News channel India Today has taken its consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai off the air for two weeks after misreporting on a farmer's death during the tractor rally, highly-placed sources at the channel told Newslaundry. Sardesai has also been docked of one month's salary.
On January 26, Sardesai incorrectly reported that Navneet Singh, a farmer, had been killed in police firing. Sardesai made the claims both on Twitter and on air.
The tweet was later deleted.
Sardesai also made the same claim during his live coverage on India Today on January 26. Speaking to the channel's reporter Ankit Tyagi, Sardesai had said: "There is the dead body, which was shown to me of an individual who is allegedly Navneet Singh, 24 years old, was reportedly driving the tractor, comes from Western UP, and because he has been shot in the head...suffered a bullet injury which has resulted in his death.“
Sardesai continued that Singh's death had "sparked an angry reaction" and the farmer would become a "symbol" now.
Later, however, the Delhi police released video footage of a tractor, reportedly being driven by Singh, ramming into police barricades. The tractor overturned and Singh allegedly succumbed to his injuries.
Sardesai tweeted the video, adding that the police showed "great restraint" with "no evidence of bullets fired".
Sardesai explained his error during his show on the night of January 26.
He said: "These were the allegations that were being made at the time when we were reporting this afternoon. The eyewitnesses and the friends of the deceased, when we spoke to them, they were insistent that a shot had been fired and the tractor overturned because a shot was fired...However, the police version, and particularly the video, makes it very clear that the particular act of the tractor overturning could be the cause of death...The police version appears more credible than what the farm protesters are claiming."
According to the police, confirmed he died of injuries sustained from the accident. ANI quoted Avinash Chandra, a senior officer from the Uttar Pradesh police, as saying: "He died of the antemortem injuries which he received after his tractor overturned as seen in a viral video."