It ran screenshots of the website to back up its claims. Except the website was about white supremacists and 'black people running'.
Starting October 5, news channel Aaj Tak has been running two stories on loop: the AIIMS report on Sushant Singh’s Rajput’s death, and the alleged “conspiracy” to set off caste-based riots in Uttar Pradesh, starting from Hathras.
For this, the channel has zeroed in on a website that is presumably asking people in rural Uttar Pradesh to not be lured by “white supremacists”, asking them to run when they see “black people running” and beware — in Uttar Pradesh — of the New York Police Department, or NYPD.
Here's how it happened.
The channel has been taking its cue from the Uttar Pradesh government. Yesterday, chief minister Ajay Bisht (popularly known as Yogi Adityanath) said in a televised address that the protest surrounding the assault and alleged rape of a Dalit woman by four upper case men in Hathras was an attempt by the Opposition to “lay a foundation for caste and communal riots through international funding”.
Since then, Aaj Tak has been compensating for its initial burst of commendable reporting on the case by broadcasting the Uttar Pradesh government’s “intelligence inputs” without challenge or scrutiny. It zeroed in on a web page called https://justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co/ and claims that it aided “violent protests” over the Hathras incident.
The page was hosted on Carrd, an online platform used to create free one-page websites. Carrd has been used in Hong Kong during the pro-democracy protests, and in the US during the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd.
In her 10.30 am segment yesterday, Aaj Tak anchor Meenakshi Kandwal ran screenshots of the webpage — documented by the Uttar Pradesh police — explaining the anatomy of the conspiracy against the BJP-led government in Uttar Pradesh.
The creator of this webpage is not known.
As the Wire reported today, the web page has “crudely plagiarised a Black Lives Matter protest site without bothering to cover up their tracks by at least deleting the obvious US references and making it relevant to Uttar Pradesh.”
The Aaj Tak anchor, assisted by four reporters on the show, did not bother pointing it out. The ticker cried: “Hathras ke peeche ‘Shaheen Bagh’ wala model” – “‘Shaheen Bagh’ model behind Hathras’”.
In September, Aaj Tak was beaten by Republic Bharat in the ratings game. The news channel, which enjoyed a long run on the number 1 position, has now fallen to the second rank by a substantial margin.
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