Three days after Times Now, NDTV and ABP news channels went overboard with their fake news on Zakir Naik’s deportation, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has met the Indian Islamic preacher.
Naik posted several photos of himself with the Malaysian prime minister including the one, where the two are seen posing for the camera with smiles on their faces. The caption of Naik’s Facebook post read, “DR ZAKIR NAIK in Focus with TUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMAD.”
His fans were quick to taunt the Indian media as one user wrote, “Haters will say…. It’s inside the jail.” Another Facebook user wrote, “Tell Indian media stop spreading false news.” Naik’s Facebook posts involving Mohamad had received more than 15,000 likes by Sunday evening and were shared thousands of times.
While sensationally broadcasting a fake report on Naik’s deportation from Malaysia, Times Now’s editor-in-chief, Rahul Shivshankar, had termed the development a ‘watershed moment’ for Indian diplomacy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A report by NDTV had quoted an unnamed Malaysian source as saying, “He (Naik) is out of the country tonight. He will be taking a flight to India today I believe.” Times Now channel had claimed that it first broke the news adding that the development was massive.
However, the Malaysian prime minister on Friday, had rubbished reports by Indian channels, saying that Naik wouldn’t be deported. He had told a news conference, “As long as he is not creating any problem, we will not deport him because he has been given permanent residency status.”
Naik, in an exclusive video message to Janta Ka Reporter, had slammed the Indian channels that carried the fake news of his deportation from Malaysia. He had sarcastically thanked Times Now, Republic TV, NDTV and ABP News for the fakes news on his deportation.
“Both these news channels (NDTV and Times Now) competed with each other claiming that they broke the news first. ABP News went to the extent of saying that Zakir Naik will be in India in the next 6-7 hours. This is how they sensationalise the issue and they make the reader and the viewer believe that it is a fact,” he shad said.
Ironically, none of the Indian channels that broadcast fake news on Naik’s deportation have issued an apology for misleading their audience so spectacularly. This despite the fact that both the NIA and the MHA had denied receiving any inputs from Malaysian agencies on the reported extradition of Naik.
Misleading the audience in India seems to have acquired legitimacy, thanks to rampant unethical practices by channels, but this isn’t the same in developed democracies around the world. UK, for example, treats misleading of audience very seriously and regularly imposed hefty financial fines on broadcasters. In 2008, the BBC was fined nearly Rs 4 crore after the regulator found it guilty of misleading the audience.