A day after an attempted screening of the BBC documentary on the JNU campus was followed by a power cut, stone-pelting, and a war of words between Left-affiliated student outfits and the ABVP, certain media channels amplified a poster released by a member of the latter, blaming 16 people for the violence, including a Newslaundry reporter.
The poster containing photographs of 16 people was shared by ABVP’s JNU president Rohit Kumar on January 25, and was aired on Times Now, India Today and India TV without verification.
Newslaundry reporter Ashwine Kumar Singh, whose picture was in the poster, had visited JNU to report on the controversy on the evening of January 24.
During a telecast on India Today, Kumar showed the poster and said, “What are these Jamia and DU (Delhi University) people doing inside JNU? Only two of these are from JNU.” When the reporter asked if all “these people” were from “outside”, Kumar said “absolutely”.
Similarly, showing the poster on Times Now, Kumar said, “All these people seen (in this poster) are from Jamia. None of them are from JNU. All of them were staying at a hostel in JNU. They knew about this programme two days in advance.”
On India TV, Kumar said, “Look at this photo (poster), which has been made available to us by the media only. All these people were staying on the campus for two days for this event, to indulge in arson and stone pelting.”
Asked how he knew that these were photographs of people “from Jamia”, Kumar said, “It is written on their faces. The JNU students with whom they were staying are themselves revealing their identity.”
The poster also made its way to India TV editor Rajat Sharma’s Aaj Ki Baat.
ABVP members have been accused of stone-pelting, with several videos accusing the same on social media. But how did the channels accept the ABVP’s version as the ultimate truth without seeking to know the other side of the story? None of these media houses tried to either identify those mentioned in the poster or reach out to them for comment.
When Newslaundry reached out to Kumar for comment, he said that he “didn’t know that the person was a journalist”.
“This poster is not ours but was given to us by Janam TV,” he said with an apology. “I will inform those media platforms whom I spoke to about your picture in this poster.”
Janam TV, a Malayalam TV news channel, made the poster after its staff was heckled by some students on the JNU campus on the night of January 24. The channel’s Delhi bureau chief Gautam Anand Narayan was covering the incident.
Asked for comment by Newslaundry, Gautam admitted the mistake and said his channel will issue an apology. He later sent a message, saying, “We are sorry for mistakenly putting your picture among the students who attacked us during live reporting a few days ago. We had put pictures of people who were there at that time, but unfortunately you were also reporting the incident and your picture got included. This should not have happened and I understand that it may have caused you trouble. I apologise for this.”
Newslaundry reached out to the three channels.
India Today news director Rahul Kanwal did not respond to calls and messages. The channel’s official spokesperson is yet to respond to our request for a comment. However, the channel has deleted the tweet containing the link to their erroneous report.
Times Now editor Navika Kumar asked us to speak to the channel’s spokesperson, who said, “As an immediate action, we have removed the tweet. Please accept it from our side.”
Times Now deleted the tweet but did not comment on its show.
Rajat Sharma asked Newslaundry to contact one Ankita Gupta, who said, “Our newsroom team will get in touch with you.” This report will be updated if a response is received.
Newslaundry was at JNU on January 24. our video to know what happened.
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