A crucial part of gunman Mohammad Ajmal Kasab's confession at the Mumbai attack trial has been censored by the judge on the grounds that it could inflame religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India. After stunning the court on Monday by admitting guilt in the the three-day rampage that killed 166 people, Kasab gave further testimony on Tuesday that included details about his training by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant group on U.S. and Indian terrorist lists.
The front-page report in today's The Hindu, which noted the judge's gag order in its sub-header, put it this way:
Ajmal made some crucial statements on Tuesday as part of his confession. They pertained to the purpose of the attack as indicated by the perpetrators and masterminds and the message they wanted to send to the government of India. Ajmal also wanted to convey a message to his handlers. However, this part of his confession faces a court ban on publication.
In view of the communally sensitive nature of Ajmal’s statements, judge M.L. Tahaliyani passed an order banning the publication and broadcast of Ajmal’s statement recorded on Tuesday by any media or person, except the part which pertains to the CST. Mr. Tahaliyani remarked that the trial was at “a delicate stage.”
Given the complex mix of religion and politics in India, it's not unusual to see the media playing down the communal aspect of tension and violence. In the recent general election, the party that usually plays up these differences, the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hardly used the "religion card" in its losing campaign. But that doesn't mean things are getting better. According to the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, the "unfortunate year of 2008 ... proved to be worse than 2007." See their two-part report on 2008 here and here.