On February 18, India TV broadcast a primetime segment on an “exclusive” 3D animation video of a model of the Ram Mandir, which is coming up in Ayodhya. The show, Aaj Ki Baat With Rajat Sharma, was hosted by Saurabh Sharma, since Rajat Sharma, the channel’s head, was away celebrating his birthday. Saurabh Sharma said the video was made by the Vishva Hindu Parishad.
However, a Twitter user, Nandkishore Singh, accused India TV of “stealing” his video without permission or giving him due credit. While the channel refutes his allegation, claiming Singh doesn’t have proof, the VHP has backtracked saying the video was sent to them by a “well-wisher”.
Here’s what happened.
In India TV’s broadcast, Saurabh Sharma said the VHP had released the video in Lucknow ahead of the first meeting of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, a trust tasked with overseeing the construction of the proposed temple.
A screen grab of the video shown on India TV.
“The VHP wants the Ram Mandir to be made according to their model,” Saurabh Sharma announced. “They assert that if the temple is made according to their model, it will take two years to complete because 70 percent of the stones have already been carved. If a new model is made, it will take many years to build the temple. We’ll show you what the temple looks like, according to the VHP’s model.”
India TV then played the video, which is about three minutes long.
About an hour after the programme, Nandkishore Singh, who runs the Twitter handle @professorofhow, accused the channel of stealing his video. He linked to the , which he claimed was uploaded on his YouTube channel in December 2019.
Singh, 23, is an animation artist from Jaipur. His YouTube channel, “Professor of How”, has over 38,000 followers. The video includes a voiceover, which Singh said is his voice.
“I made this video based on the information given by the VHP and uploaded it on my channel on December 29,” Singh told Newslaundry, “after which it was widely shared. On February 18, India TV showed the same video on their channel without my permission and without any credits. To top it all, they claimed it to be ‘exclusive’ footage despite it being on my channel for over two months. The video is now being widely circulated and shared on social media.”
Singh claimed he contacted the India TV office the same day and filed a copyright complaint with YouTube. He said the channel took down the video.
“Since it was a live video, they could not remove the segment but when the live video was posted on YouTube, it was without my animation video,” he explained. “The video that is now available has three minutes missing from 9:27 to 9:30 pm.”
Singh said YouTube disabled India TV from featuring livestreams on YouTube after his complaint, but the channel has now created a new YouTube channel, “India TV Live”.
Meanwhile, Singh reached out twice to India TV by email but received no response. He telephoned the office, he said, and received an email from Anita Sharma, the channel’s managing editor.
The email, accessed by Newslaundry, stated: “The anchor in our news program clearly states that VHP had released a model of the Ram mandir as well as a 3D animation film of the same. The 3D animation film in question was given to our reporter by Bholendra ji who is the Dharm Prasar Pramukh (East UP) of VHP. He informed us that the 3D animation film belonged to VHP...He gave us permission to use the said film on our channel."
Part of the email Singh received from India TV's Anita Sharma.
Since Singh hadn’t provided proof of his claims, the email added, the channel refused to accept his allegations. Instead, the email asked Singh to delete his "defamatory" tweets.
“If the video was indeed made by VHP, how can it have my voice?” Singh told Newslaundry. “How can the video be exclusive if it’s been up on my YouTube channel since December 29? I have the original timeline of the video.”
Newslaundry reached out to VHP leader Bholendra Singh to ask if his organisation made the video.
“No, the video was not made by us,” Bholendra replied. “Our well-wishers keep sending us videos and pictures related to the Ram Mandir. Similarly, I received this one. Some journalists asked me for videos so I sent them [this one], since this is exactly how the VHP’s model of the mandir looks.”
Was he concerned about sharing a video that belongs to someone else? “See, I don’t think that was wrong,” Bholendra said. “The things mentioned in the video about the Ram Mandir are in line with our thinking, so we forwarded it.”
Newslaundry has sent a questionnaire to Anita Sharma, India TV’s managing editor. This report will be updated if a response is received.
Read this report in Hindi on .
Translated by Anukriti Malik.