The Top Media Lies of the year 2015

1. Christians/Churches under attack narrative:

Without a doubt, this was the biggest lie which was spread by Indian MSM in 2015. This major narrative was backed by smaller lies which helped buttress their argument.

a. In February, even though the principal of the Holy Child Auxilium School came out in the open ad said “This is not a case of vandalism, no religious articles have been touched”, Indian media outlets like Times of India and eminent journalists like Barkha Dutt were busy branding it as vandalism and a “church attack”. Eventually in July, the culprit, a school boy, was caught by the police.

b. Then we had the unfortunate robbery and rape in a church in West Bengal. Again Indian Express was busy communalizing the incident and commentators  like Rana Ayyub had even pinned the blame on Mohan Bhagwat. Later it was revealed some Bangladeshis were behind this crime.

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c. We also had a case where India Today reported that a “Right Wing group” was arrested for vandalizing a church in Mumbai, whereas the truth was that some gamblers had been arrested for the same.

These are just 3 such cases which turned  out to be false eventually, More such incidents were summarized here, which had no communal angle to them.

2. The Meat Ban narrative

One of the most hotly debated topics of the year, the meat ban narrative was framed by the media in such a way that BJP Governments in every state were somehow held responsible for various meat bans.

When a few civic bodies in Maharashtra decided to ban meat during a Jain festival, media played it up as a ban endorsed by the state Government. What they did not report is that not a single new order went from the Maharashtra government to any local body. Meat bans were in vogue in Maharashtra since 1964, followed by a resolution in 1994 by Congress which re-iterated the bans and again a resolution in 2002 which extended the ban to 9 days. Secondly, 2 of the 3 civic bodies which declared the bans were not even ruled by BJP, in one case having a NCP-Congress combine in power. And all of them had a history of banning meat.

In another round of propaganda, Media showed that other BJP ruled states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had joined the Meat Ban bandwagon. In Gujarat , meat ban was first enforced in 1960 by CM Jivraj Mehta (Congress) as per Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act (1949). In Rajasthan under Gehlot’s rule, meat ban lasted for 5 days which was reduced now by Vasundhara Raje to 3 days. In Madhya Pradesh meat bans existed on 17 days during the whole year, and had been carried out by successive Governments, both BJP and Congress alike.

There are various instances in the past when even regional parties enforced  Meat-Ban during Paryushan like Mayawati who in 2009, used an SC Order to enforce meat-ban in Uttar Pradesh for 9 days. MNS who is currently opposing Meat-ban also requested such a ban in 2013 during Ekadashi in Pune. But such details never made it to the front page and the narrative was always that BJP had banned meat.

3. Lalit Modi used Sushma Swaraj’s help to go globe trotting.

The Lalit Modi – Sushma Swaraj link was one of the reasons for a large number of days being washed in the Parliament thanks to protests from Congress. One of the underlying points being made was Swaraj’s intervention led to Lalit Modi travelling freely across the world. NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain, in his much hyped show titled “Truth vs Hype”, said this –

“Why did she not sanction only limited travel to Portugal? Lalit Modi used these 2 year travel papers with no conditions, to go globe trotting”

Later, in his hastily drafted letter, which was part of damage control after Lalit Modi exposed him on twitter, Jain once again takes a sly jibe:

“Modi was recently in Cuba, part of his ‘humanitarian’ world tour which also included Madrid, Ibiza and Venice”

Both the times, he deliberately chooses to hide 2 important facts:

1. As per her own public admission on twitter, Susma Swaraj clearly said she only told the British High Commissioner to “examine Lalit Modi’s request as per British rules” and that if “they choose to give travel documents, it wont affect Indo-UK relations”. From this it is clear, unlike what Jain claimed, Swaraj did not “sanction non-Portugal travel” nor did she give him “unconditional travel papers for 2 years”. She only told UK to do as they deem fit. If at all Lalit Modi got such documents for 2 years, it was due to the UK Government

2. Jain also forgot to mention that within a month of such “help” from Swaraj, the Delhi High Court too offered greater “help” to Lalit Modi, by giving him his passport back. So all of his trips post August 2014, could very well have been based on this passport irrespective of Susma Swaraj’s “help”. Why would he need travel papers when he has got his passport back?

By deliberately hiding these two facts, Sreenivasan Jain in effect lied on his show “Truth vs Hype” that Sushma Swaraj allowed Modi to go globetrotting.

4. AAP govt bought onions at Rs 18/kg and sold to Delhiites at Rs 30/kg

We had a separate report on this where we had discussed threadbare how AAP was subjected to this hit-job. In what seems to be a gross misinterpretation of facts , India Today reported that AAP Govt bought onions at Rs 18/kg and sold to Delhiites at Rs 30/kg. This claim was made based on RTI replies. Firstly they did not release the so called RTI replies they saw. Secondly, from what was available in public domain from various sources, it was clear that in fact AAP had bought onions at Rs 32.86/Kg from SFAC and the Rs 18/kg was what SFAC had paid to buy the onions from Mandis. In the hurry to brand the anti-corruption party as corrupt, the media went overboard.

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co-founder, OpIndia.com

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