Wednesday 27 October 2021
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Muslim child marriage reported with Hindu imagery

Reporting incidents of crime involving Muslim characters with imagery that are Hindu has become a regular practice in Indian print and web journalism

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The mischief of Firstpost that Sirf News reported earlier today is clearly a part of a trend in the media. In several reports dated 20 September, a section of the news media had used a misleading representational image for the child marriage of a Muslim in Malappuram, Kerala. The reports say had booked a qazi for officiating the marriage along with the groom and the parents but the images featured with the stories mostly create an impression it was a Hindu marriage.

Qazi, who is the magistrate of the Sharia Court, was there to solemnise the marriage, which proves that it was a nikah ( contractual marriage). However, the representational image on several websites and newspapers of the day show a bindi-clad minor Hindu with garland showing as if it was a Hindu child marriage.

Interestingly, another report on the same case published by media on 19 September mentioned that the couple was from the ‘minority community’. The representational image in that report was of a ‘Hindu’ wedding, misleading the readers.

Case of child marriage in

The nikah had been solemnised on 18 September in Karuvarakundu, District Malappuram, Kerala. Reports say that the registered a case against four persons, including the qazi, groom and the parents, after they learned that the bride was a 17-year-old studying in 12th standard. On the next day, the police recorded the girl’s statement and initiated a probe in the case.

Manoj Parayatta, Inspector, Karuvarakundu Police Station, said that they had registered a case under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. He said, “Child marriage is a serious offence that will attract a punishment of five years imprisonment or Rs 10 lakh fine. Those abetting the marriage which may include the guests who participated in the marriage, caterers and videographers can be booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.”

The officer added that it is hard to gather evidence in cases involving child marriages. He said, “Usually, such marriages are conducted secretly. They won’t take photographs, and the people in the area will not cooperate with the investigation by handing over the pieces of evidence. Still, we will carry out the investigation seriously and ensure maximum punishment for the people involved so that such cases don’t happen again.”

Malappuram district, a majority region, is known for such child marriages. In 2017, ten such weddings were stopped by the authorities. In 2016, 12 such marriages were blocked in the Moothedam panchayat that is adjacent to Karuvarakundu.

Mainstream media regularly use misleading representational images

Using misleading representational images that stigmatise the Hindu community when the crime involves persons from the community is a common practice in mainstream media. Such representational images often contact graphics associated with Hindus even though the parties involved are Muslims. There have been countless such incidents where media houses change the representational image after the uproar.

In July this year, Maharashtra Police arrested occult practitioner Baba Karim Khan Bengali for cheating a young woman, but the mainstream media decided to call him “tantrik”. In the same month, occult practitioner Afzal Malik and his aides gang-raped a minor in Amroha, but the reports in the larger section of the news media referred to him as ‘tantrik’.

Often, the imagery associated with the reports is Hindu, creating a false impression in the mind of readers that Hindus were the perpetrators of the crime.

Sirf News needs to recruit journalists in large numbers to increase the volume of its reports and articles to at least 100 a day, which will make us mainstream, which is necessary to challenge the anti-India discourse by established media houses. Besides there are monthly liabilities like the subscription fees of news agencies, the cost of a dedicated server, office maintenance, marketing expenses, etc. Donation is our only source of income. Please serve the cause of the nation by donating generously.

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