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A Congress Loyalist Accused Tarek Fatah Of Assaulting Him. Here Are The Questions No One Is Asking

Updated on 26 February, 2017 at 11:39 am By

Two days after he was heckled by a group of young men at an Urdu festival in New Delhi, writer and secular commentator Tarek Fatah was invited to a panel discussion on Network18 news channel.


Since a panel discussion is incomplete without the participation of opposing voices, there was staunch Congress loyalist Shehzad Poonawalla to present his side of the debate.


Tarek Fatah (left) and Shehzad Poonawalla.

Before we go any further, you should watch the debate:



Clearly, Poonawalla did not let Fatah speak and kept on haranguing at the top of his lungs. But Shehzad Poonawalla took to social media to accuse Fatah of hitting him.

Poonawalla posted a video clip on Twitter in which he is heard accusing Fatah and claiming that he’ll file an FIR.


In the footage, shot by Poonawalla, Fatah, too, is heard saying that he did not assault Shehzad. What is interesting to note is that Poonawalla continues to follow Fatah till he leaves the studio and keeps shouting at him saying that “you are not a citizen (of India)”.


Poonawalla wrote on Twitter that he will obtain the footage from the channel in which Fatah is allegedly seen hitting him.


Whether or not Poonawalla’s allegation has any ground is not the point here. The point is that the debate throws some very interesting questions:

Q1: Why was Shehzad Poonawalla so angry?

Throughout the debate, it was Poonawalla alone who was shouting at the top of his lungs. It was as if he had come prepared to launch his unnecessary aggression the moment an opportunity arose. But there was no reason for him to be so angry. Fatah had not instigated him at any point because, frankly, the latter did not even get the opportunity to do so. In fact, Fatah tries to calm his nerves and even keeps asking him why he is so angry. Poonawalla continues shouting and gives no opportunity to Fatah to present his side of the argument. On the contrary, he continuously tries to put words into Fatah’s mouth. Someone in 2016 had asked this very question to Shehzad.


Q2: Why did Poonawalla follow Fatah out of the studio and continuously try to instigate the latter?

Poonawalla alleges that he was hit by Fatah. But he accepts in a series of tweets that he has to obtain the proof of that from the studio. In the video he shot with his own mobile, it is Poonawalla who is practically stalking the 67-year-old Fatah and appears to be instigating him by calling the latter names.

Q3: How did Poonawalla assume that Fatah did not know Article 19 of the Indian Constitution?

In fact, it is this wild assumption of Poonawalla which turned the debate into a one-sided bullying. When Fatah asked how he reached his assumption, Poonawalla immediately lost his cool. Instead of answering the question, he went on accusing Fatah with anything that came to his mind. To assume something out of the blue is absolutely silly in a debate. Is it because Poonwalla does not care about logic? In an article written in 2015, he had asked why India never had a Muslim, Christian or Dalit prime minister. The question is good but Poonawalla did not say that for 67 years since Independence, it the party he is loyal to that has controlled the fate of India for the maximum period. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty alone stayed in power for almost 38 years. Another 15 years were ruled by non-family Congress members. So why did Congress not place Muslims, Christians or Dalits in these 53 years?

Q4: Can anyone be so ‘innocent’ that he fails to understand a sarcasm?

In two tweets addressed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Poonawalla asks the same question: Does Fatah have any connection to R&AW? Fatah had sarcastically said that he is funded by R&AW – India’s external intelligence agency. Anyone watching the show could tell that Fatah was being sarcastic, but not Poonawalla. If someone fails to understand humour, that’s a serious problem.


Q5: So only an Indian can talk in favour of India or criticise the evils in the society?

Poonawalla thinks so. This is what he kept telling Fatah during the debate – “You are on a visa”. So by Poonawalla’s logic those Indians in elite Universities who raise slogans of breaking India have the right to do so. By his logic Rahul Gandhi showing solidarity with those very individuals who call for the country’s fragmentation is praiseworthy and democratic, but a Pakistani-born Canadian who has heckled the radical Islamists across the world is wrong. By Poonawalla’s logic a chief minister should not be opposed even if she overlooks the increasing radicalisation of her state despite it posing a direct national security threat. But his party can level baseless allegations such as conversions to Hinduism against the ruling party anywhere they please.

