The Indian media’s subtle propagation of Hindu hatred isn’t limited to far-left outlets like The Wire and Scroll — it’s also a regular practice of more mainstream publications.
Yesterday, Times of India published an article with the headline ‘Lucknow: Tantrik arrested for sexual assault after video goes viral.’ But when people clicked on it, the article went on to reveal in the second paragraph that the accused’s name was Nasir. ‘Police said a video showing the accused Nasir aka Babaindulging in an indecent act with a woman went viral on Wednesday night after which a police team nabbed Nasir, recorded statements of locals and booked him,’ the article said.
Now it’s strange why the Times of India would choose to use the word ‘Tantrik’ for a man named Nasir. As per Wikipedia, Tantra, from which the word tantrik is derived, ‘denotes the esoteric tradition of Hinduism and Buddhism that developed in India.’ The word Tantra can also refer to either Hindu or Buddhist religious texts. Most importantly, people overwhelmingly associate the word tantrik with someone who is a practitioner of Hinduism or Buddhism.
Times of India also chose to hide the picture of the ‘tantrik’. In the viral video, Nasir’s photos had been widely circulated, which showed that he didn’t look like most people would expect a tantrik to look. But Times of India carried no picture of the ‘tantrik’.
By referring to the man as a Tantrik in the headline, the Times of India tried to give the impression that the man accused of sexual assault was Hindu. A very small fraction of people click on links and read beyond the headlines, and most readers would’ve been left with the impression that a Hindu man had committed the crime, while the actual identity of the accused would’ve remain hidden.
This isn’t the first time that the Indian media has passed off a man of a different faith as a ‘tantrik’ — it’s been a regular practice over the years by a variety of media outlets, who’ve also used words like Swami, or shown featured images of Hindu saints when the accused was Muslim. More interestingly, this obfuscation only seems to happen when the person is question is accused of a heinous crime, and not when the article speaks of something positive. But social media has allowed people to catch Indian media in their act, and call them out in their agenda of spreading Hindu hatred.