Friday, December 3, 2010


In Defence of K.K. Shahina

Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

29th November 2010

[Press Release]

That security agencies were wary of even exploring the Hindutva angle in blasts across the countries—even in face of hard evidence—is now an established fact. Islam and terrorism were almost natural corollaries. Few in the media questioned the round up and mass detention of Muslim youth that followed after each blast. Indeed, police theories were peddled as the truth, and detention and torture passed for investigation. Revelations earlier this year that Hindutva groups may have been behind Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer and Samjhauta blasts should embarrass many ‘investigative reporters’. In all of these cases, large sections of the media had chosen simply to repeat verbatim the security agencies’ claims about the involvement of HUJI, Let or SIMI.

There were on the other hand, at least some journalists who refused to surrender their critical faculties to the tidal wave of patriotic hysteria that rose after each blast. K.K. Shahina is the foremost among them. In her latest expose in Tehelka, Shahina shows how the case against Abdul Nasar Madani, head of the People’s Democratic Front (PDP), accused in 2008 Bengaluru blasts, was fragile and based on non-existent and false testimonies. Shahina traveled through Kumbur, Hosathotta and Igoor (in Karnataka) to speak to witnesses and villagers around Lakkeri estate where the alleged meeting to hatch the Bengaluru blasts conspiracy was held. Puncturing the police allegations, the villagers, many of them including BJP workers dismissed the presence of Madani in the area as a mere rumour. While on her way to meet the witnesses, Shahina and her colleagues were tailed by the police and received calls from the circle inspector, who enquired if Shahina was a terrorist! And now, the Karnataka Police has slapped two cases under IP 506 for intimidating witnesses in the Bengaluru blast case against Shahina and four others. Far from intimidating witnesses, this is a clear case of intimidating journalists who refuse to churn out police press releases as investigative reportage.

Fabrication of testimonies and planting of evidence—even kilos of RDX—is routine business for many in the security agencies: Tariq Ahmed Batloo was picked up at the Delhi airport and claimed by the Delhi police to have been arrested from his hideout in Kashmir (2008); the arrest of five members of Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) in 2007 on charges of conspiring to bomb hospitals in Coimbatore was exposed by the Tamil Nadu SIT to be a complete fabrication by the police; Md. Qamar and Irshad Ali, police informers, were declared terrorists of Al-Badr group when their cooperation was found wanting by the Delhi Police Special Cell (2005-6)….the list is sadly too long. K.K. Shahina was merely fulfilling her journalistic duty of investigating the police claims of Madani’s complicity in the Bengaluru blasts, given especially the inglorious history of frame-ups.

JTSA stands in solidarity with K.K. Shahina and demands that cases against her be dropped immediately.


Manisha Sethi, Ahmed Sohaib, Adil Mehdi, Sanghamitra Misra, Ghazi Shahnawaz, Arshad Alam and others….

Frame up after Frame up: In Defence of K.K. Shahina

courtesy: communalism watch 

Waiting for the bootsteps at my door any time

by Shahina K K, Saturday 4 October 2008
[This article is cross posted from the e-discussion group, Greenyouth]

