“Media, please respect my privacy,” reads a note outside the couple’s residence in Greater Noida.
“Media, please respect my privacy,” reads a note outside the residence of Sachin Meena and Seema Haider as the couple have now refused to speak to the media in Rabupura village of Greater Noida.
Over the last few days, the couple’s love story has triggered an unending meme fest and a circus of television crews and social media influencers around their house. Sachin’s family and villagers in Rabupura had earlier told Newslaundry that media crews repeatedly misbehaved in the area. Many media professionals did not respect the family’s demand to limit interviews to five minutes, and consistent refusals to follow appointment timings often resulted in verbal duels.
A section of the media had initially portrayed the Pakistani national as just a woman who had dared to leave her husband and cross the border with her four children – to convert to Hinduism and marry her Indian lover Sachin, who she had met while playing PUBG on her phone.
However, with the couple’s arrest – and bail – in a case of illegal immigration, Seema was subsequently accused of espionage by conspiracy theorists. Several headlines and thumbnails, in the race for TRPs, have termed her a “shooter”, “snake” and “spy”.
The Uttar Pradesh anti-terror squad has so far found no evidence to suggest the same.
Seema told Newslaundry that her family was unable to sleep due to the “harassment” by media professionals, who usually land at her house “at 6 am” each day. “We are also humans..they make so much noise that my head begins to hurt. I request the media to come only after 9 am.”
Sachin’s neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said the couple had started going to an acquaintance’s residence to avoid the media in Rabupura in the day, returning home only at night. “But now police officials have remained deployed outside their house amid threats.”
‘Slapped for smoking bidis', session with estranged husband
All news channels have covered Seema’s story extensively – some even uploading around 20 new videos each day, many laced with misleading thumbnails. From Rahul Gandhi “dropping her off to Pakistan” to Seema coughing up “terror plots in polygraph tests”, news channels have made all sorts of false claims in the race to win perhaps the best clickbait award.
While Republic Bharat had a report on Seema smoking bidis and being slapped by Sachin, TV9 Bharatvarsh aired a show which sounded like a family counselling session with her “ex-husband” Ghulam Haider.
In case you missed these details, here is a complete breakdown of the TV circus around the Seema-Sachin love story.
‘Snake, noose at Pak border’
“ISI ki naagin ne Sachin ko dasa (ISI snake has bit Sachin)”, read a thumbnail to a Network18 video which had a picture of a snake but was only about the FIR against the couple.
“‘Jaasoos’ Seema Haider ne Sachin ko ‘maar’ daala? (‘Spy’ Seema ‘killed’ Sachin?)”, read another thumbnail for a video which only talks about questioning by investigators.
“Seema ko milegi khule aam saza! Pakistani border par phaansi ka phanda tayyaar? (Seema will be punished in public! A noose is ready on the Pakistan border?),” read a thumbnail with the pictures of the prime ministers of the two countries, on a News18 Madhya Pradesh video.
A Republic Bharat thumbnail claimed to telecast Seema “live, ‘running towards the Pakistan border’”.
A News18 employee, who is part of the team that makes thumbnails for the channel, told Newslaundry that they have been told to target around 100 million views each day and Seema-Sachin videos are getting millions of eyeballs. “No senior is involved in this. This is only to do with targets.”
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