National

Bihar: Innocent Muslim fights a smear campaign by The Times of India

Gaya: My name is Arshad Mohsin and I am an NRI living and working in Kuwait for the last 17 years, managing IT departments, writing language-learning books, inventing life-saving devices, trading, and teaching language and business skills in various institutions internationally.

My books can be seen on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Arshad+Mohsin

While my inventions can be seen on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stbVLjgHhMo  

For the readers it may be a story of a small town brawl in a mosque over my special speech on Friday but for me and my family, it’s an unprecedented, life-threatening traumatic incident where a journalist of the mighty Times of India has used his media clout to settle personal scores and got me booked under section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs, which if proven shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3[three years], or with fine, or with both).

The average citizen cannot imagine what it's like to experience a smear campaign at the hands of a national daily when they publish malicious lies, unfounded rumours and exaggerations and get an innocent author and speaker suddenly raided by the CID, police and paparazzi, face an FIR , social discrimination, lawyers and courts for no crime committed. This is a story of how in India media can turn a Muslim’s life into a living hell.

Despite living abroad, most of my work is India-centric. The pathetic educational and economic situation of Muslims back home has kept me in constant pain. I believe that the flaw in their moral and educational upbringing has pushed them to hopelessness and backwardness. Whenever I visit India, I am invited by religious heads of the mohallahs to talk to my Muslim brothers in mosques wherever I go to pray. Mosques have been the centres of learning and enlightenment since the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). My home town Gaya in Bihar is one such place where I have been invited by a number of religious heads to give Friday speeches and share my reformative views with the worshippers in different mosques. There have been changes, I am told, in people's perception of education and religion since I began sharing my views through my speeches directly derived from the Holy Quran and the revered Ahadees.

On Friday, 27th October 2017, I was called by a senior citizen and a former secretary of the White House compound mosque, Mr. Sarwar Khan, to deliver a 25-minute speech before the Friday Khutba (sermon) which is routinely delivered by the respected Imam of the mosque. The Imam himself had visited Sarwar Khan’s house to invite me for the speech. Other Imams of various mosques in Gaya had been inviting me for such a speech in previous weeks and thus this one was nothing new. Passing on the knowledge of Quran and Aahdees to your fellow Muslim brothers is mandatory in Islam and I was just obeying the commands of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in doing so. This time, however, it was an entrapment in the waiting. Although nothing untoward happened during the speech which was followed by the Friday prayer led by the Imam. The speech was liked by the worshippers who were mostly educated professionals, doctors, engineers, teachers and traders who met me after the prayers and expressed their gratitude for sharing my views in the light of Quran and Ahadees.

But before the Imam could raise his hands for du’a (supplication), a sudden voice of anger tore through the lines. It was Abdul Qadir, a correspondent of The Times of India covering Gaya, who shouted at me at the top of his lungs, threatening me in the most vicious and humiliating way possible. Calling the legitimacy of my existence in the mosque. It was so disrespectful that many worshippers rose from their place and shouted him down reminding him of how he should behave with a guest speaker. The Imam who was holding the mike asked Abdul Qadir to maintain the sanctity of the mosque and behave himself. A total public support in my favour enraged him and he left the mosque threatening to teach me a lesson.

The revenge was exacted when the mighty Times of India was used by Abdul Qadir to fire his first salvo, a front page news full of half-truths, distorted facts and incriminating rumours about me and my speech was published the next morning, 28th October 2017 (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/cleric-asks-youths-not-to-study-maths-chemistry-zoology/articleshow/61279210.cms?)

Here is a list of his carefully crafted false accusations as published in The Times of India of 28th Oct. 2017 whereby he tried to destroy my credibility.

In the news headline itself Abdul Qadir calls me a Kuwait-based cleric which I am not. I am not even distantly connected to Islamic clergy. I am just a researcher, writer and an inventor toiling for the educational and moral uplift of my community. And whereas The Times of India Patna edition of  29th September 1996 in an  interview calls me an inventor, a science graduate and an English-language teacher of scientific temperament, Abdul Qadir in his fit of revengeful anger, paints me as someone against mathematics, chemistry and Zoology with an anti-science regressive ideology who could push Muslims further down the gutters of ignorance and illiteracy.

As for the mention of Darwin’s theory in my speech that man evolved from monkeys is universally rejected by the followers of Islam because Quran clearly states in Surah 94 Ayah 4 That “We have indeed created man in the best of forms” and monkeys are not better than man in creation and form. In my speech, I had mentioned the same ayah of the Holy Quran and reminded people of their declared faith in Quran and not in theories contrary to the scripture. I never said that anyone who studies Darwin automatically ceases to be a Muslim.

