CLAIM: Arnab Goswami’s Republic Bharat broadcasts ‘SUPER EXCLUSIVE’ news, accusing the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government of causing large-scale massacre in 1990
Arnab Goswami recently launched his new Hindi channel Republic Bharat with a ‘Super Exclusive’ report on the Ayodhya dispute. In its ‘Super Exclusive’ sting video, the channel claimed to have spoken to one VB Singh, who the channel claimed was an SHO at one of the police stations in Ayodhya in October 1990 when the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government of Uttar Pradesh ordered police firing at kar sevaks. According to the government report, 15 people were killed in the said police firing.
However, the programme broadcast by Republic Bharat on Saturday sensationally claimed that the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had caused a large-scale massacre in 1990 adding that the number of kar sevaks being killed in the incident was significantly higher. The Republic Bharat report repeatedly used the word narsanhar (massacre) as it quoted its primary source, VB Singh, all through its broadcast.
In its broadcast on Sunday, the channel’s anchor Shivani Gupta claimed that the number of kar sevaks being killed in the police firing may have been in excess of 1,000. She said, “Officially they (Mulayam Singh Yadav government) said 16-18 died, but in our sting operation, it was revealed that it was, kar sevaks in hundreds (sic). In fact, many other accounts from eye witnesses claim that the number could be in a thousand as well.”
Another Republic TV reporter, reading the original report on the so-called expose, accused Mulayam Singh Yadav of indulging in ‘filthy lies’ and blaming him for ‘remorseless chest-thumping’ about ‘this brutal genocide.’ While the reporter read out his report, the channel continued to flash provocative headlines such as ‘Ram Bhakts buried in Ayodhya,’ and ‘Mulayam Government buried Ram Bhakts.’
The channel claimed that VB Singh, the man in the sting video, was the SHO of Ram Janam Bhoomi Police Station. “VB Singh saw the massacre happen,” claimed the reporter.
However, little did Republic TV realise that its own source, VB Singh, had debunked the channel’s claim in the same sting video by clarifying that he was NOT the SHO of the Ram Janam Bhoomi Police Station when the firing incident happened. Singh said that he was a Reader in the office of the SSP when the firing was ordered. This is what he actually said, (watch below), “When the firing took place, kotwal (police officer) ran away, the station in-charge (SHO) also left, there was no one to file the report. That time, I was the READER, SSP. The DM and the SSP then called me.”
So it’s clear that Singh, the person on whose statements Republic TV had used to broadcast its ‘Super EXCLUSIVE’ while claiming genocide and massacre of ‘innocent’ kar sevaks in 1990 was not the SHO of Ram Janm Bhoomi Police Station.
But this was not the only dubious claim that Republic TV made during its provocative broadcast. The reporter, interviewing Singh (below), appeared to be almost pleading to his guest to say the number of kar sevaks killed in 1990 were considerably higher. At one point he was heard saying, “When the government machinery was against you, then how come only 16 people were killed. kuch to tha (Something must have been there).”
What’s the truth
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an ideological partner of the BJP, had previously claimed that the number of people killed in the 1990 firing was 59. The list released by the VHP had stated that while 36 kar sevaks died in police firing in Ayodhya on 30 October and 2 November, the rest 23 others were killed in other places during the kar seva agitation. However, a report by Frontline news magazine in 2010 established that many individuals included in the VHP’s list were alive.
In its story titled When the ‘dead’ came back, the magazine reported, “Of the names in Uttar Pradesh the real people killed are the ones on the government list also. The number comes to 11 but the VHP claims to have 23 martyrs in U.P. Out of the other 12 whom the VHP claims to be “martyrs”, four are still alive. Five others died for various other reasons which had no direct relation to the kar seva, and even many years before 1990. One is non-existent and his personality is shrouded in mystery. Two others suffered injuries in the kar seva but died many days later at their own places.”
Frontline magazine’s reporters SP Singh and Venkitesh Ramakrishnan had spoken to three of the LIVE MARTYRS who belonged to Mathura district. They were identified as Thakur Lal Singh of Raal village, Ashutosh Das of Brindavan and Baba Raghav Das from Gadaya village. The other LIVE MARTYR, according to the report, was Ramdev Yadav of Hajiyanbad in Rae Bareili.
Arnab Goswami earns plaudits from Hindutva leaders
The issue of the Ram Temple has gained momentum as the dates for this year’s Lok Sabha polls approach. The BJP is desperately trying to use the issue allegedly to divert people’s attention from the perceived failure of the central government on development fronts. The haste with which, people such as Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, Indresh Kumar of the RSS and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have congratulated Arnab Goswami and his team for this fake expose appears to show a pattern.
Republic TV was co-founded by Arnab Goswami with help of BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Arnab Goswami has often come under fire for being too soft on the BJP. More recently, the controversial anchor had looked more animated than even a BJP spokesperson when he raised the temple pitch in his studio. He had even slammed the Supreme Court for placing the Ayodhya issue on a ‘slow burner.’
While the ‘expose’ by Republic TV may help the BJP in pushing the Hindutva agenda, it raises fundamental questions on whether a ‘news channel’ should broadcast fake news and contribute to inciting violence. The Ayodhya issue has already become very sensitive in light of some Hindu saints recently announcing that the construction of the Ram Temple will commence from 21 February. The report by Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV provoking Hindu population at this crucial time has a potential to cause large-scale violence in Uttar Pradesh and beyond.
This is not the first time, Arnab Goswami has been found guilty of peddling fake news. Last year, the broadcasting watchdog, NBSA, had ordered the channel to issue a public apology in its prime time slot for wrongly vilifying an innocent man as a ‘vulgar thug.’