Senior journalist Abhisar Sharma on Sunday expressed his disgust over the ‘lies’ spread by Aaj Tak channel to further inflame the communal tension in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj. One person had died in firing and several others were injured after a group of Hindutva supporters made desperate attempts to stop another group of Muslims from carrying out their Republic Day function on Friday.
Abhisar minced no words and slammed Aaj Tak channel and its so-called journalists without taking names. A clip of his Facebook Live has now gone viral on social media platforms with journalists, lawyers and members of civil society applauding him for his ability to tell the truth.
We need all owners to crackdown on journalists who are bigots disguised with cameras or bylines! Worse they're messing up your brand for the future! Anybody listening? RT please to get it noticed by bosses. https://t.co/rcYR3ol0w0
— dilip cherian (@DILIPtheCHERIAN) January 28, 2018
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) January 28, 2018
— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) January 28, 2018
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) January 28, 2018
Kudos to you @abhisar_sharma for this. Personally going to lodge a formal complaint in BEA against these communal agents misusing the medium they have liberty of with no sense of responsibility. @aroonpurie @supriyapd @rahulkanwal @sardesairajdeep pic.twitter.com/dM29avoltK
— Dr. Neha Singh (@TheNehaTweets) January 28, 2018
Earlier media reports had claimed that the area’s Muslims did not allow the Hindu youth, who were carrying the Indian national flags, to travel past their neighbourhood. This, according to the earlier report, was the root of the violence.
However, on Sunday a fresh video emerged making it abundantly clear that there was no truth in the claims made by the supporters of the ABVP and the VHP. Contrary to their claims, the video showed how the youth belonging to the Hindutva brigade had arrived in the Muslim area of Kasganj on motorbikes carrying both the Indian national flags and saffron flags.
A local advocate Munazir had told ABP News that the youth who arrived on bikes had prevented them from celebrating Republic Day and even uprooted the mast, carrying the national flag.
“They were insulting towards the national flag. They even destroyed the rangoli, colourful design made at the bottom of the mast, with the bikes and ran away. It was after they left our neighbourhood that they resorted to attacking Muslim shops and firing,” said Munazir.
Munazir’s claims were corroborated by even by a top police official. IGP Dhruva Kant Thakur, who reached Kasganj from Lucknow on Saturday morning, told Indian Express, “Members of the Muslim community were about to hoist the national flag when the incident took place.” The event to celebrate Republic Day was organised by collecting contribution from people. One Rafi said, “I had contributed Rs 200 for the Republic Day celebration here.”
Meanwhile, Aaj Tak anchors, namely Sweta Singh and Rohit Sardana, both often accused of being the flag-bearers of the right-wing Hindutva ideology, took to Twitter to post tweets that many found objectionable. Both implied that Muslims were at fault.
Sardana, who recently left Zee News to join Aaj Tak, tweeted claiming that a person was indeed killed because of his alleged determination to fly the Indian flag. Sardana did not care to correct or update his tweet even after the video showed that Hindutva youth were causing disruption at the Republic Day celebrations while shouting objectionable slogans against Muslims.
On Saturday, the Aaj Tak representative, often perceived to be pro-Hindutva, also presented a programme asking an incredibly biased question, “Riots if you choose to fly the tricolour in India?” He started his programme with yet another but incredible lie that Muslims had chanted ‘Pakistan Zindabad.’ This was extraordinary because this has not been stated even by the local police, which reports to the state’s BJP-led government.
His colleague Sweta too tweeted along the same lines but using even more provocative and communally charged lines than that of Sardana. She asked how Kasganj could be a part of an independent India when a young man was shot dead simply because he was celebrating Republic Day. Again, just like Sardana, she too willfully chose to hide the truth and did not tweet about the fact that Muslims had gathered at Veer Abdul Hameed crossing to celebrate Republic Day when they were prevented from doing so.
Singh had hit media headlines with her famous video claiming that the BJP government had introduced a chip in Rs 2,000 notes that will help them trace the currency even if they were buried hundreds of feet below the earth.
Ironically, one of Aaj Tak’s own reporters, Ashutosh Mishra, had visited the affected area in Kasganj and found that there was no truth to what Singh and Saradana were tweeting. You can watch Mishra’s report here.
Both Aaj Tak anchors faced unprecedented anger on social media on Sunday with users tagging the India Today Group’s chairman, Aroon Purie, demanding Sardana’s sacking while also threatening to boycott the group’s all four channels. These users also launched a new hashtag #दंगाई_सरदाना (Rioter_Sardana) on the microblogging site.
A simple guide to block BJP & RSS propaganda News channel @aajtak from your DTH.
I have blocked @ZeeNews @republic @indiatvnews
Now Its time to block @aajtak too.
Don't give them TRP. @aroonpurie @sardanarohit#blockAajTak RT & Spread it in 'national internet' ?#दंगाई_सरदाना pic.twitter.com/de00jiiVgT
— पकोड़ेवाला।।। (@Roflnath) January 28, 2018
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushanL) January 28, 2018
This type of journalism is going to harm our country for long term …. #दंगाई_सरदाना जैसे लोग termites होते हैं … जो अपने देश को अंदर से खोखला बना रहे हैं … & We will not realise it before it is too late ….????
— Veena D (@The_veenaD) January 28, 2018
@sardanarohit slogans which were raised there, “Munh me gilori bagal me paan, Mullon Tum jao Pakistan”, is provocative when Muslims were celebrating Republic Day Pls come out of the studio & social media journalism Reality is not as catchy as ur Twitter one liners#दंगाई_सरदाना
— awais shah (@AwaisShah86) January 28, 2018
— Rofl Republic (@i_theindian) January 28, 2018
— Aaryaa ?? (@dho_dala) January 28, 2018
Sweta Singh is Madhu Kishwar without any “If this is true” Rider. New video has proven that in that Muslim locality #kasganj already Republic Day program with Indian flag hoisting was going on.
why is sweta spreading fake news and inciting communal violence? pic.twitter.com/klfVe4KPAY
— Ravikiran (@scribe_it) January 28, 2018
.@aroonpurie No hope, but requesting you to do take action against rohit sardana and sweta singh, whos tried to initiate riot.
— Vikram Singh (@viingh) January 28, 2018
It seems that India Today group has now decided to come out in the open to support the Hindutva agenda. Several on-air faces associated with the group have been showing their biases in favour of one political party while allegedly carrying out pro-Hindutva agenda. The management’s refusal to act shows that these perceived Hindutva foot soldiers within the group have their tacit approval.