Activists, intellectuals criticize vilification, media trial that forced Khurshid Anwar to commit suicide

 25 December 2013 – 2:05pm

Meanwhile, kin of Khurshid Anwar has filed a counter FIR for abetment to suicide, defamation and intimidation against 13 people, including the victim, social activist Madhu Kishwar and television channels.

By Saiyed Danish,,

New Delhi: The tragic and unfortunate suicide of Khurshid Anwar on December 18 is being seen as a direct repercussion of the vilification he was subjected to by individuals across extreme ideological lines on social media which was quite iniquitously endorsed by the mainstream media.

About three months ago, 55 year old Khurshid Anwar, the executive director of NGO Institute of Social Democracy, was accused of sexual harassment by a 24 yr old girl, but no FIR was filed. What came after was a relentless exercise of media policing which left the social activist and an ardent communist so embarrassed that he ended his own life.


Khurshid Anwar [Photo Courtesy: Khurshid Anwar FB account.]

His demise has created a storm in the social media world and many activists, journalists, writers and thinkers belonging to the Left intelligentsia; especially from the Communist Party of India and its student wing All India Students’ Forum (AISF) in whose flag his body was draped before the cremation.

Activists across India came up with ‘Final Statement on the Tragic Circumstances of Khurshid Anwar’s suicide’. “We the undersigned are shocked at the manner in which a section of the social media relentlessly vilified Khurshid Anwar, social activist and writer with regard to an allegation of rape against him. A section of the electronic media also contributed to the vilification, causing him to commit suicide on Wednesday morning, the 18th of December, 2013,” read the first of the statement which was endorsed by over 200 prominent social and political figures in the country, including Dr Binayak Sen, Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui, Om Thanvi,Purshottam Agrawal, Javed Naqvi,Manisha Sethi, Apoorvanand, Kavita Srivastava and Mahtab Alam, among others.

“Who is going to take the responsibility of Khurshid Anwar’s death? The people whose obnoxious accusations forced to commit suicide must be dragged to court,” wrote a well-wisher of Anwar on a social website.

While people form the progressive class blamed the social media and the “over political correctness of his own friends” for his demise, other sections are openly blaming the ones who had criticized Khurshid in public on national television.

Prominent Muslim women activist Sheeba Aslam Fehmi said, “He was the victim of over political correctness of his friends who personally assured him that they are not as serious in accusing him of raping the 24 yr old girl as they appear on TV but somewhere they are sure to be responsible for his death.”

Khurshid Anwar himself shared his gloom and frustration over constantly being defamed by the media.

“While talking to a friend just a day before his suicide he said to a close friend that the vilification drive by the social media will take his life someday,” read a column published in Navbharat Times on December 20.

Shahnawaz Malik, a protester and a well-wisher of Khurshid raised the questions on the credibility of news channel for hyping the rape allegations of Khurshid by the girl by calling wrongly her an activist in December 16 rape case.

“How long will the media still vilify him? They say that Khurshid was a coward. Are all those poor farmers who were left with no choice but to end their lives also coward?” he asked.

However, a collective urge of rising above emotions if being felt by the close associates and friends of Khurshid as the statement released by the intellectuals further calls for a fair investigation into the matter before taking a hard and fast stand.

“We are of the opinion that every allegation of rape, sexual violence and other serious crimes, needs to investigated and subjected to due process of law. We also appreciate the media’s right to report on such issues in public interest. However, this process by which guilt is ascribed prior to due process is harmful to the cause of justice and rule of law. In this case even before an offence was registered, the accused was presumed guilty, before he could be heard and face fair investigation,” reads the Final Statement on the Tragic Circumstances of Khurshid Anwar’s suicide which is endorsed by Dr. Binayak Sen, Om Thanvi, editor at Jansatta and ex Joint Secretary of JNUSU Mobeen Alam.

Mahtab Alam, a civil right activist and co-editor at in Delhi said, “Some of the friends and supporters of Khurshid Anwar are indulging in the same kind of vilification and (social) media trial against the girl who accused him of raping. This is equally condemnable and disgusting. I don’t know why we are so blood thirsty?”

Kavita Krishnan of CPI (ML) Liberation and Madhu Kishwar, the editor of Manushi blog and campainer for Narendra Modi were the two people being targeted by the admirers of Khurshid. While Kishwar maintains her stand that Khurshid did sexually assault the girl, Kavita Krishnan, who had on record accused Khurshid for the raping the girl on television has expressed deep concern over his death.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Khurshid Anwar. As activists committed to ending violence against women, we have been trying to ensure the due process of law and justice in relation to the allegations against Khurshid Anwar,” reads a joint statement written by Krishnan and Kanyani Menon Sen which has been published in

Meanwhile, kin of Khurshid Anwar has filed a counter FIR for abetment to suicide, defamation and intimidation against 13 people, including the victim, social activist Madhu Kishwar and television channels.


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