On Thursday night, Mohammed Ayub Pandith, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) posted in the security wing of the Jammu & Kashmir Police, was lynched by a mob outside Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. The mob suspected him to be a non-Muslim who belonged to security agencies, and caught him while he was reportedly making a video of demonstrations in the area.
According to The Hindu, Ayub was spotted by a group of youngsters while he was making the video, who then dragged him around and beat him to death. Ayub fired from his pistol in self-defence, but the mob overpowered him. The mob raised pro-Pakistan and pro-militant slogans after stripping him naked and stoning him to death.
A gruesome incident of mob lynching was however given a ‘context’ by NDTV, which reported it with a headline that read ‘Man Opens Fire Outside Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid, Killed By Mob’.
There was no mention of the man being a cop in the headline and it suggested some ‘action-reaction’ as the reason why a person died. The snippets given alongside the headline too suggested as if the death was because an angry mob beat up a person who opened fire at them:
This was posted around a time when the details of the incident were already available. For example, the following tweet sent out by the Jammu & Kashmir police had clarified that a policeman on duty was killed by the mob:
Another officer sacrificed his life in line of duty DySP Mohammed Ayub Pandith of Security beaten to death by mob at #Nowhatta last night.
— J&K Police (@JmuKmrPolice) June 23, 2017
The headline and description by NDTV perplexed and angered many, who argued that it was a narrative that attempted to whitewash a grave crime. Around an hour later, NDTV finally changed the headline to ‘Police Officer Beaten To Death By Mob Outside Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid’.
Now the snippets finally suggested that the cop, who was just an unknown man earlier for the NDTV, “may have opened fire in self-defence”:
— NDTV (@ndtv) June 23, 2017
This is not for the first time that the NDTV has been caught spinning information to create a counter narrative. Last month, Youth Congress workers had butchered a young cow in broad daylight in Kerala’s Kannur district. But while reporting the incident, NDTV changed the Cow to Buffalo, and finally to an Ox in its news reports, thus guaranteeing that Congress was not accused of cow-slaughter.