I am often amazed at the tendency of certain sections of the media to read too much into something when little exists, and often to read too little when plenty exists. While both are dangerous for different reasons, the recent sensational murder of a supposed businessman named Rifat Sharif has demonstrated how the latter kind is all too common today.
As soon as the video of Rifat’s horrific murder was published, the media, and with it the general populace, jumped into what looks now to be a lazy interpretation of events. While certain sections of the media were busy portraying Rifat as an innocent victim who was sadly murdered in broad daylight despite his wife’s interventions to protect him, netizens were generally generous and unanimous in their outpour of grief and sympathy at the horrific turn of events. The police sprang into action (it is left to one’s imagination of what would have happened had the murder not been fvideoed) and within days, the main accused died in an encounter with the police and several others were arrested.
One would imagine that an incident of this sort would have necessitated a closer scrutiny of not only the murderers’, but also the victim’s past. No. The public seemed to be all too happy to accept at face value that this was a murder centering on the victim’s wife and it was almost as if the incident demanded no further scrutiny. Which is why I was surprised to notice that only a handful of newspapers had taken up on the often tedious and thankless responsibility of digging deeper into the incident. What amazed me even more was the generally timid public response to the scrutiny and the subsequent reluctance of journalists from other newspapers to investigate further into Rifat Sharif’s shady history.
Without going into the details of the news, it is important to disclose that while Rifat was certainly the victim here, he was not innocent. He was in fact a friend of the perpetrator, Nayan (a thug who sheepishly called himself Nayan Bond and had a Facebook group named 007) and had brought about his death call by leaving Nayan’s network to join that of a rival gangster, John. The reports allege that Nayan had initially started to dominate the illegal motorcycle and drug smuggling trade in their local town with support from Rifat Sharif who himself was accused in five cases (which incidentally was only two less than the number of cases filed against his friend and eventual murderer Nayan). While accusations do not imply conviction, clearly, we should have been more careful before jumping to innocent conclusions about a person accused in five cases. It should be clear to us by now that what we have seen, but failed to come to terms with, is a classic case of living and dying by the sword.
As human beings, it is in our nature to sympathize with the relatives of those whose lives were cut short. And yes, Rifat’s wife does deserve our sympathies, but only for having the misfortune of having been married off to a thug. But no, Rifat does not deserve anyone’s sympathies and it is time we stop viewing the entire incident through a coloured filter and acknowledge the realities of his true nature.
Syed M. Fuad
Georgia State University, USA