Human Rights Watch (HRW), self-proclaimed defenders of human rights, on Monday published a report titled ‘Violent Cow Protection in India’ claiming that since the BJP came to power in 2014, the party members have “increasingly used communal rhetoric that has spurred a violent vigilante campaign against beef consumption and those deemed linked to it”.
The report asserts that the attacks led by “so-called cow protection groups” many of which claim to be “affiliated to militant Hindu groups that often have ties to the BJP”. “Their victims are largely Muslim or from Dalit (formerly known as “untouchables”) and Adivasi (indigenous) communities,” the report further states.
HRW cites faulty ‘fact-checker’ with the dubious and incomplete database, factchecker.in, for their report. The New York Times, which had earlier referred to saree as the ‘tool of Hindu nationalist campaign‘ piggybacked on the faulty report based on faulty data to peddle the narrative that the “murders of religious minorities in India go unpunished”.
Journalist Swati Goel Sharma, who seems to have taken it upon herself as a personal mission to call out factchecker.in’s faulty database, took to Twitter to call out the flawed data.
Hi @nytimesworldnd, @Kai_Schultz, I am a journalist from India. I hv done quite a few reports on how your source, https://t.co/PqotPXT2dy, is not reliable at all and is even creating enmity between groups thru flawed data. You may like to know your source a lil better.
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) February 20, 2019
We have earlier reported how IndiaSpend’s fact-checking website, factchecker.in in its cow-related hate crimes database, the very one which was relied upon by HRW and in-turn NYTimes, was incomplete, flawed and heavily biased. The report had mentioned how 90% of such crimes took place after Modi took office as Prime Minister. However, the database had hardly included any cow-related violence before Modi took office in its database from 2009 to 2018.
But the mainstream media has been actively promoting how the ‘cow-related’ violence has increased in India after Modi came to power. Abhishek Banerjee, a columnist with OpIndia, had written about how IndiaSpend (the same people who run the ‘factchecker’) have regularly indulged in peddling this narrative. They had earlier filed a report how 87 people had died in cow-related violence since 2010, of which 97% of the crimes happened after Modi came to power. The above ‘interactive fact-check’ map is an extension of the same report’. As can be seen even then that their ‘research’ was based on ‘Google search’ with particular keywords.
In fact, the bias is so heavy, that despite their own ground reporter who went on a fact-finding mission for an incident reported as ‘hate crime’ and finding out that there was no communal angle to the incident, factchecker.in had not even removed the ‘hate crime’ from their database after over a week. This, when the media report on basis of which the ‘hate crime’ was added to the database clearly stated that there was no communal angle. To summarize, an incident takes place in Meerut where a bunch of Muslim men attack a boy over a game of cricket. FIR is filed. To settle scores on this FIR, a fake story is created by Abid, a Muslim man, claiming that he was thrashed. Police investigated and concluded that no attack took place on Abid and he had acted on his employer’s instruction. This part is included in the Times of India report as well, which factchecker.in had taken as a base report for their ‘hate-crime tracker’.
That NYTimes carried out the report, without following basic due diligence and journalistic ethics does not come as much of a surprise. In the past, too, NYTimes has exploited children’s deaths to malign Yogi Government’s crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh. In an op-ed about India that was centred around the CBI raids at the residences of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the founder promoters of NDTV. The editorial was titled ‘India’s Battered Free Press’ which read like a textbook case of how it has been distorting the truth.
NYTimes’ former Delhi bureau chief Ellen Barry had also indulged in white-washing the 2002 Godhra carnage where as many as 59 people were burnt alive in a train. She had also spread lies to insult the victims of Godhra carnage in her report on the Gulbarg Society verdict. NYTimes also encourages troll-like behaviour while reporting on democratically elected public representatives where being ‘liberal’ is associated with smoking, drinking and Hindu woman having Muslim friends and boyfriend.