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Fact-Check: Two opposite headlines in two weeks, is The Print’s criticism of Statue of Unity valid?

This simply exposes the kind of adulation that The Print harbours for their own propaganda and the terrible lack of editorial standards of a portal that is run by the Chief of the Editor's Guild of India.

The ‘liberal’ cabal has proved that other than the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, any honour bestowed to any other great leader will cause them to almost self-combust. They talk tall about how the Modi government is trying to ‘erase the memory of Nehru’ by simply turning the Nehru Museum into a tribute for all our past Prime Ministers, and also, write outlandish and idiotic op-eds trashing the Statue of Unity which is a tribute to the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel. This crusade has almost been led by Shekhar Gupta and his website, The Print.

In the quest to somehow belittle the tallest statue in the world dedicated to one of the tallest leaders in the world, Shekhar Gupta’s The Print went completely off the handle.

They published an asinine article by a YouTube blogger, Dhruv Rathee that peddled a fallacious narrative of how it would take 200 years to recover the cost of the statue via the tickets it sold. That calculation itself was debunked considering ticket sales amounted to Rs.  2.1 crores in just the first 10 days. Even so, his argument was based on a false hypothesis and we had debunked that lie earlier.

Shekhar Gupta’s The Print then upped the ante by publishing another ridiculous article. The article was written by one Soniya Agarwal.

The article basically hypothesised that since the Statue of Unity has been constructed in such a “remote location” that it can’t be considered a tourist spot. The author said that it cannot be considered a tourist spot because there are no direct flights and the closest airport is a 100 kms away. Because, of course, tourism is only for the perfumed elite who would want to be airdropped in direct flights and not for average joes who don’t mind taking the bus or the train.

Either way, the author concluded that owing to the distance, the Statue of Unity will not become a tourist spot at all.

This article was published on 31st October. This was the very day the statue was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi.

As already mentioned, following the ridiculous assumptions by The Print led by Shekhar Gupta the Statue of Unity ended up attracting 1 lakh visitors in just 10 days.

With their initial hypothesis being proven as nonsense, The Print decided that it just had to come out with another idiotic article that trumped the idiocy of the previous articles and in the process, debunked their own previous idiocy.

The same author, Soniya Agarwal wrote another article published in Shekhar Gupta’s The Print today that in essence debunked her previous article where she said that the Statue of Unity can never turn into a tourist spot owing to its location.

The article by Soniya in The Print now talks about how the management at Statue of Unity is overwhelmed by the sheer number of tourists.

She writes, “According to officials, 27,000 tourists visited the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, deemed the ‘Iron Man of India’, Saturday, with the footfall dipping slightly to 24,000 Sunday”.

She writes about how the queues are extremely long and how this has led to many arguments between the tourists and management.

She then writes, “The condition of the site has deteriorated within two weeks of its inauguration due to a lack of amenities. At the entry of the ground, which houses the statue, visitors were greeted by drying shrubs and plastic bottles”.

She has, of course, not provided any proof, whether photographs or otherwise for this assertion other than one statement from one supposed tourist.

Soniya Agarwal’s second article in The Print, which debunks her own earlier article in the same publication, is again a litany of assertions that have no proof to back it up. It also goes to prove that The Print has absolutely no editorial standards. The previous article where Soniya claimed that the Statue of Unity can never become a tourist spot has no update telling its readers that their assertions have been proven wrong by the revenue, tourist visit numbers and their latest article.

The Print, essentially, instead of accepting their mistake have published another article that only trashes the Statue of Unity by hook or by crook.

This simply exposes the kind of adulation that The Print harbours for their own propaganda and the terrible lack of editorial standards of a portal that is run by the Chief of the Editor’s Guild of India.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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