When Journalistic Ethics were Stripped to pit dalits against upper castes over a bike theft!
This week started with media going crazy over three boys stripped and thrashed for stealing a bike in Bassi tehsil of Chittorgarh district, Rajasthan. Young kids involved in crime is sad, mob taking law in its hands, stripping & thrashing accused is sadder. But the saddest is the way media reported it. Have a look at the ToI headline (link here):
Reporting the caste of the victim boys was condemnable but it didn’t stop here.
Shoeb Khan, a journalist with ToI posted a tweet from his personal handle painting the whole mob as “Upper Caste”. After this many media houses also started using “Upper Caste Men” for the Mob, even without verification. This started huge outrage on social media.
Media reports and headlines would have us believe that Dalits were picked out of homes, stripped naked and beaten on the road. The presentation of the news was such that even if they mentioned bike theft, for which the boys were actually beaten, it would have a cursory mention and would appear to be a false pretext on which upper caste men beat the Dalits.
But a tweet from Mahim Prata Singh, a journalist with Indian Express changed the whole story.
Six persons, including 4 dalits, arrested for beating, stripping dalit boys: Chittorgarh SP @IndianExpress
— Mahim Pratap Singh (@mayhempsingh) April 5, 2016
The mob was not of Upper Caste Men as some Media reported it. In fact 4 out of the 6 arrested were Dalits themselves. How can the Mob be labelled as upper caste? After this Shoeb Khan deleted his tweet. His job was done. But many Media houses had already already picked up this lie and ran the news.
Let’s now see how the tragedy profiteering, TRP hungry media houses used this “golden opportunity”.
First to do it was NDTV, where the anchor calls the mob as “upper caste villagers”, evidently without verifying.
Janta Ka Reporter, a serial offender joined the bandwagon and reported it as- “Three Dalit boys stripped, thrashed and paraded naked by upper caste men in Rajasthan”.
— Janta Ka Reporter (@JantaKaReporter) April 5, 2016
Rifat Jawaid, founder of Janta ka Reporter tweeted the incendiary lie from his personal handle, testifying (not even suggesting) it.
(With video) Three Dalit boys stripped, thrashed and paraded naked by upper caste men in Rajasthan https://t.co/DFu6KnXxIm …
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) April 5, 2016
Then there was Zee News.
Rajasthan shame! Dalit children stripped, thrashed by upper caste menhttps://t.co/nhzYvnHIMl
— Zee News (@ZeeNews) April 5, 2016
This is not all. Lately there has been a slurry of “Upper castes tormenting Dalits” kind of stories coming out of media. Tragedy profiteering and TRP may not be the only reasons for this heightened interest. The presence of a political interest in the story becomes more stark when known and widely followed Congress and AAP supporters excitedly peddle the same lies with a degree of brazenness. Some samples:
Additionally when NDTV, scavenging off the incident, does an hour long debate on upper-caste atrocities on dalits; in prime-time slot, one has to get suspicious!
These “Upper caste torment Dalits” stories coming up lately may be seen in continuation with “Church attacks”, “Intolerance in Modi’s India”, “Modi government is atrocious to the student community”, “Minorities under threat because they are made to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai”” narratives. It is perceived that the absolute majority attained by the BJP is due to hindu consolidation and immoral political expediency would suggest section are made insecure and any such unity broken. Efforts look to be in that direction. India may suffer, but that is acceptable to the interested parties.
As is clear now in this case, this was not a war between dalits & upper-caste. It was a tragic incident which these newsmen & media houses were using to create this war! Media has been caught pants-down many times contributing to communal tensions, their reporting of communal incidents has been questionable, they have been caught misreporting events and giving them communal twists. That they are now doing the same with caste with political considerations, is a definite possibility. They take incidents, mix them up with imaginations and spice them up with rhetoric and victimhood, to incite hatred, with efforts specially religiously undertaken if BJP can be shown guilty.
In this case a group of boys were caught stealing a bike, people lost their cool, they started thrashing them and stripped them. This is sad, violent, barbaric and illegal, none can defend it. but it was only incidental, that the thieves belong to dalit community and that it happened in Rajasthan, a BJP ruled state. That was good enough for MSM to pounce on it. Cherry on the cake; the owner of the bike was upper-caste man. Media presented it as a atrocity of upper-caste men on dalits. They didn’t stop there, they carried on till painting that entire mob as upper-caste men, as if they knew some dalits were going to steal a bike & they were present there, all prepared.
MSM once again thrashed journalism and truth, stripped and paraded them naked. And they will keep doing it. Anything for their agenda!
Just a few days ago Rahul Kanwal had raised his concern on such trends.
Anybody who deliberately spreads falsehoods on social media must be booked under the law. These fools can set off a communal riot. Dangerous
— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) March 26, 2016
Lets wait & watch if law takes some action, repeat offending news-blogs like Janta Ka Reporter and journalists like Rifat Jawaid & Shoeb Khan get booked for peddling such lies on social media which can put social & communal harmony in danger! These are grave misadventures for which not just a political party but all of India will have to pay dearly.