“Don’t celebrate deaths but please don’t whitewash…”: Social media posts on Rohit Sardana’s death trigger controversy; Aaj Tak criticised for using anchor’s death for TRP

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Aaj Tak anchor Rohit Sardana’s death has sparked a fresh controversy after certain social media posts were deemed to be allegedly offensive.

Rohit Sardana

41-year-old Sardana, who worked with Hindi TV channel Aaj Tak, died while undergoing treatment for coronavirus at a hospital in Noida. Several top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mourned Sardana’s death. Modi’s tweet had read, “Rohit Sardana left us too soon. Full of energy, passionate about India’s progress and a kind hearted soul, Rohit will be missed by many people. His untimely demise has left a huge void in the media world. Condolences to his family, friends and admirers. Om Shanti.”

Similar reactions came from other leaders. However, not everyone decided to remember Sardana fondly. Those, who remembered Sardana’s pro-government coverage and routine indulgence in communalism, posted unflattering comments about him even after his death, triggering a fresh controversy.

TEDx speaker Richa Singh wrote, “Don’t celebrate deaths but please don’t whitewash people’s pain too. I know friends who have broken down in front of me because of the kind of coverages the said person did. Faced taunts at work too. Don’t gaslit their experiences – you don’t know what minorities face.”

Activist Sharjeel Usmani tweeted, “Sociopath, pathological liar and genocide enabler that he was, SHALL NOT BE REMEMEBERED AS JOURNALIST!”

Australia-based Twitter user Brumby wrote, “You mourn the death of a Nazi then you are a effing Nazi.”

User Siddharth wrote, “To claim that someone’s neo-Nazi legacy should be whitewashed just because they are dead is ridiculous. When sexual offender celebrities die, don’t the feminists rightfully protest the whitewashing? If you get that and you don’t get this, then you need to reassess your politics.”

 






Many others took potshots at Aaj Tak for making a spectacle of Sardana’s death by broadcasting its anchors’ ‘sobbing.’ Activist Safoora Zargar tweeted, “This is a trailor for Godi media. Aapki maut ka bi tamasha bna diya jayega. This is what u have chosen for yourself. You have only yourself to blame.” Another user, Divyam, wrote, “Aaj Tak didn’t even leave their own man from sucking TRP out of his Death!! What a shameless channel. Rest In Peace #RohitSardana.”




Unflattering comments against Sardana in his death evoked angry reactions from netizens. Former Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha wrote, “Nauseating language being used by some repugnant characters against the late #RohitSardana. How crude can one get. I feel sorry for these pathetic lemmings who often pretend to be holier than thou.” Historian Irfan Habib (Not Prof Irfan Habib of Mughal history at AMU) tweeted, “It is just disgusting to rejoice at someone’s death. Only degenerated minds could do that.” Journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted, “Forget about being a good journalist you ain’t much of a human being when you lose your humanity & glory in a person’s death. “Liberal” & “RW” are labels. All end in death. We share a common humanity. Don’t lose it.”





Sardana was earlier associated with Zee News before joining India Today. He always faced criticism for his brazen biases for the BJP and alleged Islamophobia during his broadcast. In November 2017, several Muslim groups had filed police complaints against Aaj Tak journalist Rohit Sardana for his tweet disparagingly referring to women in Islam and Christianity including Prophet Muhammad’s( peace be upon him) wife Ayesha, daughter Fatima and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

Sardana had also faced criticism for running malicious debates against the members of Tablighi Jamaat last year.