News9 takes down story on rise of anti-Muslim songs

The TV9 group news website didn’t provide a reason for scrubbing the piece to either the writer or its readers.

ByPratyush Deep
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News9 takes down story on rise of anti-Muslim songs
Shambavi Thakur
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On September 4, News9 published an article on the rise of anti-Muslim music in India and how it normalises hate and violence against the minority community. It subsequently shared the piece by freelance journalist Saurabh Sharma on social media.

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But the news outlet pulled down the article within 24 hours, without a clarification to the writer or its readers. “It was a commissioned story. On September 4, News9 tagged me in a tweet and that’s how I learnt the piece was finally out. The day after, I noticed that the piece was missing from my portfolio. I checked and found that it’d been pulled down from the website,” Sharma told Newslaundry.

Sharma asked News 9 editors why the piece was taken down, but didn’t receive a response. “I don’t know why they did it. I’m still waiting for their response,” the journalist said.

The piece was commissioned on June 13, Sharma said, and filed within a week, because it was “urgent”. “But there was a delay in publication and I had to follow it up multiple times."

Sharma has been writing for News 9 for nearly a year, but has not faced such a situation before.

A News9 staffer said the article was taken down after a collective decision by the management. “This happened perhaps because the article was commissioned under the previous management,” he said. “The entire management has changed, especially in higher editorial positions.” The news website’s current head is Deep Upadhyay.

News 9, a property of TV9 media group, saw a churn in its editorial leadership last July, with Upadhyay taking over as the head honcho from Sant Prasad Rai, and, in turn, appointing several new heads of department.

The staffer said he couldn’t fathom why the new management would have a problem with Sharma’s article. “It just quoted people. I don’t know what the problem could be,” another staffer said.

The piece details how Hindu supremacist groups are employing anti-Muslim pop songs to incite hatred against the minority community. It quotes a cross-section of artists on how the songs, sometimes in the form of devotional music, normalise hatred and violence against Muslims.

Newslaundry contacted Upadhyay for comment. This report will be updated if we get a response.

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