Supreme Court notice (Mar 4) to Advani and other Sangh Parivar leaders, in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition, has once again brought them back to the limelight.
On Mar 5, almost all newspapers (at least their Delhi edition) carried related news; and hence, a good piece of article/editorial in national dailies was expected addressing the issue. But unfortunately all newspapers preferred other issues.
It is unreasonable to think why the pen of all the prominent journalists and columnists, who have ability and responsibility to write and advocate for the smooth functioning of a healthy democracy, stops writing when the accused fall to be heavy weight!
Our heads hang in shame whenever an unpleasant incident takes place in the serene environment. Not only because it brings the country a few steps back but also earns bad name globally. If we browse through the recent history we can find that some riots in the country have been so disastrous and infamous that hardly one will dare to visit the place; however, now it might be entirely calm and peaceful.
However, we have a fascinating history of Freedom of Expression and Speech. Our journalists have invariably, sometimes at their life’s stake, exposed scandals and black deeds and the black sheep around them. Only last year a series of major scams were exposed leading the accused to the bars. Now the noose is around them; this could not have been possible without the constant media focus.
On Mar 1, the Special Trial court in Godhra incident, awarded death sentence to 11 accused and life imprisonment to 20 others, while acquitting 63 others of their charges. The court termed the case as “rarest of the rare,” stressing that it deserved nothing less than death sentence. (The Asian Age, Mar 1).
Now if they had committed the crime, they deserve punishment and there should be no remorse as Islam strongly prohibits the killing of any person without lawful reasons.
The following statements from the Holy Quran demonstrate how strongly Islam prohibits murder:
“Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (Holy Quran, Chapter 4, Verse 93)
Now, the hapless, who got death sentences and life sentences, got justice and media coverage they deserved. But could the 63 others, who were acquitted after nine years in prison, delivered justice? What can compensate the social stigma, physical torture and financial loss they suffered for a role they had never played!
Most importantly no article in any prominent daily newspaper appeared advocating justice and compensation for the acquitted. This mystifying silence cannot be a good sign in the plural society.
Now, if the media professionals, journalists and columnists, along with others, keep an eye on the developments and keep advocating a spade a spade, fair judgement could be expected in all other cases in which justice is due.
Shafaque Alam is a Delhi based journalist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org