Remember Abhijit Majumder, who shot to notoriety last year because of his dangerously mischievous tweet claiming that one Rahul Upadhyay was killed in communal violence of Kasganj? He’s back in the headlines again for spreading fake news.
Majumder, who has since then left the India Today group to work in a right-wing website Mynation, owned by BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekher, as its editor, took to Twitter to share a story link of his website claiming how a girl’s question had left Congress President Rahul Gandhi ‘dumbfounded’ during his recent trip to Dubai. The headline of the story read, “Rahul Gandhi dumbfounded in Dubai by little girl’s questions.”
The story of Majumder’s website claimed, “An embarrassed Rahul Gandhi in Dubai hits headlines, thanks to the questions posed by a 14-year-old girl.” It went on to add, “A 14-year-old girl lifted her hand. Rahul Gandhi gestured to his man to give the mic to her. Everyone was all ears as she questioned him. Her first question was on how Rahul Gandhi, who speaks about how caste distinction is rampant, embraced Hinduism while applying ashes on his forehead in Gujarat and wore the kufis (traditional cap that Muslims wear) while visiting Kashmir. Rahul Gandhi explained that his purpose was to treat all religions equally.
“The girl’s second question was unexpected. She asked, “Congress prides itself for having ruled India for several decades. The welfare and development that were not achieved then, will be done now?” Unable to face this embarrassment, Rahul Gandhi dismissed it with a smile, like he does always. According to sources in Dubai, the live telecast was abruptly cut by the Congress. The girl went on to say that it’s only after Modi came to power that India got its recognition across the world. She advised him to seek votes with the promise of providing corruption- free governance instead of bringing in caste distinctions. The public was stunned and the entire place resounded with thundering applause.”
The article, published by Mynation and shared by Majumder, also carried a photo of the girl in question juxtaposed with the photo of Rahul Gandhi in Dubai stadium. This gave an impression that the girl in the photo, used by Majumder’s website, was indeed present in Gandhi’s Dubai gathering. The truth is that the girl in the photo (now deleted from the Mynation website) was of a student from Maharashtra, known as Siddhi Bagwe. The screenshot of her photo was taken from a three-ear-old YouTube video (see below), in which the little girl from St.Joseph’s High School is seen performing at her school function in Vikhroli, Maharashtra.
As expected, the Congress reacted angrily to Majumder’s mischief. Divya Spandana, the party’s social media chief, responded to Majumder’s tweet by calling him a ‘liar.’ Tagging S Gurumurthy (Now one of RBI’s additional directors), Majumder and Mynation’s Pratiba Raman, Spandana also wrote, “Have you no shame in spreading lies, knowingly? Two so called journalists and a part-time director RBI!.”
The Congress party posted its angry reaction from its official social media handle. The tweet posted by the Congress read, “The part time Director of RBI and full time fake news specialist @sgurumurthy entered into a JV with @abhijitmajumder & @PratibaRaman to spread fake news. Caught!”
Faced with glaring embarrassment, Majumder and his team at Mynation were forced to make a correction. Majumder took to Twitter to write, “We’ve updated the copy with a version from Congress overseas secy office confirming that the girl asked Rahul Gandhi questions we reported + RaGa’s replies. @MyNation stands by its story. If inaccuracies creep in, we have courage to admit, rectify.”
But Spandana, also known as Ramya, wasn’t convinced. Calling Majumder a ‘pathological liar,’ she wrote, “Pathological liar. Have the courage to speak the truth. The ‘inaccuracies that may creep in’ are deliberately created by you for cheap publicity. And just how sick can you be to misuse a young innocent girls photograph to push your agenda?”
Rahul Gandhi had taken part in three public functions during his just-concluded two-day Dubai trip. Events where Gandhi addressed the gathering included his speech at the Dubai International Stadium, interaction with students from IMT University and an address at a Labour camp. Of the three, he took questions from the audience only at the IMT University event. The entire event was broadcast live and Gandhi was seen encouraging students to join politics. At one point, he even jokingly chided his colleague Sam Pitroda for ‘always’ being in a hurry to end his Q&A session. He concluded his Q&A session by asking students to contact his media in-charge Nikhil Alva if they ever happened to be in Delhi and were keen to share ideas with him.
— Congress (@INCIndia) January 12, 2019
Fact-checking website Altnews said that it had spoken to at least two journalists who covered Gandhi’s event at Dubai’s IMT University and no such girl asked those questions, claimed by the Mynation website. Majumder’s website has now updated the story claiming that the place where the girl asked Gandhi those questions was a ‘private event.’
Majumder’s history as peddler of fake news
Last year, Majumder had faced widespread condemnation for resorting to lies when he astonishingly claimed about the killing of one Rahul Upadhyay while blaming Muslims in the Kasganj riots in Uttar Pradesh.
Much to his embarrassment, Upadhyay was alive and had never gone missing. It turned out to be a dirty and dangerous campaign by him to create more riots. At least that’s how it was perceived by an overwhelming majority of sane journalists and social media users then.
Majumder, who was the editor of India Today-owned Mail Today then, had confidently posted something, which was an utter lie. His fake claims that ‘we are told that they deserved this for raising “provocative” slogans and carrying saffron flags in “Muslim locality” had every ingredient to cause more bloodshed in and around Uttar Pradesh.
What was even more shocking was how he later clarified his fake tweet ‘killing Upadhyay’ and blaming Muslims when the latter was very much alive and had never visited Kasganj.
In his so-called clarification, Majumdar, wrote, “While Chandan Gupta was killed #Kasganj violence, Rahul Upadhyay apparently got injured in a separate incident. Initial local media reports said he died in riot. Deleted an earlier tweet that mentions Rahul, although what I said in that tweet about dangerous justifications stands.”
It seems he has the habit of posting lies, then issue corrections in the face of embarrassment before claiming to stand by his fake tweets/stories.