In new India, just as the politicians of certain colour have succeeded in radicalising the minds of ordinary citizens with alarming success, media fraternity too have metomorphosed into becoming, in certain cases, more dangerous than even the IS.
The use of IS analogy here is to illustrate the abhorring act of a journalist from a leading newspaper, who is now facing public condemnation for his attempted deceit. That too at the cost of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who’s been untraceable since October last year.
The man in question is Raj Shekhar Jha, who identifies himself as a ‘journalist with Times of India.’ Times of India in its 21 March edition carried Jha’s report, which made an astonishing claim implying that Ahmed may have joined the dreaded terrorist outfit IS.
Jha’s report, based on sources from Delhi Police, had said, “A report on the browsing history of Najeeb’s laptop received by Delhi Police from Google and YouTube has revealed that in the months preceding his disappearance, Najeeb had been looking for information on Islamic State (IS) — ideology, executions and network. His Google searches included things like ways to join IS. Highly-placed sources claimed that most of the videos he watched on YouTube were also related to the Islamic State. These details, which have opened another line of investigations, have been submitted in the Delhi high court.”
The report further added, “Delhi Police has claimed that Najeeb was watching a video of the speech of an IS leader on the night of October 14, just before he had a scuffle with ABVP members when they knocked on his door. He went missing the next morning before being caught on CCTV boarding an autorickshaw.”
The reporter’s ‘fake’ creativity didn’t end here. To make his report carry a tinge of seriousness, Jha attempted to add an intelligent spin by including the role of ‘counter-intelligence agency.’
His report said, “Desperate to get a breakthrough in the case, the cops are now also exploring – with the help of a counter-intelligence agency – the possibility of him getting radicalised and being lured away via Nepal. Posters with Najeeb’s photograph have been put up in several areas of Nepal that are close to UP.”
The report sounded sensational and added an spectacular twist to what so has been a case of an innocent student gone missing after an altercation with the ABVP students on JNU campus. But the IS angle was apt given that the missing student had a Muslim name and his relatives including the sister were often seen in Islamic attire.
The IS angle appeared to have been much-awaited missing link in the jigsaw puzzle. However, there was one problem.
The police, who Jha had quoted extensively to write his extraordinary report, has now come out to deny claims made in TOI’s report.
Delhi Police’s PRO, Dependra Pathak, said, “We saw a report in the media claiming that Google and YouTube had indicated that Najeeb was listening to a speech by an IS member a day before he went missing and may be associated with the organisation. The police has not received any such report.”
Delhi Police’s newly appointed Public Relations Officer (Crime) Madhur Verma, too agreed, “With reference to the report, `Najeeb searched for information on IS’, published in TOI on March 21, 2017, it is clarified that investigation conducted so far has not revealed anything to suggest that Najeeb had accessed any site relating to IS. The report also stated that Delhi Police has received a report from Google and YouTube regarding the browsing history of Najeeb. Neither was any requisition sent to Google or YouTube regarding this, nor any report received in this regard. We have also not submitted any report in this regard to the Delhi high court.”
ToI, which had gone to town by publishing the sensational report with enormous prominence carried the denial on page 5 as a single-column news item.
In contrast, the paper had dedicated almost half page on 21 March while carrying the original report, which turned out to be nothing but a malicious agenda to defame an innocent student because of his Muslim name.
The paper, as expected, has not apologised for its defamatory and misleading acts.
As expected, the malicious news by Jha and TOI hurt Najeeb’s grieving mother, Nafisa, who’s been going through incredible emotional upheaval in her quest to find her son.
“My son would never go against the nation. We (Muslims) are ready to lay down our lives for the nation, you can test us if you want. We always taught our son that he belongs to India, and will remain so… Please do not defame us like this,” she was quoted by Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the journalist in question, Jha to be precise, has deleted all his tweets related to Najeeb story and protected his Twitter account. Anyone criticising him for his malicious report is also being allegedly blocked by Jha. We are not suprised why?