CNN-News18 journalist spreads fake news about gang-rape over beef eating in UP

In what appears to be an attempt to portray that gau-rakshaks (cow vigilantes) are running amok in Uttar Pradesh without any fear of law, Pallavi Ghosh, a journalist with news channel CNN-News18 today tweeted about an alleged incident from UP wherein a woman was apparently gang-raped for eating beef:

The tweet did not provide any other details about the alleged incident e.g. when and where in UP it happened. The journalist did not post any follow up tweet providing more details. The news channel where she works as a senior political editor also did not report any incident of gang-rape form UP today.

By evening, Uttar Prades Police took cognizance of her tweet, investigated about the alleged incident and clarified on Twitter that the said incident was “fictional”:

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However even after getting caught for spreading lies, the journalist did not delete her tweet or re-tweet the clarification by UP Police so that her Twitter followers know about the truth. Instead she insinuated that UP Police endorsed ‘abuse’ directed towards her:

The conduct of the journalist shocked common people as she showed no remorse, and rather went on to accuse UP Police. People demanded that she be booked for spreading lies and communal disharmony.

It appears that the journalist picked up bits of her lie from a tweet by another TV journalist named Sagarika Ghose, who had posted a similar tweet yesterday. Sagarika had tweeted a link to a report dated 12 September 2016 in an website named The Independent about an alleged incident of gang-rape in Mewat, Haryana. The said report had quoted another NDTV report, in which the victims of the alleged gang-rape had said that they were raped for eating beef:

However, even back then Haryana police had debunked the beef angle just a day later, i.e. on 13 September 2016.

Why Sagarika tweeted about the incident 8 months later even though the ‘beef’ part of the story is suspect, is a mystery. Similar to Pallavi Ghosh, Sagarika also did not provide any context or clarification. Neither did she clarify that the beef angle was debunked by the police.

These two tweets beg the question whether this is plain incompetence of our some journalists to do basic fact-check before tweeting, or it is part of a larger propaganda to flare communal tensions in the country.

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