news Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 05:30
Mohammed Irshad  “My son is not someone who would ever do a thing like this. He was going to Dubai to work. It is not possible that he would have explosive substances in his parcel. If by any chance he has done something wrong, punish him by all means, we don’t have any objection,” a deeply hurt, but dignified Haji M K told reporters.  Next to him, officials of the bomb disposal squad who had arrived from Bangalore examined the parcel seized from his son Abdul Khader at Mangalore International Airport. At this point, maybe the authorities looked upon even this old man with suspicion. Security personnel had found a tablet in the luggage of Abdul Khader, a resident of Uppala in Kasargod district (Kerala), who was to board a 11.15 pm flight for Dubai. When he arrived at the airport along with his family at around 9.30 pm to check in for the flight on September 13, a Saturday, security personnel inspected his luggage. Among his luggage, was a parcel containing a tablet with a battery that appeared to have been damaged and a can of hydrogen peroxide, a religious book in Arabic, and some eatables. Finding the parcel suspicious, they took him in for questioning.  Some of the contents of the parcel Abdul Khader was carrying. Just for this much, he became a suspected terrorist. The police initially looked at him with suspicion because he had suspicious objects, because he had a suspicious looking tablet and his name was Abdul Khader. Security personnel immediately shifted the material to the outer portion of the airport with full security.  Khader, who was a suspected terrorist for the airport security personnel, became a suspected terrorist with a connection to Syria for the media. He became the suspected mastermind of an airport blast. This was the tone of some of the news reports about Khader and his detention by the police for questioning.  Early on Sunday morning, the Bajpe jurisdictional police brought in Husainar and his daughter, Khader’s neighbours in for questioning. But the reality was something else. Khader was not a terrorist as the media or the police suspected him to be. He had not formed a plan to blow up any plane.  Some of the contents of the parcel Abdul Khader was carrying. Khader, who works in Dubai, had only come home to his house in Muttagate, Uppala village last month. He had even gotten married during this time. He was at the airport to head back to work in Dubai as his month-long leave was up.  Khader’s neighbour Husainar’s son had sent his tablet to his family in Uppala to repair, and Husainar was sending it back to his son through Khader. Along with the tablet, Husainar had also sent a bottle of hydrogen peroxide which is used to clean wounds.  Security personnel had detained Khader because the two objects had been sent together and they suspected that they could be explosive substances.  The media reported the incident as the arrest of a suspected terrorist who had plans to blow up the airport. Because of this, there was a lot of confusion at the airport, and security was increased. At 1 pm on Monday, the bomb disposal squad finally confirmed that the materials were nothing but a battery and not explosives.  Abdul Khader is not the only one who has been branded a suspected terrorist by suspicion of the police and the haste of the media, only to lead dark lives behind bars and one day be found innocent.  Some of the contents of the parcel Abdul Khader was carrying. In the haste to break the news first, television channels have made such errors and continue to do so. The situation arises because of the competition within the media. It is not the news which is important, but the elements in it which would secure TRP ratings for the news channel which become important. Terrorism provides easy fodder for such stories, and a story like this will sell like hot cakes, if an individual, especially a Muslim man is arrested for being a suspected terrorist, it is enough. He will then be associated with SIMI, ISI, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the newly formed IS terrorist group. In such a scenario, what his plans might have been gain more currency what his plans actually were. How much in these reports is true and how much false is of less importance than how they will sell, with the consequence that many innocent people are being portrayed as terrorists. The feeling that they are being targeted for no reason has further fuelled fundamentalism among Muslims, which is a dangerous development. The police should not give any opportunity for such a situation.  This said, it is not possible to accept the argument that in all cases the police arrest innocent Muslim youth. In some cases the accused may have some connection with terrorist groups. What needs to change is the mindset with which the police and the media look at terrorists.  Terrorists do not have religion. In India, Muslims have been arrested on charges of terrorism, so have Hindus. Sikhs too have been known to participate in such activities. Instead of looking at a terrorist on the basis of religion and then deciding what he/she has done wrong, we need to simply look at a terrorist as a terrorist. To achieve this, the government, the police department and the media, all need to behave responsibly. Mohammed Irshad is a journalist with a television channel. (This was originally written in Kannada.) Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.
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