No terror activities in Phulwari Shareef, media vilifying Muslims: Fact-finding report 

New Delhi, August 27, 2022 (PPI-OT):A fact-finding team of human rights activists has found that no terror activities were undertaken by the accused in Phulwari Shareef area of the Indian city of Patna as alleged by the Indian forces and the media. They said the media used the incident to vilify the Muslims and polarise the Muslim and Hindu communities.

On 13 July, the Patna Police, with the arrest of three Muslim men, claimed to have busted a “potential terror module”. The three arrested Muslims are Athar Parvez, allegedly a former member of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Mohammed Jalaluddin, a retired sub-inspector of the Jharkhand Police, and Arman Malik. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the case and filed two FIRs.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Patna, Manavjit Singh Dhillon, said the accused held meetings and imparted physical training “just as RSS shakhas are held for physical training and imparting training in wielding lathis”. A team of PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) visited the area to dig out the truth related to the incident and talked to local people and family members of the accused.

The PUCL team in its fact-find report released in Patna said, “Prima facie it appears that the team that is accused of terror activities was not involved in any terror activity being undertaken at the places visited by us. It is highly impractical to impart arms training in a highly populated place without anyone noticing, hearing or seeing it.”

Those who were part of the team are Priyadarshi (Member, State Council), Kumaresh Singh, Advocate (Member, State Council), Pushpendra Kumar Singh (Member, State Executive), Nand Kishore Singh (Member, State Executive), Priti Sinha (Member), Ashok Kumar, Advocate (Secretary). The report slammed the media for using the incident “to vitiate the communal atmosphere by polarising the Hindu and Muslim communities and create fear in their minds”.

“The role of the media has been to vilify Muslim community by reporting irresponsibly and indulging in red top journalism. They used the words and phrases such as ‘Terror Module’, “Aatank ki Phulwari”, etc. despite the fact the NIA FIR has not slapped UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) sections.

They simply replicated the police FIR. The investigation being at an early stage, it is highly irresponsible for the media to demonise a community by leading with such stories and headlines. Several incorrect stories were reported such as UAPA charges against the accused, etc.,” said the report on the misreporting of the incident by the media.

The report also pointed out that the FIR registered in the incident does not clarify what it meant by using the words astra-shastra. “Does it mean conventional weapons such as lathi or it means fire-arms?” it questioned.

“The allegations in FIR appear to be vague against the accused and are not specific in nature. Moreover, the police at their press conferences made several allegations and then subsequently retracted. One such allegation is against Marghoob Ahmad where they stated that he had gone to Dubai despite the fact that he had no passport,” said the report. It said that Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) are being targeted for their religion.

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