A day after a video of a mahant threatening to abduct and rape Muslim women outside a mosque in Khairabad went viral, the National Commission for Women wrote to the UP DGP seeking action on Friday. But for a large section of the TV news media, it remained business as usual – giving the coverage a miss to instead focus on its mainstay topics such as Pakistan, Ukraine and azaan.
The video was tweeted on Thursday by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, who said the event took place on April 2. It purportedly shows a man in a police uniform present at the gathering while Bajrang Muni, mahant of Maharshi Shri Lakshman Das Udasin Ashram, makes incendiary remarks on a loudspeaker before a gathering of young men and minors outside Sheeshe Waali Masjid in Sitapur district.
TRIGGER WARNING!— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) April 7, 2022
A Mahant in front of a Masjid in the presence of Police personals warns that He would K!dnap Muslim Women and â¹@pe them in Open.
According to the locals near Sheshe wali Masjid, Khairabad, Sitapur. This happened on 2nd Apr 2022, 2 PM. @sitapurpolice @Uppolice pic.twitter.com/wkBNLnqUW0
The incident comes after several instances of hate speech against a particular community, including the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar and the Hindu Mahapanchayat in Delhi.
Among English news channels, NDTV and Times Now covered the Sitapur incident in their morning broadcast.
While NDTV had a reporter on ground in Lucknow to discuss the details, Times Now had correspondents in Delhi and Lucknow. The anchors condemned the incident and asked why the UP police had taken no action. Congress leader Udit Raj was invited to the Times Now debate – no senior politician has commented on the incident so far in UP even though the Congress to raise the issue in parliament earlier this week.
Raj pointed to the Haridwar hate speech and how controversial Dasna priest Yati Narsinghanand was let go. “They also know that those who are in saffron robes will get away with anything,” he said. However, the anchor was quick to jump in and say that such threats should not be tolerated irrespective of the community.
Meanwhile, Republic TV seemed to still be riding high on editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s interview with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on “Asia’s largest news network”, and kept playing clips of the interaction through the morning broadcast.
Major Hindi channels such as ABP, Aaj Tak and Zee News gave the incident a miss to discuss azaan, Ukraine and Pakistan. Notably, mainstream channels usually jump the gun to to unsubstantiated sloganeering when it comes to multiple fake instances of Muslim chanting “Pakistan zindabad”.
Zee News held a debate on the Muslim call to prayer, an issue for the right wing, during their morning broadcast mediated by anchor Aditi Tyagi – who boomed, “loudspeaker par dharam yudh” (religious war on loudspeaker).
ABP’s morning broadcast was focussed on the no-confidence motion against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Gorakhpur temple attack.
Aaj Tak also seemed to focus its attention on the new XE Covid variant and the azaan row – anchor Anjana Om Kashyap held a discussion on the latter on her 10 am show.
A video of a similar incident has emerged from Ahmedabad, where a gathering was called on March 27. With VHP chief Praveen Togadia and Bajrang Dal workers present, the former’s aide made several incendiary remarks against Muslim women. This incident was only covered by Times Now.
Meanwhile, as a Twitter trend sought his arrest, a video of Muni has surfaced in which he has tried to counter Alt News co-founder Zubair. “Not even one post, from the start to end, is not anti-Hindu,” he said.
Muni goes on to claim that a Muslim boy had entered his ashram claiming to be a Hindu and had tried to kill him. He alleged that the boy had said that he was given Rs 28 lakh by people at Sheeshe Wali mosque to kill him.
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