Several media outlets on Tuesday carried a report on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal leaving the prayer meet midway after the deceased’s family allegedly demanded a Rs 1 crore compensation from him.
Notable among these media outlets was The Mail Today newspaper, whose headline read, “Delhi CM Kejriwal leaves Ankit Saxena’s prayer meet after family demands Rs 1 crore compensation.” The opening segment of the report said, “Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was left red-faced and had to leave midway a prayer meet organised for deceased Ankit Saxena, following demands of compensation worth one crore rupees to the family.”
The news item was tweeted by the paper’s editor, Abhijit Majumder, who desperately sought to add a communal angle to what was a case of a heinous crime against an innocent individual. He wrote, “CM Kejriwal leaves Ankit Saxena’s prayer meet midway after family asks for Rs 1 crore compensation he paid to certain ‘Muslim victims’ in the past. He has offered Ankit’s family Rs 5 lakh.”
Majumder and his paper’s reportage were factually wrong for two reasons even though his own tweet smacked of a blatant attempt to polarise the community along religious lines. Majumder was recently condemned for spreading fake news of a Hindu youth’s murder in the communally sensitive Kasganj when he was alive and had never visited the troubled area.
The video going viral earlier on Tuesday showed Kejriwal indeed leaving the prayer meet as a man with a saffron stole around his neck insisted for compensation. That man in the video was not even remotely connected to the Saxena family. In the full video, the man with a saffron stole was a Hindutva leader. In fact, he’s seen introducing himself in the video as the president of a Hindutva outfit. Aam Aadmi Party alleges that the Hindutva outfit the man in the video claims to represent is Hindu Yuva Vahini- a militant organisation founded by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. (You can watch the video below)
Majumder and his team were spectacularly off the mark even on their claims that Kejriwal only helped ‘Muslim victims’ in the past. Here are some of the individuals, who the Kejriwal government has supported with a Rs 1 crore compensation in the past.
- In December 2013, during Kejriwal’s first term as chief minister, his government granted a Rs one crore financial assistance to the family of a Delhi Police constable Vinod Kumar who was allegedly beaten to death by suspected liquor mafia in Ghitorni area of South Delhi last week.
- In April, his government had announced compensation of Rs 1 crore for a top NIA officer Tanzeel Ahmed, who was brutally murdered in Uttar Pradesh.
- In May, the Kejriwal government announced Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of honest NDMC estate officer MM Khan. Interestingly, even Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the Khan family.
- In November 2016, his government announced Rs 1 crore financial assistance to the family of a retired soldier Ram Kishan (Grewal) who killed himself demanding the OROP’s implementation.
While Kejriwal was not available for comments, his close aides said that the Delhi government awarded Rs 1 crore compensation to people of all faiths and did not discriminate according to their religious beliefs. Also, the source added, the amount was ‘given to those who died in the line of duty.’ Of the four people listed above, one was an ex-serviceman, one serving NIA officer, one Delhi Police constable and another an honest NDMC officer.
Also, it’s baffling as to why the Mail Today’s report and Majumder’s subsequent tweet did not refer to the fact that the individual who had demanded compensation was not a member of Ankit’s family but a known Hindutva leader.
A short video clip of Ankit’s father is doing the rounds. In the video, the grieving father is heard saying, ‘All I was trying to say is that Mr Kejriwal, please don’t play a game with a poor person like me.’ It’s not clear whether the video was shot at the prayer meet organised for Ankit or recorded on 5 February, when Kejriwal had first visited the family. Ankit’s father was widely applauded for his mature response in the immediate aftermath of his son’s gruesome murder by the family members of a Muslim girl that his son was reportedly in a relationship with.
He had told media not to politicise his son’s death or make it a communal issue. Also, the presence of Hindutva leader at Ankit’s prayer meet raises more questions on the motive of certain usual suspects, who are often determined to disturb the communal harmony in the country to help certain political outfit extract the much-needed political mileage.