‘ Whatever has happened to Sadhvi Pragya ?’

published on May 25, 2013

In the last two to three years that the present writer has been watching the two major English news channels, NDTV and CNNIBN, there has hardly been even any mention of the young Hindu nun Sadhvi Pragya who has been incarcerated in Indian jails(without evidence) and has been suffering from a variety of illnesses not to mention narco tests and so on. There have also been allegations of torture against her. Apart from an old motorcycle belonging to her (and sold by her before the blasts) and the retracted confession of Aseemanand there seems to be no serious evidence against her in the 2006 Malegaon blast. The liberal press, ofcourse , has tossed words around such as ‘Hindu terror’.

The latest news is that the NIA will be issuing a supplementary charge sheet against her , Aseemanand and Colonel Purohit. And the NIA has dismissed the cases against some Muslim youths who it is claimed were falsely accused of the blasts.

The case has been zigzagging unpredictably, moving from police investigations to ATS to CBI to NIA. She has not been officially charged to date and there has been no conviction. Meanwhile, her condition deteriorates and she has been refused bail. Meanwhile, the hype over Sanjay Dutt (who has been actually convicted of complicity in the Mumbai bomb blasts attack) and his royal treatment continue. And hours have been spent on the news channels discussing his case.

It is in this context that both NDTV and CNNIBN can be both rebuked over their long silence and as well congratulated for their breaking that silence on Hindu victims of false investigations, although both their programs (May 23, 2013) focussed on the young Muslim victims of mistrial for the Malegon blasts. This selective focus in the past on only Muslim and minority victimisation is surprising, since Hindus have also been victimised by the law and order process, as in the case of Sadhvi Pragya.

The CNNIBN program (FTN ‘ Are security agencies wrongfully arresting innocent Muslims ?’  May 23,2013) had only  Muslim interlocutors and the ubiquitous Ashish Chetan   of Tehelka Mgazine who claimed to have done an expose (his exposes on other issues have not always been convincing, and there is no reason to believe that this is also the case) of shoddy and prejudiced police investigations against the young Muslims who were accused and imprisoned over the Malegaon bomb blasts of 2006. The Muslim experts on the panel were, ofcourse, concerned with the welfare of their community.

While it is commendable that in a democracy like India there should be critical assessments of police and criminal investigations and the public should be well informed about what is going on, the oversight and criticism should be made on behalf of all victims be it Hindu or Muslim. At the CNNIBN program an experienced and knowledgeable Sagarika Ghosh (the anchor) did raise this question. However, it came only towards the end and there was not much time for discussion. She did mention Sadhvi Pragya by name !

The redoubtable  Chetan  had to agree(albeit reluctantly) but there was no serious discussion and the name of the young Indian nun whose health had been brutally devastated  was left hanging in the air. Whatever has happened to all the feminist groups whose silence is deafening !

The NDTV program (‘Malegaon blasts : the terror error’ May 23, 2013) was anchored by a relatively inexperienced and not quite well informed anchor  Sunetra Choudhury  (she has done well in some other programs) who was at sea amongst the seasoned pro Muslims veterans such as Majid Memon etc. The discussions again were somewhat self serving and did not even raise the question of innocent Hindus, although there was some bandying about of the words ‘Hindu terror’. The problem became even more acute with the input from one Manisha Sethi who appears to be something of a feminist and a sociologist   and who is also President of the Jamia Teachers’ Association. There was one relatively objective police officer a retired DGP from the Maharashtra police (Jayant Umranikumar) who made an attempt to balance the discussion.

Interestingly, while Manisha Sethi waxed eloquent about the Muslim victims of police incompetence/prejudice etc. she did not once mention the name of Sadhvi Pragya.

One cannot help but think that the Hindu nun has been forgotten by the liberal media and the feminist lobby.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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