‘Toolkit gang’: Aman Chopra’s show on truck drivers strike revives dead horse to whip

The News18 anchor blamed ‘rumours and politics’ to seemingly discredit protests against the Modi government’s policies.

WrittenBy:Nikita Singh
Date:
A screengrab of the primetime show on News18.

The three-day nationwide protests by truck drivers and corporators brought the transportation sector in many parts of the country to a standstill, leading to thousands of stranded passengers, panic buying of fuel, and a looming threat of inflated prices.

The agitation, which stemmed from fears surrounding the new criminal law’s provision increasing the penalty in hit-and-run cases to a 10-year jail term and a Rs 7 lakh penalty, was called off Tuesday evening with the government’s assurance to put the law on hold and reconsider the suggestions of the transport unions. 

But for News18 India’s Aman Chopra, instead of a meaningful debate surrounding the truckers’ concerns, it was time to pull out an old script to allege the role of a purported “tool kit gang” in the protests on his primetime show Desh Nahi Jhukne Denge.         

Naya saal, phir andolan,” said Chopra. “New year, another protest.” The screen played visuals of the year-wise protests with the title “Tool kit gang’s ‘yearly calendar’” as the anchor’s spiel revisited the prominent demonstrations of the last four years. These were protests over CAA law, farm laws, army recruitment under Agneepath scheme, hijab row, and the wrestlers’ protest against BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

A screengrab of the primetime show.

“Pattern ko decode karenge hum (We will decode the pattern),” the anchor said.

Drivers ke saath hain hum (we are with the drivers),” he said, squeezing in a note of quick solidarity with the drivers, before his attempt to infantilise their protests.   

Lekin kaun hain jo unko bhadka raha hain. Kya iske peeche bhi kisi tarah ki kuch toolkit hain, jo active ho chuki hain?” 

“But who is it that’s instigating them? Is there any toolkit that has become active and is behind these protests?”

This is the same question that has been repeatedly asked by sections of the media during earlier protests, insinuating that the protest has been provoked by hidden forces with an agenda. In the CAA protests, it was a jihadi-communist alliance, and in the farm protests, Khalistani elements had a role to play, a section of the TV media had alleged. The Opposition too was to blame, they said.

During protests against the Agnipath scheme, sections of the media had suggested that those who participated in protests were only part of a “huge misinformation campaign”. 

Hit-and-run deaths make up for nearly 18 percent of road fatalities in India in 2022, according to a ministry of road transport and highways report. The Supreme Court had  in October last year supported higher compensation and placed the onus on the government to identify the erring vehicle.

At the protests, the truck drivers demanded the withdrawal of the stringent penalties, citing their precarious working conditions, the role of natural factors like fog in accidents, possibility of an unjust punishment, and the fear of mob lynching, or mob justice, if they stayed back to help the accident victim. 

But Chopra did not want to look into those concerns.

On his show on Tuesday, he claimed that the “common factor” between the protests is that they were all based on lies. “Saare andolan mein ek jaisi baat common hain – common factor – ki saare andolan lagbhag jhooth aur afwahon ki buniyaad par khade kiye gaye the. (All the protests have a common factor that they were based on lies and rumours).”

The anchor said the latest lie was that the hit-and-run law was against the truck drivers, “but it's actually a life-saving law”. He asserted that the new law was a deterrent, and again recounted the big protests of the past years, calling the protestors’ concerns a lie.  

Taza jhoot ye hain ki hit-and-run mamle mein banaya gaya 10-saal ki saza wala kanoon desh ke croron truck aur bus drivers ke khilaf hain. Sach ye hain ki logon ki jaan bachane wala kanoon hain,” he said in Hindi. 

Chopra said the biggest lie was told about the citizenship law. Pointing to the protesters' concerns about the consequences of the implementation of NRC along with CAA, the anchor said no Muslim has been stripped of their citizenship in the past four years.  

Chopra said in Hindi: “2020 mein CAA ko lekar sabse bada jhoot bola gaya tha. Nagrikta chali jayegi, musalmanon ki nagrikta chali jaegi…tab se le kar ab tak desh ke ek bhi musalmaan ki nagrikta gayi ho iss kanoon ke wajah se.

The anchor’s show was aired over an hour before the government announced to put the implementation of the law on hold over the truckers’ concerns.

As Chopra blamed “rumours and politics” to seemingly discredit protests against the Modi government’s policies, he wondered who was behind it. “Kaun hote hain iske peeche?”

But despite his long pitch, the anchor had no answer.  

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