Shocking Nagaism in Dimapur with National Media at its Irresponsible Best

It is time for TRP hungry media houses to behave responsibly. A rape is a serious crime, unacceptable anyway, but it has to be followed through under due process of law and the culprit punished accordingly. No woman must misuse the law nor is the barbaric mob justice acceptable.

A day will come, I think, in near future that males will be agitating for their rights, demanding an international men’s day and a set of special laws to protect not their honour or human dignity but their life itself. Today most people are busy talking about ‪India’s Daughter, a documentary film produced by BBC on Delhi’s Nirbhaya rape-case and banned by the Indian government, but very few have time to talk about ‪‎India’s son, Syed Farid Khan (Sharifuddin Khan), lynched and killed in the most barbaric manner by a mob of 5000-7000 in Dimapur, the business centre of India’s one of the northeastern state of Nagaland on 5 March, 2015 for an alleged rape case. The 28 year old Farid was first framed for rape, claims his wife who is also a Naga woman from Sema tribe, dragged, militated and lynched in the most horrific, beastly and utterly barbaric manner and then was named as IBI (illegal Bangladeshi immigrant) by the mob, Nagaland police administration and most shockingly by the so-called mainstream media. The man was taken out from the Dimapur Central Jail, beaten, stripped completely naked, dragged up to 7 kms which caused death, kept hanging for hours over clock tower as symbol of jungle raj, selfies taken with the head-downed dead and then set on fire with clapping, uproar and full nagaism on display.

Was the victim holy? Was he innocent? We cannot claim anything with certainty. The Indian criminal court is the only right authority to pass a judgment on this in due time. But with whatever hard and circumstantial evidence available to media and us, it appears to be an extramarital consensual sex affair which went wrong with the girl’s demands not being met. The complainant girl from Sema tribe and the victim man were in relationship for years. Both families and friends knew them well. The victim married to a Naga woman from the same Sema tribe and they have a three-year-old daughter. Some even say that the victim’s wife and the complainant girl are cousin sisters. However, he was a co-accused in a rape charge, a very serious case in the present Indian penal code, arrested and was under judicial custody since 24 February, 2015. The other accused in the girl’s FIR was Angcha Chema, a local Naga boy. The case was under trial within the competent and able Indian legal system. Then how suddenly Farid alone did become the target of the Naga mob on 5th March and get a new title IBI (illegal Bangladeshi immigrant)? Was it because his name was Syed Farid Khan? Or was it because he was a Muslim, a Bengali speaking non-Naga? May be yes! Nurul Islam Laskar, executive editor of the Eastern Chronicle, an English daily from Assam, puts it here: “Give the dog a bad name and hang it, call a man Bangladeshi and you can do anything with him.

A large portion of media including the national electronic media called him ‘Bangladeshi’. Director General of Police, Nagaland, L.L. Doungel, called him an ‘Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrant (IBI)’ which the Nagaland Chief Minister, T R Zeliang, refuted later.

Now, the facts are here for you. Sharif (Farid) came from a respectable family of Bosla village in Karimganj district of Assam. His father, late Syed Hussain Khan, who worked for the Indian Air Force (for 20 years) and retired from Air Force Station, Kumbhirgram (Cachar, Assam). Sharif’s mother draws her family pension from IAF till date. Sharif’s late brother Imanuddin Khan was in Indian Army, took part in the Kargil War against Pakistan in 1999. He was injured in the war and succumbed to his injuries later. Sharif’s two other brothers are also presently serving in Indian Army – Havildar Jamaluddin Khan is in Assam Regiment, posted at Diphu and another brother, Kamaluddin Khan, is in Assam Regiment and presently posted at a location in Arunachal Pradesh. The media houses and anchors who have called Sharif a ‘Bangladeshi’ owe an apology to the nation, and they should also express regret to the deceased’s family and offer an unconditional appeal for reprieve from all who have been adversely affected and hurt by this cheap and malicious propaganda. Much credit goes to Assam’s Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, who acted swiftly and decisively. He termed Farid’s lynching and killing as barbaric and utterly unacceptable. He also strongly owned Farid as his citizen, sent Karimganj Deputy Commissioner (DC), Sanjiv Gohain Boruah, to the grieving family of Farid Khan at Bosla on 6th March and managed to airlift the coffin of the deceased from Dimapur on 7th March by a military chopper. At last, Khan was buried in Karimganj’s Bosla village at around 11 AM on Sunday, 8th March. A huge turnout was reported ay his Janaza with former minister and Karimganj (South) MLA Siddique Ahmad, All India United Democratic Front’s regional leaders and other political and religious VIPs attending. Some humane treatment, at least, the victim has received at the end.

Unconfirmed Medical report from Dimapur’s Zoin Hospital, received by some media sources says that the girl was not raped, and there was no sexual harassment but, of late, another unconfirmed report reveals there was rape. According to a news report published in the Asomiya Pratidin, the premier Assamese daily, dated 7th March, from senior journalist, Ziaur Rahman, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Dimapur, Miren Zamir confirmed that the girl was not raped. “The girl has rather blackmailed the boy for Rs 2 lakh. He didn’t pay and the rape case was filed,” local sources revealed to Eastern Crescent. Moreover, there are two video footages from the Orient Hotel’s CCTV camera, the place where according to the girl the rape took place on 23rd March evening, on air on social media sites. One is 32 second long showing the complainant girl entering the hotel alone on her own. The other is more than two minutes long where it is clearly seen that a man paid hotel charges, took receipt and after a while he was joined by the girl and another man and then all three were going out of the hotel. Nowhere in the footages had it appeared that was the girl afraid, forced or in a hurry.

Three senior officials of Dimapur, including the SP and the Central Jail Chief, were suspended and a judicial inquiry was ordered. By filing this report 24 others were arrested and police say more arrests is expected shortly from the mob.

Common people of Assam seem united, stood in solidarity with Farid Khan and are strongly agitating against Naga harassment. In the Assam – Nagaland borders it is a volatile atmosphere. Across the party line, all political leaders from Assam, except a few from BJP, have strongly condemned the incident, criticized the term IBI for a patriotic army men’s family and demanded immediate thorough enquiry into the matter. It is time people who see an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant in every Bengali speaking poor Muslim must have some sense and stop playing with fire. The bandh, called by several political, social and business organisations was total with all shops and market places closed and vehicular traffic remaining off the road, official reports from the Barak Valley said, after the incident. All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) President and Dhubri MP, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, along with his party colleague and Karimganj MP, Radheshyam Biswas, met with several union ministers in Delhi and demanded toughest punishment for the culprits of the inhuman killing and barbarism in Dimapur.

Maulana Ajmal said, “It is a total failure of the law and order situation in Nagaland for which Nagaland as well as Central Governments are fully responsible.” It is a shame that Assamese, especially Bengali speaking genuine Indian citizens are harassed in the name of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, he said. The AIUDF MLAs in Assam also demanded genuine compensation for the victim’s family and asked the Assam Chief Minister to ensure safety and security of all Assamese people living in Nagaland.

It is time for TRP hungry media houses to behave responsively. A rape is a serious crime, unacceptable anyway, but it has to be followed through under due process of law and the culprit punished accordingly. No woman must misuse the law nor is the barbaric mob justice acceptable. Farid Khan may or may not be a criminal but terming him an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant by media and vested interested political groups is utterly irresponsible and an insult to the entire Bengali speaking community of Assam. It is more injurious to the extremely patriotic Army-men family, whose eldest son is a Kargil War martyr, than the life of Farid.

*M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is Editor of Eastern Crescent and Director of Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre (MMERC), Mumbai.