuous by their dress code”. This line of argument rests on the blatantly bigoted assumption that all the Muslims surrounding the subject of the interview are thugs and goons who will beat the poor Hindu the moment the camera turns away. Or, that they’re in cahoots with the real goons and will tell on the Hindus because they’re bound to be more loyal to Muslim gangsters than their neighbours. The bigotry is unsurprising – this, after all, is the Organiser – and so is the fact that it allows Pathak to disregard detailed investigations by multiple channels and publications, which concluded that while there have been migrations from the region, they are not communal by nature.
But, for Pathak, to question the communal narrative is to ignore the “Kafirophobia that breeds within the Muslim community”. The lack of subtlety when it comes to anti-Muslim vitriol isn’t surprising, but coming from someone who may be a high ranking public official is definitely worrisome.