The sub-heading of Abdul Qadir’s report is factually incorrect and is intended not only to malign me but also to defile the sanctity of the mosque where Quran was being discussed among the faithfuls.

As for some of the elements of the periodic table like Thorium and Titanium being named after the Greek and Scandinavian mythological Gods and idols, I had questioned the motives behind such nomenclature by the IUPAC which has deliberately neglected the great body of work done by the famous father of chemistry Jabir ibn Hayyan. Even the contribution of the great Indian civilization in the field of chemistry has been totally wiped out by the IUPAC. The discourse was totally around the western dominance over our scientific life whereas Abdul Qadir turned it to a comment on idol-worshipping and went to town with it. His innuendo shows me as one against idol-worshipers and thus attracts section 499 of Indian Penal code of 1860 against me.

Another day, another incriminating allegation

On 29th Oct. 2017, Abdul Qadir’s defamatory allegations touches another milestone. This time he calls me a radical (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/shun-school-drive-by-radicals-worries-gaya/articleshow/61310337.cms?). The mention of Assuffah Islamic education as a radical outfit seeking Muslims to denounce schools is yet another lie. Any Muslim knows that the first Ayah of the holy Quran is about the importance and significance of reading and learning. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked to to read and teach his followers to read, write and get enlightened. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  therefore chose to  educate his companions in a corner of the Holy mosque at Madinah which was called Assuffah. It was the prophetic design of teaching and educating the Ummah. It’s the traditional Islamic way of education, knowledge of Islam spread to the world from Assuffah and Abu Huraira, the companion who narrated the maximum number of ahadees, was a student of the prophetic centre of learning called Assuffah which was mentioned in my speech to revive the prophetic way of education.

Abdul Qadir, however, very cleverly gave it a radical colour in an attempt to make people think that his effort was based not on vindictiveness but on his concern to stem radicalization and extremism. This was his malicious attempt to play with the sensibilities of the security agencies and government authorities and use their empathy to turn them against me. And it worked. Media reports forced the IG police Mr.Nayiar Hassnain Khan to take cognizance and order a probe. In the absence of any complaint by any member of the Muslim community, the IO turned an informant and wrote in his FIR of some sort of religious outrage in the White House mosque at my speech although he did not witness the even in the first place. Now, as the FIR has been registered and the smearer campaign against me continues due to his clout with district administration, I am sure the journalist of powerful newspaper will stop at nothing until my life is destroyed.

What I am calling into question is the dubious role of The Times of India in carrying a factually incorrect piece of news and not responding to my email seeking an apology and a rebuttal to be published by them. Is this the ethical standard of the mighty Times of India which we have grown up reading? Or is this is a life-ruining betrayal by a member of the fourth pillar of Indian democracy?

In an effort to tell the world the truth about this smear campaign I went and spoke to all available media persons in Gaya. Bytes were taken even by ETV, my concern was recorded but none dared to air against such a heavyweight journalist of the mighty Times of India according to a journalist of a leading daily at Gaya. You can’t win against such a giant media houses like The Times of India, said a famous media consultant from Patna.

But I am not fighting with the ToI in the first place. I even sent an email to the resident editor to stop Mr. Abdul Qadir from bringing factually incorrect news to the pages of such a prestigious newspaper. I sought an apology or else will file a defamation case against Mr.Qadir. This innocent rejoinder by me seemly angered even the resident editor who seems to have thrown his weight behind my tormentor. Is the Times of India proud of framing helpless, innocent people just because they have a different opinion on education?

I belive truth has its own power. I am writing this to speak the truth, to defend my way of life, my liberty of expression which the Constitution of India (Article 19) ensures to all Indian citizens. My children are young. This mischief has unnecessary subjected my family to  unprecedented torment. The district judge who could have heard my bail plea is yet to join at Gaya and there is no relief for me under Section 41 despite my wife’s tearful plea to both the IG Mr.Nayiar Hasnain Khan and the SSP Ms. Garima Mallik. Does this not remind the readers of the tearful faces of Zakia Jafri and Fatima Nafis, the mother of JNU’s missing boy Najeeb? 

I am not seeking sympathy because this is a fight for justice. What I am scared of is the harm that the mighty Times of India standing behind Abul Qadir and his gang, can cause to my vulnerable family members who are already very terrorized to see their father suddenly being demonized, harassed, threatened and denied the opportunity to speak his innocence to the world.

Arshad Mohsin, Gaya (Bihar), Email: wichars2012#gmail.com,  Twitter: @ArshadGaya

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