Last month, Aziz Burney, the influential editor of the Urdu daily Roznama Rashitriya Sahara, owned by Subroto Roy of the Sahara group, published a grovelling front-page apology for linking the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) with the 26 November 2008 siege of Bombay.
In a box titled “Aziz Burney ki taraf se safaai aur maafi)” (A clarification and apology from Burney), Burney wrote that he apologised if he had hurt anyone or any group while discussing events around 26/11. “I am an Indian and stand by my government on all international matters. I will never do anything to compromise its position in the rest of the world.”
In the preceding 27 months, in a series titled “26/11: Biggest attack in India’s history”, Burney had written over 100 editorials and articles in the Urdu paper and its Hindi counterpart, Rashtriya Sahara, offering an “alternative” view of the siege. That it was not the ISI or LeT that was behind the attack, but the RSS with covert support from Mossad and the CIA.
A compilation of the conspiracy theories was also packaged into a book titlted ’26/11: RSS ka shadyantra‘ (26/11: Cosnpiracy of the RSS), which was released by the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is widely suspected to have the ear of Rahul Gandhi, in December 2010.
When asked by Seema Chisti of The Indian Express to explain his turnaround, Burney said last month:
“There is no turnaround, I have just been misinterpreted. I was only pointing to certain circumstantial evidence in the matter, which I would want investigating agencies to look at. I am a journalist, not an investigating agency. I agree with the Indian government’s view on this. All I am saying is consider the circumstantial evidence. It is as a true Muslim that I am happy to apologise if someone is hurt by the allegations.”
Now, the website New Age Islam reports that the there was more to the apology than just that.
Apparently, the RSS first took the editor to court for the defamatory allegations under articles 121, 108, 107, 117, 124 (A), 153 (A), 153 (B), 505 (2) and 506 of the Constittuion and the Maharashtra organised crime control act (MOCCA).
It also filed a complaint before the Press Council of India seeking the cancellation of the registration of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.
Result: Burney’s attempt to gain entry into the upper house of Parliament got stuck.
“When this case was filed, Burney was trying an entry in Rajya Sabha through the President’s reserved quota. But there was a stay on his entry to Rajya Sabha because of this legal suit. Engrossed with problems all around Burney apologised on the front page of his paper…. Though Burney has apologized to the country and the RSS , the legal battle against him will continue as indicated by the RSS which has said that it has not accepted Burney’s apologies.”
New Age Islam writes further:
“Aziz Burney’s ‘defeat’ does not augur well for the Urdu media. It has vindicated the charge that Urdu media has a paranoid psyche and hallucinates the ghost of conspiracy in every affair and does not have faith in the government, the security agencies and the army. Indeed, even a casual reading of practically any Urdu newspaper creates the impression that Indian Muslims are in a state of jihad against their own country.
“Rashtriya Sahara had ostensibly emerged as a strong voice of the minorities as it had seemingly carried extensive research and investigations into stories of the victims of terrorism, riots and social oppression of every kind. However, in its defence and praise of Hemant Karkare and his two colleagues who were killed during the Bombay attack, the daily went much beyond journalistic boundaries and, in the usual way the Urdu press functions, wrote something it could not back with solid evidence and proof, also without bothering if it was damaging national interest.”
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