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The Hindu Eager to drag Al-Qaeda to India

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Praveen Swami is eager to drag Al-Qaeda to India. Beware, this IB steno is back in town, so is our doubt about The Hindu’s credibility.

The Hindu of Chennai has largely remained a sober publication having nuanced editorial line and sensible reporting and stand on issues. It has also avoided the pornographic pit into which most other publications have fallen in Rupert Murdoch era. But during the last few years, it allowed a blot to besmirch its image by swallowing fabrications vomited by its fake ‘terrorism expert’, Praveen Swami.

This chap was a sober investigative journo until he spent some time in United States Institute of Peace in Washington, in 2004-2005 and came back fully converted to the American weltanschauung and started making his tuppence contribution to America’s Islamophobic crusade which was conveniently lapped up by Hindutva warriors at home and made state policy thanks to BJP’s rule at the Centre. A senior Hindu journo told me some three years back that Swami is tolerated by The Hindu because of his close links with Intelligence Bureau which enables him to get scoops… In other words, Swami was passing off IB manufactured stuff as serious news. Any self-respecting paper would reject to be used by security and intelligence agencies in this manner and would sack such a hack right away but for N. Ram, Swami was a valuable asset… Years ago we at MG got an offer through an intermediary from the Army in Kashmir to print “good news” supplied by them for which they would pay us Rs. 40,000 per month! A very good proposition for a struggling publication but it did not take me a minute to reject it then and there…

Praveen Swami (inset) again graces the pages of The Hindu

Many sections of society had taken umbrage at Swami’s fabrications, yet he was stubbornly retained by The Hindu and allowed liberal space, often writing two stories on same day. He saw Muslims lurking behind every terror attack in India including ones which are now proven crimes of Hindutva terrorists.

Swami was fiercely criticized for his reliance on intelligence sources about alleged “Islamic terrorism” which were largely incorrect. Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JITSA), a New Delhi-based organization of teachers of the Jamia Millia Islamia (a central university) harshly criticized Swami for his fictitious reporting on Batla House encounter case. In their detailed critique of Swami, JITSA said that his report on Batla House Encounter Case was wrong and the post-mortem report of the slain terrorists released by India’s premier medical institute, AIIMS, suggested that the encounter was staged. Swami had been insisting in his reports that the slain students were killed in a real encounter. Swami’s association with The Hindu Group enraged many people who undertook an offensive against Praveen Swami by initiating Face Book group called ‘Shut Up Praveen Swami’ and a series of articles exposing Swami’s stories as “fabulous”. Swami’s critique in JITSA’s “Praveen Swami’s Not So Fabulous Fables” gave a detailed account of manufacturing of evidences by Praveen Swami only to support Indian security agencies. A desperate Swami shot back by responding against all criticism in his response to the publishing websites and people which his friend Annie Zaidi published in her blog. He attacked all campaigns against himself. However, another serious response from JITSA titled “Swami And Friends” went unresponded by Swami.

Last year, perhaps on leave from The Hindu, Swami joined the London Telegraph, UK’s Islamophobic newspaper resembling our Pioneer under Chandan Mitra. But he rarely got bylines in the British paper and seems to have landed back in his The Hindu cabin though The Telegraph still shows him on its staff (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/praveenswami/) while his Twitter account showed him on 22 June as based in New Delhi (http://twitter.com/#!/praveenswami).

Al-Qaeda’s announcement of Dr Al-Zawahiri as its new chief on 16 June offered Swami his opportunity for a fresh debut in The Hindu, not with one but two reports in the same issue, both occupying the best space any journo would dream, courtesy the editor of course. The first report, which is the main news on page one (17 June), shrieks that “India could be key target of new Al-Qaeda chief” and, hold your breath, the source of this gem, mentioned in the very first paragraph of the report, is the good old “intelligence sources”. Swami then regurgitates some stale vomit about Al-Qaeda’s warnings to India [always in Kashmir’s context] and announces that the new Al-Qaeda chief will use Pakistani allies, whose enmity of India is well-known according to Swami who shows it as a result of the infighting in the terrorist organisation’s ranks. Let us be clear: the new Al-Qaeda chief himself has not made any such announcement and our own highest authorities here, both at the Centre and in J&K, have on a number of occasions reiterated that Al-Qaeda has no presence in India but that does not matter as terrorist scare-mongering sells well these days both in India and the US. Swami’s other piece is an Op Ed which is clearly an old piece which the terror warrior fished out of his computer files. It contains such jewels as the claim that Al-Zawahiri joined Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 14!

Swami, the terror-salesman, has no time to stop to read mountains of material and evidence which shows that Al-Qaeda is an American creation having no existence in the real world. He and his American tutors have no willingness to know the truth. Al-Qaeda is an idea, Mr. Swami, and the many groups you see here and there are only inspired by an idea because of the injustices of the US of A. And, Swami or no Swami, this idea has not attracted Indian Muslims in the least.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2011 on page no. 1

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