How Indian media lied to defame India on issue of Sri Lankan ODI players being recalled

Just when one thinks Indian media has set the bar low enough, they decide to set it lower. The India Sri Lanka series may be a bit of a bore considering the one sided matches and the fixture fatigue, but one issue became a hot topic of discussion: Sri Lankan players took the field at the Delhi stadium for the 3rd test, with pollution masks on.

Thus, Delhi’s pollution, India’s apathy, and how the Lankan players’ action was an insult to India became the talking point. And once the media has a narrative (read Christians under attack etc), they actively search for more stories which help further the narrative, and even retrofit unconnected stories (egs demonetization deaths) to further the set narrative.

Thus, when news broke out that Sri Lanka’s sports minister had recalled the ODI team from the Lankan airport itself, Indian media got into action and added their own unverified spin:

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The above reports were based on a Times Now report, which went for the jugular, squarely blaming the smog for the team being recalled:

The misinformation was across the board as Deputy Executive Editor, CNN-News18 Zakka Jacob, also added fuel to the fire by making similar claims (tweet was later deleted):

So while Indian media was busy defaming India, the Sri Lankan media had covered the same issue, giving the detailed explanation for the same. A report in the Lankan media clarified that the Sports Minister had recalled the team since the team was leaving without his approval, which was a blatant violation of the country’s sports law which requires Sports Minister’s approval.

The report claimed that Sri Lanka Cricket sent the team composition for ministry approval yesterday evening, which gave the Minister less than 12 hours to sanction it. The minister was quoted as saying:

“How can I approve a team at such short notice? If you go by the Sports Law, it requires the list to be sent three weeks prior to leaving. Here, they are sending a team just three to four hours before leaving the country. So I had to recall them. I have nothing against the players. In fact, Thisara called me last night from the flight and said, ‘Sir we have already boarded’. But I told him, ‘Nothing doing’. If I allowed them to go, I am setting a precedent here. They can go tonight but I want to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The report gave another angle to the issue, saying that sources claimed that the Board wanted the selectors to reconsider their decision to omit Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Perera from the squad.

But there was no mention of any “smog” issue. Perhaps this was because, smog was a problem in Delhi, and there is not a single ODI scheduled in Delhi!

The funniest part in this saga is, Times Now, which had gone on the aggressive, in the same bulletin carried a telephone conversation with the Director of Cricket Operations in Sri Lanka, who went on record to make similar claims that it was Sri Lanka’s internal administrative issue. Then why the hurry to declare smog as the villain?

What does this indicate? The race to break news leading to erroneous reports? A lack of care for proper reporting? Or finding incidents to suit a narrative which one wants to peddle?

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