It was during a chat with a friend that the Gujarat Encounter issue came up. Police had killed 4 people, whom the police suspect to be Lashkar e taiba militants, who were planning to kill Gujarat Chief minister, Narendra modi. One of them was Ishrat Jahan, a college student hailing from Mumbra, near Mumbai. I had seen the report earlier in Star news, where the quality of the reporting was horrible enough. Instead of finding why Ishrat went to Gujarat, and what could be her connections to the slain suspected terrorists, the news team was asking local people her college attendance and how good she was at studies.
From whatever news I read on the web also, the impression was that Gujarat police had killed 4 innocents, just by accusing them to be associated with LeT. Now the media has broadcast this version all over. Now I dont underestimate the power of media, based on which several people form thier own opinions. But I found such sort of reporting a really bad example. My friend also held the same opinion under the media influence, which I wanted to counter. I didnt have the full data to counter him, so instead said that I will read through all the latest news and post it as a blog entry. Here is what I had found after reading through the news items.
These were the headlines that I saw in the reports.
Gujarat Encounter: Killed Girl Not Linked With Terrorist Outfit: CB
Gujarat police mum on Ahmedabad encounter
LeT ‘encounter’: Maharashtra govt orders probe
Gujarat encounter gets political twist as Cong steps in
M for Modi, M for murder plot
Gujarat encounter: Laloo demands Modi’s arrest
Tension in Mumbra after Ishrat’s burial
Ishrat Jahan was framed
Ishrat: IB backs police version
Javed hosted Pak national, confesses wife
Thane shutdown as Ishrat’s body is brought home
Israt was in love with LeT man: IB official
Ishrat buried amid tension
Javeed’s father believes ‘encounter’ was fake, seeks CBI probe
This is the synopsis of what I had found reading the news reports
Four people were killed in encounter at Ahmedabad, who were suspected to be terrorists linked to LeT. Out of the 4 people killed, 2 were pakistani nationals, and Gujarat police have contacted the Pakistani Embassy to claim their bodies. The other 1 male member killed was a person from kerala, who got converted to Islam after a love marriage 10 years back. The remaining lone female person who was also killed – Ishrat Jahan, was a teenage college student, who stayed in mumbra.
The initial reports suggested that Gujarat police might have killed innocents. Congress opposition leader in Gujarat didnt waste time accusing Narendra Modi of staging the event to create sympathy. Our own Laloo prasad yadav demanded Modi’s arrest, and media had made the public believe that it was all staged. One indian express article went to the extent to give their headlines as “M for Modi, M for murder plot”, even before they have verified the whole facts. Even Mumbai Crime branch reported to press that they didnt find any evidence linking Ishrat to the gang that was killed.
It was only later that IB reports came, that suggested that Isharat had links with LeT, and was on her first mission. IB had reported this immediately to the Mumbai as well as Gujarat police, and eventually the encounter took place. But the damage has been done, “Thane shutdown as Ishrat’s body is brought home” and “Thousands turn out to bid Ishrat farewell” told the journalists, further projecting the image that the police did a heinous crime, even before they could lay their hands on facts of the case. Media indeed wields a lot of power.
Since Godhra incident and the ensuing riots happened, media has ensured that any news item that is related from Gujarat is anti-muslim, anti-minority, and how Gujarat is becoming a fascist state. There has been no thought of verifying facts and analysing information without bias.
ps: To state the obvious, I do condemn what happened at Godhra and the ensuing riots in Gujarat. I do think that inquiry should be done as to why there was lawlessness and the responsible people should be brought to book. But I dont agree with the jaundice eyed bias against the Gujarat Government and Modi for all the incidents happening in Gujarat.
pps: There was one report, which I found later that deals with the same matter.