Q6: Why did Bhupendra Chaubey, too, indulge in the same ‘target Fatah’ act instead of playing a proper host?

Chaubey has been accused by viewers of winking at Poonawalla as if to signal him to continue his rants.

Chaubey asks a pointed question to Fatah: “Are you playing someone else’s game?” At this Fatah again sarcastically responds: “I am representing RAW’s game. Do you like to hear that?” The question should not have been asked at all because it has no sense and is without facts. Though Arnab Goswami has been accused of not letting his panellists speak, he never asked questions without solid facts. And when it came to debate, this is how Arnab Goswami slammed Congress and the entire Gandhi family with precise questions when they questioned Kiran Bedi’s qualifications of becoming Delhi’s chief minister.



Q7: And what about Poonawalla’s own brother?

Smriti Irani had accused Tehseen Poonawalla, the younger brother of Shehzad, of making derogatory comments against her when she was the Human Resource Development Minister. That’s a serious allegation.


Tehseen claimed innocence and Shehzad extended support to his brother calling the tweets fake. But Tajinder Pal S Bagga exposed both brothers:


And both the brothers were slammed:

After the allegation, the media dug out two sexist tweets posted by Tehseen against Irani:

In his video, Poonawalla also accuses Fatah of insulting India’s policemen. He was referring to a tweet posted by Fatah on January 9:


Fatah had posted the tweet after Kolkata’s Shahi Imam issued a death threat to him on live TV. “Tumhari gardan bhi kategi (your head will be chopped off, too),” said Barkati. (Cut to 1.20 of this clip.)



Barkati was not arrested despite the comment. And NOT ONE member of the Congress condemned that.

Under Mamata’s reign, West Bengal is becoming an Islamist state with clerics issuing fatwas with impunity, radicals preventing Hindu festivals from being organised, schools attacked, fundamentalists torching Hindu homes, criminals and radicals going on riots and assaulting true seculars, and illegal immigrants forming anti-India groups in pockets. Fundamentalists in Bengal can openly threaten even Banerjee without fear of the law.

Truth is that the police (and the media to a lot of extent) is helpless under Mamata’s regime, which continues to hold onto power through the Muslim vote bank and a section of the anti-Modi Liberals.

Fatah’s anti-Pakistan stand is such that the West Bengal government forced the prestigious Calcutta Club to cancel an event in which he was to speak in support of Balochistan just because the Islamists in the state would not like that. The official version too pointed to that – law & order problem.


Burned houses of Hindus are becoming a common sight in Bengal.OneIndia

Yet the Congress, which Poonawalla supports, has never raised its voice against the rampant radicalisation of West Bengal or criticised this denial of right to freedom of expression.

What is more, the same Imam had threatened to chop the PM’s head but the Grand Old Party never condemned the anti-national, anti-secular, fascist, and radical Islamist remark.

Who is Shehzad Poonawalla?

Poonawalla is the older brother of Tehseen Poonawalla who is related to the family of Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi, by marriage.


Rahul Gandhi and Shehzad Poonawalla at Tehseen Poonawalla’s wedding with Monika Vadera. TheHansIndia

In 2016, Shehzad Poonawalla had to face the ire of Congress workers in Maharashtra who objected to his leadership.

“You can’t be our leaders just because you are someone’s kin. What is your contribution to the party?” Tehelka quoted the leaders as saying.

Now let us look at who Tarek Fatah is.

Fatah is one of the few liberal-secular voices in the world who extend support to India on the international stage. He is a vocal critic of the Pakistani establishment, the Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan, and ISI-sponsored activities in Kashmir. He is one of the most powerful Muslim voices in the world which stands against the radical elements within Islam and fundamentalists thriving in the Islamic world.

In fact, Fatah has always cited India’s example of democracy and the freedom of speech that is allowed to all in the country. What he has constantly been opposing is the misuse of that freedom in the name of liberalism. Though he is not an Indian citizen, Fatah has not raised anti-India slogans like some ‘Indian citizens’ at JNU did last year. Unlike ‘Indian’ professors who claim that Kashmir is a part of Pakistan, he has opposed Kashmiri separatists and their nefarious agenda of integrating the state with Pakistan.


That is a brief summary of Fatah. Obviously, his show ‘Fatah Ka Fatwa’ raised heckles of a certain section that does not believes in the freedom of women or speech or tolerance – everything their apologists claim to defend.


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