On 19th July, various media outlets carried news reports that suggested that non-vegetarian food was being banned in entire Greater Noida of Uttar Pradesh, until after the annual Kanwar Yatra was complete:
— NBT Dilli (@NBTDilli) July 19, 2017
Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage on foot, which many Shiv devotes take part in. Apart form this, many devotees, including those not taking part in this yatra, avoid non-vegetarian food during the Hindu month of shravan. However, there is no ban on others having non-veg food, including any Hindu who wants to during this period.
Apart from Navbharat Times, India Today too reported that local roadside vendors and restaurant owners had been instructed by the police to not prepare non-vegetarian food as Kanwariyas prefer only pure vegetarian food. The report also claimed that the police had gone on an inspection where they asked roadside Dhabas serving non-veg food to shut down for a week.
The report then very comfortably concluded that:
Basically, any shops or restaurants or dhabas that were offering eggs, chicken, fish and mutton have now been shut down. You can only find vegetarian food on the streets of Greater Noida now.
Various netizens took the report at face value and protested:
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) July 20, 2017
Even a columnist with an international publication, who is abnormally gullible in believing any unverified information that gets pushed by the mainstream media, started outraging:
Could someone please explain this to me: Do yatris get to dictate dietary choices on their path every year or is this something new? Thanks. https://t.co/kEnMummYHy
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) July 20, 2017
To be fair, the outrage based on news reports, especially the headlines, was understandable as banning non-veg food completely from an entire city was a step too harsh and far-fetched. Also, shutting down all the non-veg serving shops, restaurants and Dhabas for a week would not just hit the businesses hard, it would also inconvenience many local citizens who might want to consume non-veg food.
But as they say, “something which sounds too far-fetched, usually is”, this reporting too was a case of media exaggeration.
Soon after the news started getting viral, the twitter account of UP Police promptly put out the truth in order to quell further rumour mongering:
— NOIDA POLICE (@noidapolice) July 20, 2017
As clarified by the police, it is a tradition that during Kanwar Yatra and Mahashivratri, roadside stalls serving non-veg near temples and on the main yatra route are asked to move a bit away from that area. Also the shops serving non-veg food are asked not do display non-veg publicly only to honour the religious sentiments of the yatris.
So not only is there no ban on sale of non-veg food, there was not any diktat to close any shop or restaurants that served it. Plus, this phenomenon is witnessed every year in Greater Noida and is not something which has been introduced after the Yogi government came to power.
In order to further probe the issue, a few journalists, who care for facts, went on the ground to assess the situation. This is something what the India Today and Navabharat Times people should have ideally done before filing their exaggerated reports.
One journalist stated that she talked to various meat shop owners who reiterated that there was no ban on sale of any kind:
I just checked with a few meat shops in Gr Noida, like Friends Meat Shop, & they denied there is a stop on sale of these items in next week
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) July 20, 2017
Even senior journalist Kanchan Gupta posted a picture of his grocery bill dated 20th July, in which he had brought 25 eggs from a shop in Greater Noida:
— কাঞ্চন গুপ্ত (@KanchanGupta) July 20, 2017
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsRecent days have seen a spurt of such hard to believe fake news by the mainstream media. Recently we had busted reports of Madhya Pradesh government hospitals hiring astrologers for treating patients and the reports which claimed that the Yogi government had slashed secondary and higher education budget by 90%.
It must again be reiterated here that you must not believe any WhatsApp forward or Facebook status blindly, but at the same time, never believe any mainstream media report blindly too. Unfortunately, you will have to put in some extra efforts to find the truth, as some journalists have refused to put in that effort.