The Congress on Thursday launched a tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him insensitive and inhuman for continuing with his documentary shoot in Uttarakhand even after learning about the Pulwama attack. The controversy has now gained momentum after NDTV, India Today and NewsX came up with alleged ‘news plant’ to defend Modi.
The Congress’ attack prompted the BJP to deploy no less than Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to address an emergency press conference to negate the adverse impact on Modi. A visibly angry Prasad denied allegations that Modi had shown insensitivity towards the fallen soldiers.
Hours later, at least three news channels, namely NDTV, India Today and NewsX, carried an identical story claiming that Modi was deeply saddened about the Pulwama attack and ‘Modi did not eat anything’ after learning about the deaths of CRPF jawans. All three outlets attributed their identical news to a ‘source.’
The NDTV report, authored by one Akhilesh Sharma, said, “PM Modi did not have anything to eat through it all, sources said, adding that he was angry over the delay in being told about the attack. He then travelled from Ramnagar to Bareilly through potholed roads because the chopper wouldn’t take off due to unflyable conditions. He reached Delhi only late that night.”
The report by India Today, which did not specify the name of the author of the story, too said, “After reaching the Rampur guesthouse, PM Modi again spoke to the NSA, the governor and the home minister about Pulwama. “Did not eat anything,” the sources said.”
NewsX too flashed the same news using perhaps the same source on its channel, but decided to withdraw the story in the face of serious questions being raised by several journalists on Twitter. Its newsflash on TV had read, “PM miffed over late info’ and ‘Doval questioned.’
Yeh kya hua? pic.twitter.com/y7p2u9o1jL
— Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) February 21, 2019
Journalist Swati Chaturvedi reacted, “This story is a joke. Bad weather prevented real time info but, the shoot continued. Doval has not been pulled up that I can confirm.” Journalist Suhasini Haidar tweeted, “Story appears to have been dropped. Looks like mismanaged damage control.”
Chaturvedi’s subsequent tweet read, “The @PMOIndia needs to stop these joke plants it makes India look like a joke if you spin that the apex of the nuclear command cannot be contacted because of “bad weather”.”
Curiously, the story published by NDTV and India Today relied on an unnamed source all through the report. While NDTV published its report at 10.30 pm on 21 February, India Today ran the same story at 9.46 pm the same night. Whilst, it is common for channels to broadcast a story on the same subject at the same time when the source is known, for channels to broadcast a story, which is based on an anonymous source, within a span of an hour raises questions.
Soon after the three channels went to town with identical source-based stories to desperately defend Modi, more visuals emerged from Uttarakhand where the prime minister could be seen enjoying his stay in the holiday spot. In one video, he’s seen posing for the camera as the crew remained busy shooting the prime minister for their documentary.
पुलवामा हमले के दिन डाक्यूमेंट्री के लिए पोज़ देते प्रधानमंत्री मोदी। विपक्ष इस आचरण पर सवाल खड़े कर रहा है। pic.twitter.com/P0oUWd1caw
— Anurag Dhanda (@anuragdhanda) February 21, 2019
In other visuals, Modi is seen enjoying his boat ride in Uttarakhand and waving at crowds, who gathered on both sides of the road to greet his convoy. The boat ride was during the day time, while Modi greeting the crowd with a broad smile on his face from inside his car was after sunset.
"After" being informed about the #PulwamaTerrorAttack , Modi continued with a trip to Kalagadh dam, to meet old friends, the crocodiles.
Note : After information of the attack. #NoMoreExcuses #ModiFailsNationalSecurity pic.twitter.com/Gq1SDB5f7T
— Thakursahab (@65thakursahab) February 22, 2019
Modi "left" Corbett, late in the evening.
As you can see, it was already dark.
Meanwhile, the nation was coming to grips with the dastardly #PulwamaTerrorAttack . #NoMoreExcuses #ModiFailsNationalSecurity pic.twitter.com/9iunKIuo64
— Thakursahab (@65thakursahab) February 22, 2019
And if there was any doubt over Modi’s insensitivity, a user posted a couple of screenshots of his speech from Uttrakhand, showing that the government channel Doordarshan, which was broadcasting his speech live was also flashing the news of 10 CRPF jawans’ killings in the Pulwama terror attack. The time, according to the screenshot, was 5.32 pm.
Here is the conclusive evidence that Modi was well aware of the Phulwama incident. And yet… pic.twitter.com/A3sUit9JDz
— অর্পন (@ARPANsThoughts) February 21, 2019
It remains to be seen if NDTV and India Today will stick to their ‘news plant’ or take down their story in the face of conclusive evidence suggesting otherwise.