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Victimizing Okhla

The whole Okhla area in South Delhi is being victimized after the Red Fort incident on 6 December and the subsequent shootout in the Batla House area (MG 24).

A number of newspapers, particularly Hindi broadsheets are replete with concocted reports that the area is increasingly becoming hotbeds of militancy. These newspapers sometimes quote anonymous sources and unidentified police sources and said that the ISI, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other militant organizations are highly active in the area. These newspapers have been very vocal in victimizing the Muslims settled in these predominantly Muslim pockets.

A Hindi newspaper went well ahead of other newspapers and wrote in a series of three articles first of which was the lead news in the paper and tried to implicate all the Muslim organizations working in the area. It did not spare even those organizations involved in the social service of the poor and needy everywhere. It mentioned the names of all the organizations working in the area and wrote regarding the social welfare organizations that they are preparing the breed of the terrorists. 

'It is willful indictment of those organizations who have been active for the welfare of common Muslims. It is unbearable for fundamentalists to see Muslims prosper and give attention to the basic needs of other people who are not economically too well off', said a senior functionary in the SIT. He added that the newspaper in its reports has tried to project this office working under the World Assembly of Muslim Youths as a training base for terrorists and has tried to project that they are helping the students from poor families to pursue professional courses. The SIT provides loan to students from not too well off families to pursue courses in medicine, engineering, pharmacy, nursing and other professional courses. 

The educational loan that the SIT provides has enabled a number of poor students to pursue courses that they could never have imagined or continued without the financial assistance of the Trust. The beneficiary students are required to refund the amount after a certain period after the completion of their courses they have been provided during their educational period. And as the authorities say the refund ratio is quite high and most of the students do return the amounts taken by them. 

SIT wrote to the newspaper regarding the misleading reports it has been publishing, but the clarification letter sent by it has not been published so far. Instead, the editor has allegedly advised the grieving party to meet the reporter who did the stories! The accused orgaanisations are agitated over the reckless style of reporting of these papers and say that it should be stopped immediately. They say that no reporter of these newspapers has bothered to come to them to see as to what they are doing and what is their aim. It is also said that the future treatment of the areas by the police and the authorities highly depends on such reports. And if these things go on without taking any notice then it may prove quite hazardous in the future. The All-India Milli Council has taken serious note of this development. It has raised the issue in different fora and has asked the Muslim organizations residing in the area to take necessary step so that it could not be repeated in the future. It has also asked the newspaper that carried the story in a series of three articles to apologize for its reckless reporting.

Organizations functioning here are registered and no one has ever questioned their credentials. It is a deliberate move of some vested interests to malign Muslims and the area. Walled City area has been given a demonic look and they want to do the same in these areas too, says an office-bearer in Darud Dawa, a charitable trust functioning from the Batla House area. A number of other people from different organizations also echo same sentiments. They allege that the whole Batla House incident following the Red Fort shootout was fabricated in order to give the area a bad name.

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