Top Lies spread by the Indian Media in March 2015

1. 2nd March 2015: Press Trust of India, and subsequently all Media houses – BJP MP Sadhvi Prachi calls for boycott of Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman Khan films

Based on a PTI report, all media houses published a story that a “BJP MP”  has asked to boycott films by the Khan trio. What was amazing was Sadhvi Prachi was never a BJP MP. She was never ever elected to any pots on a BJP ticket. As per this site, She could have been a BJP MLA candidate from UP, provided both the Prachi’s are the same. She was certainly a BJP member though, since she was hauled up by BJP UP president for her remarks. But the main reason why this story got played up was that many people believed she was a BJP MP.

2. 2nd March 2015: IndiaToday – Valdimir Putin’s original name is Vaarahmihir Putr Singh, says Sadhvi Prachi

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But Media was not done with the Sadhvi. First they made her an MP, now they put words in her mouth. India Today ran this story which claimed the Sadhvi had said Putin’s original name was “Vaarahmihir Putr Singh”. There was huge outrage on Twitter, hashtags like #VHPNames and #AlternateHinduNames trended. Even Pakistani media picked up this story. But sometime during this, India Today mysteriously took down the story. It was probably because this story was a full blown out lie. The Sadhvi never made such a statement. In fact this statement was made by a humour columnist in a satirical post on dailyo.in :

If you are from Sangh Parivar – all the better if you are a BJP member – and the media doesn’t show your mug on TV because they are busy pushing sound bites from senior leaders, here’s a sure-shot method to get bang under the spotlight: Say something outrageous. Say Vladimir Putin is Hindu and his name is Vaarahmihir Putr Singh

It is astounding how big media houses like India Today can “err” so much, or was it another wilful plant to tarnish a particular party, because even in this story, India Today re-iterated that the Sadhvi was a “BJP MP”.

3. 3rd March 2015: Times of India – LS poll-eve NaMo blitz cost BJP Rs 700cr: ADR

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong here, but Times of India, the master at misreporting, spreads 2 lies here. Firstly they say “NaMo blitz cost BJP Rs 700 Cr”. We checked the original ADR report, which Times of India relied on. As per the ADR report, Rs 700 Cr (Rs 712 Cr to be exact) was the TOTAL expenditure incurred by BJP on Publicity, Travel, Expenditure on Candidates and Others, and not on “NaMo Blitz” as they claimed. Secondly, Times of India said the “LS Poll-Eve” blitz cost Rs 700 Cr. This again is wrong. The TOTAL expenditure over 75 days of election period, was Rs 700 Cr and not for the “LS Poll-Eve”, as reported. By using 2 lies in one statement, Times of India managed to magnify the impact disproportionately in order to create a sensation.

4. 4th March 2015: India Today – PM Narendra Modi’s office among top rejectors of RTI queries

Considering the major brainfades we usually have, this is a minor one. On 4th March, India Today from its Twitter handle tweeted the above caption saying Modi is a serial rejector of RTI queries. On seeing the actual story, it was clear that the report was about RTI queries rejected during 2013-14 i.e. during Manmohan Singh’s tenure. Yet India Today in its tweet tagged Narendra Modi, to create a false impression. And then in what seemed to be a concerted effort or mass brain fade, even Outlook and Economic Times posted the same stories, using photos of Narendra Modi in the article, again creating a false impression.

5. 9th March 2015: Scroll.in – Read the controversial emails by Prashant Bhushan’s sister that pushed AAP to breaking point

A series of emails from Shalini Gupta, sister of Prashant Bhushan were picked by Scroll.in. A story based on these emails painted Gupta in the negative. The article said “her emails demonstrate that she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the AAP Lokpal, Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, on the suitability of 12 nominations that were being challenged”. However Scroll.in leaked only selective emails and did not look at all the emails, thus providing a wrong image. As per this post on Newslaundry.com, Gupta in her last response to the mail trail wrote exactly the opposite “I think since the review process is going on, there should not be any cause for concern at this point.  This is a satisfactory solution for now.”. This Scroll.in omitted crucial emails and reported something which was totally opposite to the truth. The author of the story now claims he did not have the entire trail of emails. We wonder if relying on half-information is incompetence or a deliberate attempt to malign.

6. 15th March 2015: Press Trust of India – and subsequently other media: Gandhi Jayanti no longer a public holiday in Goa

We had written a full post on this on the very same day. The summary of the post is, the Goa Government while maintaining Gandhi Jayanti as a public holiday removed it from the holidays for Industries and Factories, by giving another compensatory holiday based on local needs. It also continued to be a holiday for Shops and Establishments. So the only people affected were workers in factories, and a for a valid reason. But PTI reported that it was no longer a public holiday which was completely inaccurate. Later Hindustan Times, which relied on PTI corrected its story, but PTI had stuck to its wrong news.

7. 17th March 2015: DNA – Supreme Court sets aside Modi Government Order for Reservations to Jat Community

A small “slip up” possible by DNA, but the internet is unforgiving. On 17th March the Supreme Court set aside a Central Government order for Jat Reservation. The quota was announced by the UPA Government on March 4 last year, just a day before the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls. Although this was clearly an order by UPA, DNA decided to credit Modi for the same. By the time we were made aware of this, they had rectified the “error”, but a Google search confirmed that they had indeed blamed Modi’s Government for this. The Google search also confirmed that this error was exclusive to DNA and no other media house had erred. It must however be noted that once Modi came to power, his Government supported this UPA decision in the courts.

8. 17th March 2015: Indian Express – Nun Gang Rape Case: Archbishop clears Mamata, blames Modi govt for rising violence against minorities

We had written a separate post on this issue. Indian Express reported that the Archbishop of Kolkata had criticised the CBI (a national body) for its poor work in the Rape case, thus giving a clean chit to Mamata. In fact the Archbishop had criticised the CID (local Bengal body) and had never cleared Mamata Bannerjee. Later Indian Express correct this error, but maintained that Mamata had been cleared. The report also suggested that the Archbishop gave the rape a communal angle, but failed to report the clear words of the Archbishop where he squarely refused to make any Communal or Political comments on the rape. This was reported by many other media houses.

9. 25th March 2015: IndiaToday: Right Wing groups arrested in Mumbai church “attack

Journalist Rupa Subramanya, via this tweet raised a point that an India Today report was claiming that people arrested in the Mumbai Church attack, belonged to Right Wing groups. The truth in fact, as reported by multiple news portals, was that the men arrested were gamblers, whose den, which is located near the church was raided recently. On suspicion that the Church ratted them out, they attacked the church. Inspite of knowing this plain truth, India Today’s reported tried to fix the blame on “Right Wing Groups” . Eventually the story was corrected, hence we donot have a screen grab of the original story.

co-founder, OpIndia.com

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