Naming Muslim and Unnaming Hindu Culprits; Dirty Display in Reporting and Reacting to Crime

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Sami Ahmad

NEW DELHI—The naming and ‘unnaming’ the religion of the culprits and its dirty display in reporting and reacting to crime once again came to the fore on November 28 as yet another case of murder and chopping off body was witnessed in New Delhi where according to news agency ANI, “A woman along with her son arrested by Crime Branch in Delhi’s Pandav Nagar for murdering her husband. They chopped off the body in several pieces, kept them in the refrigerator, and used to dispose of pieces in the nearby ground: Delhi Police Crime Branch.”

The dirty trick in reporting this ghastly murder is that first, it did not name the culprits, and then it was put in a manner that the agency can say later that they were only quoting what the police had said.

But when ANI was criticized for not identifying the culprits by their names while it is too quick to name the culprits if they are Muslims, it came up with this so-called update, “Delhi: Accused woman Poonam & son Deepak arrested for killing her husband Anjan Das at Trilokpuri residence, chopping off his body & disposing of pieces in the nearby ground: Delhi Police Crime Branch.”

Again, this information came in quotes to suggest that ANI did not name the culprits as it did not know it and reported the development as the Delhi police provided the information. 

When fact-checker Mohammed Zubair pointed to this deliberate attempt to hide the names of Hindu culprits while exposing the same in the case of Muslims, a bitter debate started about it. Zubair wrote, “Update after getting called out.”

 The moot question was and remained: Should there be a hurry to tell the culprit’s religion?

One may agree or disagree with it, but one must be told that there is a dirty game of exposing the religion of the culprits and criminals selectively, followed by the proportion of reaction to the crime also.

 One Twitter user, Arhum Siddiqui, wrote, “These crimes are tragic. How could humans be so cruel? More tragic and saddening is that as soon as we see news like this, we start looking for names/religions. This was not the case a few years ago. What has gone wrong, I wonder.”

 Another user wrote, “CM of Assam, please use this too for the next elections rally.” This is the point where the reaction from our rulers comes under question. It may be recalled what the chief minister of Assam, Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, said about the Shraddha murder case and culprit Aftab Amin Punawala during his election rally in Gujarat. A piece by India Tomorrow discussed this. If you need Modi for Aftab, whom do you need to stop Nitesh or Shyamali? 

Why this naming of the culprit matter could be understood by the following two tweets.

 1. “Good to know they have some names, like Poonam and Deepak.”

 2. “Imagine if it was some Khan duo. The whole media would be prancing around shouting JUSTICE, JUSTICE.”

 There is a sense of dirtiness in naming the culprit and reacting to the crime based on the religion of the criminals. This includes both the right-wing Hindutva politicians and the media.

 There happened many ‘murder and chopping off’ cases in the last few days, but one would find every detail only about what, when, and how Aftab Amin Poonawala did to Shraddha Walker after killing her.

 Television and Print media, particularly the Hindi media, did not care much about other such crimes where the culprits are not Muslims.

 Two other tweets explain the problem with ANI. Intekhab Alam wrote, “Hello ANI now u r wrong earlier u were right. No need to mention the name in a headline; this should be in the content of the news.” errOrnab एररनब reacted with this, “ANI already messed up a long time, why these news agencies changed the right practice of not naming the accused in 1st place just for some attention. it is now irreversible even if

 they wanted to.”

 This is clear that the same agency tells not to tell the name, thus exposing religion, in the headline, but it acts differently with a different religion. In fact, ANI hardly forgets to use terms like ‘Muslim man’ whenever there is negative news.

 The headline of the Hindutva right-wing propaganda website Opindia further explains it: Delhi: Mother-son duo kill father, chops and stores body parts in fridge, arrested (opindia.com).

 But this dirty play of naming and unnaming the religion of the culprit by the so-called liberal television channel NDTV is soon to be grabbed by one of the wealthiest Indian men in the world. Professor Ashok Swain wrote on November 24, “For Indian media, if the murderer is a Hindu, he becomes a Man. If he is a Muslim, he becomes Aftab!” Here is the link to NDTV’s news: UP Man Kills Wife Suspecting Infidelity, Chops Up Body: Police (ndtv.com).

 This news item does contain the names of the culprits, but there is an ‘unnaming’ in the headline, which many believe is due to the culprits’ words not being Muslim.

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