As many as 24 people have been arrested in Assam in the lynching of two persons, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, by local population, who were misled to treat them as child lifters because of fake news spread via WhatsApp.
In a shocking incident on Friday, as reported by PTI, two friends — Nilotpal Das (29) and Abhijeet Nath (30) — had gone to the Kangthilangso waterfalls in Karbi Anglong and while returning, their vehicle was stopped at Panjuri by a group of irate villagers, who pulled them out and killed them by beating them up for hours on the suspicion that they were child-lifters.
The news sent shockwaves across India, reigniting a fresh debate on the danger of fake news using WhatsApp platform. One of the channels that decided to discuss the danger of fake news was surprisingly Republic TV, which is funded by the BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Among those invited by Republic TV was also the editor of fake news website Postcard News, whose founder was arrested by Karnataka Police earlier this year for spreading a fake news in a bid to cause communal riots.
In its bid to further glorify the serial peddler of fake news, the channel also kept prominently flashing the comments made by its editor.
#FakeNewsCanKill | Fake news lead to lynching, it leads to the politicisation of events: Dr Aishwarya (Editor, Postcard News) pic.twitter.com/zjw8GDTAYq
— Republic (@republic) June 11, 2018
For the watchers of Indian TV news, the fake news discussion on Republic TV came as a double whammy. Aside from the glaring irony in Republic TV discussing the consequences of fake news, the choice of fake news peddler as its guest left everyone in splits. Left amused, one user Anurag Shah wrote, “ROFL … Fake News website giving Gyan on Fake news Propaganda channel on Fake News. Fake News also must be feeling ashamed. What a irony.” Another user Sardar G commented, “W**! Post card news editor as panelists on fake news debate. Irony died 1000 times today.” Journalist Barkha Dutt wrote, “Our channels are inviting Post Card New to debate Fake News. Hmm. Sort of like – asking the chap who robbed your house to secure the locks 🙂 TV News as Farce continues.”
Other than discussing the gruesome lynching of two innocent Assamese by the enraged mob in Assam, what had also seemingly left Goswami upset was student leader Shehla Rashid accusing Union Minister Nitin Gadkari of plotting to kill Prime Ministyer Narendra Modi. Reacting to the multiple news of alleged assassination bid against PM Modi, Rashid had tweeted stating that the RSS and Gadkari were out to kill Modi. However, after the union minister threatened to take criminal action against her tweet, Rashid clarified that her original tweet was a sarcastic take on the news of Modi’s imaginary assassination bid.