Mainstreaming Extermination of Muslims in Indian Media: No more an outlier

india muslims

In a recent primetime broadcast, News18 India anchor Aman Chopra deployed a chilling Hindi phrase – “permanent ilaj” – while discussing stone pelters in the context of communal violence in Nuh, Haryana. Senior journalist Rahul Dev highlighted on social media that this term directly translates to the English phrase “Final Solution” – an explicit reference to the Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during the Holocaust. Despite criticism over this genocidal dog-whistle targeting India’s Muslim minority, the anchor responded flippantly, even appearing to justify the logic of a “final solution.” Had it been used in any other country either in direct or indirect connotations, he/she would have been thrown in jail with serious charges.

This is not the first time such words have been used in the recent memory. In 2019, actor Anupam Kher faced severe criticism for using the term “Kashmir Solution” to refer to the abrogation of Article 370. A great number of supporters from the Right wing had also tweeted, retweeted or shared hailing the decision as a “final solution” or biggening of it, bearing disturbing similarities to the notorious Nazi plan for Jewish genocide. It was denounced in Parliament by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien condemning the use of such words on social media by the right wing in his Rajya Sabha speech, explicitly highlighting its genocidal connotation in reference to Nazi plan to murder Jews. The tweet of the Kher which read “Kashmir Solution has begun”, was also criticized by eminent historian Ramachandra Guha who responded asking “You mean the final solution?” alluding to the Holocaust-era meaning. Influential journalist Swati Chaturvedi and others also expressed concern over the mainstream use of vocabulary by the right wing linked to genocide.

Neither the above nor this latest News18 anchor’s final solution analogies are likely to be coincidental. Rather, it reflects the deliberate use of Holocaust-era extermination rhetoric to describe policies targeting India’s Muslim minorities. In fact, the News18 anchor Aman Chopra has an established track record of stoking communal hatred and anti-Muslim rhetoric. India’s media regulatory body NBDSA has fined News18 India multiple times in recent months for Chopra’s problematic broadcasts vilifying minorities. Even if not consciously invoked, the repeated allusions to genocidal “solutions” targeting minorities normalizes and reinforces visions of mass violence.

It is essential we pause for a moment to comprehend the sheer depravity of what the “Final Solution” entailed- the methodical, industrialized murder of 6 million Jews across German-occupied Europe through mass shootings, starvation, and the gas chambers of death camps during the reign of Adolf Hitler. It was this very phrase – Endlösung or Final Solution or Permanent Ilaj – that was used by the Nazis to describe their systematic plan for annihilating European Jewry. The horror of the Holocaust, resulting in the murder of 6 million Jews, began with the normalization of anti-Semitic rhetoric and calls for violence in mainstream German media and political discourse in the 1930s and early 1940s.

It is important to underscore as pointed out by several scholars that the road to genocide in Nazi Germany was paved by media propaganda justifying exclusion and dehumanization of minorities as national threats. In a direct resemblance, the anchor of the News 18 channel casually invokes this unprecedented horror without repercussions in the context of protesting Indian Muslims. The anchor must understand that invoking permanent Ilaj or Final Solution for protesting Indian Muslims even rhetorically brings us one step closer down that abyss which consumed millions based on their identity. It not only illustrates profound historical amnesia towards own fellow citizens but also disrespect towards the victims of the Holocaust. I must remind him that Genocides anywhere do not begin with instantaneous swords; it begins with words.

Far from dismissing it as an outlier as it is made out to be for each new excesses against Muslims by liberal thinkers, this callous Nazi reference reflects growing trends of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate speech in various realms of Indian public culture. Muslims are demonized as threats to the nation through subtle messaging across movies, songs, TV shows and political rallies that cumulatively normalize majoritarian domination and anti-minority attitudes.

Rehabilitating the media ecosystem is an urgent need, not for the sake of the media – but the vulnerable millions at risk when hysteria and hate mongering pass off as news. We must pull back from this brink urgently. The first step is to recognize that words on primetime news shows normalizing hate can pave the path to unspeakable horrors. Those who wield immense influence over public opinion must reignite their moral compass to stop this madness on news channels. Where “Debates” and “Prime shows” have turned into a blood sport spectacle with combatants baying for death penalties and retributive violence. In such debates, Muslim Minorities only feature as offenders – never victims or equals.

While exposés and public criticism are vital, impactful accountability ultimately requires legal and regulatory remedies with teeth to deter media figures from peddling hate. Stringent laws criminalizing hate speech and incitement by the media, with meaningful sanctions, are need of the hours to safeguard vulnerable groups and communities.

Abdul Moid is a PhD Scholar at Maulana Azad National Urdu University in the Department of Political Science. His area of research interest is in the field of Identity negotiation and Muslim Identity. He holds a postgraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science from Banaras Hindu University. Prior to his university education, Abdul Moid received his early education in the Madrasa system.

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