There is nobody in the world who is loved by one and all. In the course of one’s lifetime, one comes across all sorts- admirers, haters, worshippers, and critics of several shades. And one is all sorts themselves vis-à-vis others. This is how things stand, and we live with it.
In Anand Ranganathan, Shujaat Bukhari found a detractor. Big whoop! Irrespective of how one chooses to judge his publication or his opinions, for a man who ran a controversial newspaper and held non-conformist views to have detractors, doesn’t come as a surprise. Anand was not the only one. Rightly or wrongly, many called Shujaat out for what he supposedly was.
Terrorists killed Shujaat Bukhari. This came as a surprise to many, especially those who thought of Shujaat the way Anand had described him to be. When I was getting my daily fix of prime-time television debate in the evening yesterday, the usual panelists from the valley who espouse a soft form of separatism seemed utterly confused. They had tears in their eyes, because their ‘brother’ had been gunned down. But they were paranoid. In fact, they didn’t quite know what stance to take. They refused to name Shujaat’s killers, and one could see fear in their eyes. All this while, we thought they were taking things too far. Now it seemed as if the enemy thought they weren’t taking things far enough. The realization that they were ‘Jaichands’ for both sides, that they were trapped in the crossfire, was dawning on these pathetic men.
But knowing this would affect the narrative irreversibly, the ISI seems to have activated other assets. Those who jumped to conclusions about Gauri Lankesh’s murder within minutes of the ghastly act, just could not get themselves to say that the terrorists in the valley had killed Shujaat. Yes, those very terrorists whom the Pakistanis back, those very terrorists who made a mockery of the government’s asinine ceasefire. Instead, they chose to target Anand Ranganathan over Shujaat Bukhari ’s murder.
One can call them spineless, degenerate, moronic, and many other things. But the way they hunted in a pack, and the many hypocritical nuances of their stand, leads me to believe that they were carrying out the enemy’s agenda in a concerted way. There is nothing else to it. Why else would they refuse to call out the terrorists for this ghastly act? If they were simply pedaling an anti-government agenda like they do on most days, why did they not call the government out for this ridiculous ceasefire? And finally, how did so many of them swoop down on Anand Ranganathan within minutes?
Their objective seems to have been three-fold: to take the spotlight away from the killers (Pakistan backed terrorists), to make people forget that the government agreeing to a ceasefire emboldened the killers, and to pin the blame on someone they do not like. Anand was the obvious choice, considering he had spoken against Shujaat just days before, and he has always made them uncomfortable. If their mind-numbingly illogical but highly nuanced stance benefited anybody, it was Pakistan. I can’t think of anyone else who would want this act of terrorism to be forgotten, the ceasefire not to face any flak, the blame to be pinned on someone who called Shujaat Bukhari out for his separatist leanings, and the message to those pedaling soft separatism that they need to up their game to be loud and clear.
How did so many of them take the same nuanced stance at the same time? The handlers across the border not only managed to send out the message that they wanted by murdering Shujaat, but also had sleeper cells on standby to successfully absolve themselves of the blame.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that any attempts to defend Anand Ranganathan dignifies the vilest of absurdities, a validation such trash can do much better without. The charge is ludicrous, the connection arbitrary, and the hypocrisy glaring. Anand is a man who inspires us to be better versions of ourselves each day. We needn’t stoop to the level of these guttersnipes. But never forget their faces, for one can easily make an educated guess as to where their allegiances lie.