“Despite all this, Yogi is seen as the BJP’s future. He is the only BJP leader who seems like he can act on his own. He is the party’s number one polariser. If Modi and Shah dreamt of a Congress-mukt Bharat, he’s working towards his idea of Muslim-mukt Uttar Pradesh, in the sense of completely marginalising them — five crore Indians.” Shekhar Gupta, senior journalist and editor-in-chief of online news portal The Print wrote an article about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on January 30, 2021.
This article was published in the wake of different FIRs filed against Rajdeep Sardesai, Caravan magazine, and other journalists who falsely reported that one protesting farmer was killed in police firing on January 26. The fact is the man got killed due to overturning of his tractor while performing a stunt with it. This fake news spread across the world media outlets through Reuter, Al-Jazeera, NYTimes, BBC etc. It brought a national shame at the world level when we were celebrating the ethos and principals of democracy. Later it was found incorrect and Rajdeep Sardesai was fired from India Today Group. Office of the President of India had also taken cognisance of his act and wrote to India Today Group chairman Aroon Purie.
Ravish Kumar of NDTV is a big-time fake news peddler. He recently apologised on his Twitter account that he misinterpreted a tweet of Railway Minister on January 18 and lied about the data published about agriculture by the government. He has done it several times and no action has been taken against him. Though, he’s always seen quoting WhatsApp university knowledge to criticise right-winger and rival media houses. NDTV has publicly apologised for its fake news number of times.
Some of the examples of impacts of fake news are here to understand why the sedition law is too little to do against paddlers of it:
Rafale Deal: The allegation that the deal was orchestrated to favour Anil Ambani-led Reliance group by Modi Government was among the worst lies of recent time. A lie originated by TV channels and voiced by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has led to the collapse of the entire Anil Ambani empire and destroyed the future and employment of over one lakh people directly and indirectly. A blatant lie was amplified by news channels led by NDTV, India Today without going into in-depth of the contract. The amount of corruption was so exaggerated. It was quoted beyond the total contract value of the entire Rafale deal. The Supreme Court had cleared the deal after a due inquiry that no such corruption was found. Why should there not be a sedition case against Rahul Gandhi and those media channels that voiced and propagated the falsehood?
CAA Bill: The bill was portrayed as anti-Muslims by the media and given the platform to incite violence and spread the fake narratives to create nationwide stir against the bill. There was nothing against Muslims in the bill, and there was no NRC, but it was portrayed that BJP government wants to oust the Muslims from the country. In the repercussions, we have seen nationwide violence and protests, mob taking hostage of Delhi for months.
Farmers Agitation: The CAA pogrom is being repeated as the Farmers protest, Journalists and media houses have created a false narrative that farmers will lose their lands to corporates if the three bills are implemented. Had there been no mala-fied intentions, the journalists could have examined the government’s bills and dispel doubts of the farmers. There is no such clause or provision about losing their land. This fake narrative is being created and a section of media suppresses the external elements involved.
Recently all news mediums broke the news about China making huge camps in Indian territory in the Northeast. It was voiced loudly to showcase Narendra Modi as weak Prime Minister. The fact is this portion of our land is in possession of China since 1964.
Many times fake narratives are created to bring disharmony among society in the name of mob lynching. The big question is why these journalists and some media houses are indulging in these nefarious and anti-national acts! Or why they want to bring disrespect to society and country. The answer lies in their funding, their ideological commitments and hegemony to the global dying forces sitting outside the country, and being part of a worldwide cartel of big funds that are meant to dislodge democracies to suit China’s equation in the Arab world.
The sedition charges are usually being used to settle political scores in India. This law is not powerful enough to deal with these paid narrative peddlers. There should be a specific law to try media and journalists’ acts with all necessary provisions of Information Technology Acts. This law must include creating enmity between communities. Should deal strictly with fake news peddlers and narrative creators. This law must include the contents of OTT platforms that are grossly responsible for targeting the country’s Hindu community. The contents are aimed at creating disharmony within Hindus in the name of caste abuses as shown in Tandav, The Sacred Games etc.
The fake news is not peddled by mistake but is part of a plan hatched to achieve certain goals. The fake news factory outlets should be tried not only for the news but the motive behind it. Some alien forces are guiding these journalists and media houses to create certain narratives to get illegitimate gains that are against the society and the nation in turn. The government directed Twitter to suspend some accounts indulging in inciting and misleading the farmer’s agitation but that’s not enough. The Social Media and OTT platforms must be brought under the purview of the Indian Government, as no one should have a free run to create unrest in the country in the name of Freedom of Speech.
(The writer is a research scholar, NIT Surat)