A Shiver Down The Spine

My tryst with the e-messengers of terror

Since 14th September 2008, writing become a laborious exercise for me. It was all of a sudden that words turned heavy, staring at my own convictions, political thinking and journalistic vigor. It was on a gloomy Sunday (the day after the bloody Saturday on which the life of twenty odd people had been taken away by some body called Indian Mujahideen) that things turned upside down. It’s difficult to describe my terrible sense of shock when it came to my notice that a part of the email sent by perpetrators of the Delhi blasts layng claim to the deadly bombs on the day, had been written by me! It was lifted verbatim from a piece of mine (Bombs defused in News rooms) which appeared in the media watch dog portal, The Hoot. Newspapers had given extensive quotes wondering at the ‘journalistic character’ and ‘impeccable English’ of those who prepared the mail. Even when everybody calls it plagiarism I was not spared because my name carries the identity of a community which is put in the dock for all that happens dreadfully around us. I wrote about what the media does, how it deals with the unending episodes of terror strikes juxtaposing with the violence by Hindu extremists and how flagrantly they fail in the ‘balancing’act!
A published material is neither mine nor yours. Plagiarism in cyber space is not a rare phenomena. There is limited options to check it. I am not very serious about plagiarism be cause I am skeptical about how far we are the masters of our own words. I personally believe that what I wrote is not only mine. It was reproduced by other websites and several bloggers .It is exciting to watch the cyber movement challenging the dogmatization of knowledge. I don’t subscribe to the concept of copyright too. But I never thought of being caught up in a deep sense of anguish, terror and shock by some one else picking up my words for the manifestation of a heinous crime. It came to my notice that Sunday evening, while I was perusing Times of India looking for stories missed in the morning. One story on the terror e-mail had extensively quoted the lifted portion from my article analyzing how the extremist forces make a common cause with other victims of ’Sangh terror’ — Christians and Dalits. ‘The idea of a broad coalition of all minorities and Dalits in a broad anti-Hindutva coalition is not new, but its use amid clear signs of unease within Muslims about the radicalisation of sections within it is immensely interesting.” says The Times of India.
The Times’ story prompted me to go online in search of the full text of the terror mail and shockingly I found more than a paragraph of my article had been copied and pasted. It’s beyond words how I survived those moments of scare, insecurity and a deep sense of guilt. We were all ‘alone’ at home, in that entire residential area, nobody knows us. We all are living in this metro not knowing what kind of a life is there at the next door. I was in a state of numbness incapable of picking up the phone and calling somebody. My partner Rajeev did the same with a shivering heart. Our friends initially responded as if it is nothing but rather a minor crime of plagiarism that we need not worry about further. In fact as they explained later, they had been trying to shrug off the acerbic realization that what we call terrorism is some where very near our doorstep.
However their arrival at my place was followed by a call from Sevanti Ninan, the columnist who edits The Hoot. Even though it was not unexpected, I had felt a tremor while being informed of the enquiry by the Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad about me. They contacted Sevanti and she told me that it was impossible to hold back whatever information they wanted about me. I too never wanted her to keep me in hiding. Why should I be? The life I lived was not a private affair at all. I had been constantly there in the public space with my stories, television appearances and interventions in social discourses. It was very much tangible when I was in Kerala, but living in a metro stricken with terror, it was altogether a different ball game. Here even my name matters. The heaviness of a Muslim name could make life miserable in Delhi. No matter whether you follow religion, religion will definitely follow you.
After a night of tossing and turning, one of our journalist friends took it on himself to unfold the tangle in which I had been caught up. Along with him I contacted the Defence Minister, met the MoS for External affairs and Home affairs. They, except the MoS for Home affairs, know me in person as I had been active in Malayalam language journalism for over a decade. They might be well aware that religious extremism will be the last thing I could be booked on! Our attempt was not to avoid an enquiry, but to ensure that I would not be targeted because of my name.
Even after a couple of weeks passed, I think I am not out of woods. I have been waiting for the bootsteps at my door any time. My friends say the investigators might have been monitoring my cyber activities and telephone calls. It is hard to live knowing that you are under surveillance. For the last two weeks we had been in touch with several of the authorities to clarify my position on the whole episode. One of the top officials we met during the course of this, a gentleman who amazed us with his extremely polite manner, asked, So, you’re a Muslim?” I wanted to respond with a big NO, and to shout from the roof top that I am agnostic, kept away from the clutches of religion even from my teens. But I couldn’t. I gave him no answer. I was skeptical about the political correctness of such an answer through out my life. Am I doing wrong by turning my back on the millions of innocent people who follow religion, bearing the brunt of what ever have been done in the name of religion? My partner who is, by birth a Hindu had been cajoled to claim the same in front of that officer, in order to prove our secular credentials in a city where we are nothing more than names. It was for the first time, religion intruded into our life together. We had not hesitated even fraction of a second to leave the column for religion blank in the birth registration form when our son, Anpu, was born.
I was caught up again in another round of bewilderment, shock and grief next day when I went to meet Brinda Karat MP at AKG Bhavan with one of our journalist friends. While waiting in the reception, a heartbreaking cry fell upon my ears. Four or five women appeared at the door shouting and crying loudly. The whole scene rang no bell for me, but I saw Brinda rushing out, hugging those women and listening to them. Somebody told me that they are the remaining desperate souls from a family of which 9 people had been killed in the blast. Those women were lamenting their plight in which they had been forced to bribe even for a decent burial for their beloved ones. I was scared. I wish they would not see me! I was again blanketed by a terrible sense of distress. My vision was blurred off in tears; I couldn’t speak a word, my voice strangled in my throat. In such moments of emotional turbulence the rationale of political thinking may not help.
Many of my friends who shared the sleepless nights with me thought of writing about the entire trauma of an identity and its subjectivity, but they were skeptical about the ramifications of such an act in my life. One of my friends sharing the deep anguish, posted in his blog, a single liner- ’Shiver, down the spine’. No comments have been posted yet, because the readers of his blog are left with no other clue. Now I think it is high time to speak up. I don’t want to grow a censor within me.