4.5.10

Media Frenzy and the Kasab Case

Media Frenzy and the Kasab Case
by Farzana Versey

Google maps would never have imagined that they would rescue two Indians framed in the 26/11 attacks. Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Sheikh are free. The judge, amazingly, used their own arguments as to why the LeT would rely on crude maps allegedly supplied by them when more sophisticated versions were available.

The verdict might seem to give them relief, but this is not the only thing they were accused of. If their role was all that important that they could be get the death sentence, then what about the other accusations? How have they just vanished? Was there any other logistical support? If not, then why were they being tried under various sections of the IPC, Passport Act, Foreigners Act, the CrPC, Indian Arms Act, Bombay Police Act, Indian Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Customs Act, Indian Railways Act, Prevention to Damage of Public Properties Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act?

Ajmal Kasab has been convicted on almost all charges. "You have been found guilty of waging war against India, and killing people at CST (train station), killing government officials and abetting the other nine terrorists," Judge M.L. Tahaliyani announced his verdict.

On the day of the verdict, a large advertisement with a red background gave the summons to an audience to watch the "non-stop live coverage” of the Kasab court conviction. The media’s role in making this the ‘biggest terrorist attack’ has to be taken into account.

That Kasab would be convicted was a foregone conclusion. That he will keep two nations on edge is also known. That it will feed a media frenzy that has been going on since November 26, 2008, is the story that will not be told, because the storytellers are the ones who need to be made answerable.

Why was the media not held culpable when reports during the attack clearly mentioned that Kasab’s leaders were monitoring the whole action on television? “Fauj aa rahi hai, dekhte raho... cover karo...” referring to the arrival of commandos. These guys who kept up a battle for 60 hours had to be given a blow-by- blow account by their bosses about the arrival of commandos? It begs the question – who did they think the gun-battles were with?

The electronic media had wanted to transform themselves into heroes, not realising that they were exposing the citizens to further damage. No TV channel had captured an image of Kasab. They merely replayed the same pictures, making it seem as though there was new fire, another gunshot at the landmark hotel site which they had converted into a war zone.

Even worse has been the insensitivity that they managed to camouflage with superficial concern. One channel had declared last year to be the year of the Liberal Muslim.

They need a totem and they found it in the youngest witness. Here is one report:

‘Ajmal Kasab and his cohorts may have shaken almost the entire city during those dark days at the end of November in 2008, but a young girl held her nerve and nailed him in court six months later when she identified him as one of the CST attackers. “Kasab should be hanged. When I identified him and narrated the incident to the court, Kasab didn’t dare look at me. I do not fear anything and will stand with the prosecution till Kasab is punished,’’ said the girl, who is now 11 years old. “You can click my photo and show my face in the paper. I don’t fear anyone”.’

This sort of soap opera bravado merely makes her a pawn in the larger game. There is no excuse for what happened, and nothing can take away from the girl’s suffering. She was a victim. Now she is being victimised in other ways.

The police had not made an application for her to appear as witness; her father Natwarlal asked the court to do so. It was he who took over at the hearing. Kasab’s lawyer at the time, Abbas Kazmi, objected to her testifying as it would emotionally surcharge the atmosphere, but the judge said she was a ‘natural witness’. The defence would obviously want to ask inconvenient questions and Kazmi could not go ahead after two queries. Let us not forget that he was appointed by the Indian judiciary. Kasab had not hired him. If at all the girl’s eye-witness account was crucial, it could have been done without the media glare.

In the run-up to the day of judgement she said, “I do not want people to become a victim of terror. I will join an English-medium school, study hard and get into the police force. I want to end terrorism and hatred. I want peace everywhere.” I wonder who her handlers are.

It is unlikely that Kasab will be hanged. This will give an opportunity for those who had never seen blood to come forward to seek justice. The 26/11 industry is a flourishing business. We had the case of the NRI who even went on to get an award for bravery by lying about his role in saving people. He managed to collect funds for rehabilitating victims when all he and a few others had done was managed to scale down the windows of the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Such has become the face of terrorism as understood by the urban elite and consolidated by a shameless media.

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Published in Countercurrents, May 4

10 comments:

  1. Oh how her heart bleeds for countryman kasab...

    look there....bullet proof vests...

    because, as we all know, the big thing in the mumbai terrorist attacks isn't the fact that her paki brethren killed a bunch of residents of the city she lives in..it's the buletproof vests...

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  2. Arjun:

    There has not been a word about BP vests here.

    Please give us your insights on this issue, esp the role of the media.

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  3. I watched some of this on TV and the girl was interviewed and her father was pushing her.Kasab is 51 on row so it will take time even if they give the hanging verdict.Your covering from 2008 was detailed and interesting

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  4. KB:

    I did not watch the live coverage but caught the late night news. It was beyond disgusting to see this kid.

    Even worse was how Yasmin Ansari, wife of one of those acquitted was questioned. First the anchor asked his lawyer if he thought it was the right verdict!

    Then Yasmin was asked if she knew about her husband's work and the made, obviously, said she did not think so...she meant, as was later repeated, that she did not think her husband was involved. It was taken to convey that she did not know about his activities and she said, I don't know about his work...Soli Sohrabji who was also interviewed in fact commented on this line of questioning and misinterpretation.

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  5. FV:"If their role was all that important that they could be get the death sentence, then what about the other accusations? How have they just vanished? Was there any other logistical support?"

    If the court acquitted these two alleged co-conspirators, then the reason in this case seems to be that evidence collected by the Police force was insufficient to find them guilty. This happens all the time, much as it might seem like a travesty of justice -- the point is that the police force is supposed to do a proper job of forensic science and investigation so as to not allow any clever lawyers to blow holes in the public prosecutor's case.

    If the Pub. Procecutor Mr. Nikam took the risk of adding evidence that was not rock solid, and it blows up in court in his face by being proven as weak, then it casts a pall on even Kasab's verdict (even though there is incontrovertible proof of Kasab on TV and there is sufficient evidence against him).

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  6. Well Kasab has got the death sentence and it will be a long wait.

    Incidentally, it is a known fact that cops regularly bundle up people to meet their 'targets'. This is apropos of the acquittal.

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  7. I am not in favor of Kasab's execution -- he is much more useful alive as a poster boy for terrorism perpetrated on Indian citizens. Leave him in solitary confinement for the next 300 years where he can't kill anyone or get killed by his prisonmates.

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  8. Since Farzana is so fond of quoting Karkare's wife, wonder why she's silent on her calls to execute Kasab in public...

    Of course..we all know the reason..FV doesn't care about Karkare or his wife...she only uses them to deflect attention away from her fellow countryman who's now going to hang..

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  9. Arjun, Repeatedly calling FV a Pakistani and trying to argue "guilt by association" is just a lazy/fallacious argument. Surely there are better ways to argue to make your point?

    Ms. Karkare is interested in to get justice for her husband and will go to any lengths as she wants to honour his memory unlike all the ingrates in the rest of the populace with the attention span of gnat, so if there is one person who can be counted on to push the envelope to get such justice, it is her.

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  10. Al:

    I am against capital punishment in principle.

    Kavita Karkare is not only fighting for the honour of her husband but questioning the same forces he belonged to.

    I am afraid your questions to the person here will fall on deaf ears because one attack can and does have many issues attached to it. I have posted a blog on that.

    I do not need to deflect form any matter; I have said things upfront and revealed different aspects of this case in the past year and half almost.

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