Ever since the abrogation of Article 370, the Congress party and various groups have approached the Supreme Court regarding the partial communication blockade that was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. In court today, Kapil Sibal defended a fallacious report by IndiaSpend to spread canards and lies about the situation in Kashmir.
Earlier in the day, the Solicitor General justified the communication blockage by saying that “Unfortunately, internet jihadi is a successful one. It is a global phenomenon. The jihadi leaders can engage through the internet to spread hatred and illegal activities”. The arguments were being held during the ongoing case of a batch of petitions filed by Kashmir Times Editor, Anuradha Bhasin and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, with respect to restrictions on communication and other issues in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kapil Sibal too appeared in the court today to make rejoinder arguments for the petitioners. Interestingly, during his arguments, Sibal kept contradicting himself repeatedly. He first said that children are not being able to go to school, and then went on to say that it is being said that 98% of children attended their board exams. But instead of contradicting that statistic, Sibal went on to ask ‘What choice did they have?’.
Kapil Sibal then said, “So many people are carrying our their businesses through internet and internet is shut. And the internet is not social media alone. Block specific sites or social network sites but there is no occasion to block other things”.
Next, Kapil Sibal made rejoinder arguments against SG Tushar Mehta who had cited an OpIndia report to debunk a faulty IndiaSpend report that was cited by the petitioners to allege that Kashmiris did not have access to healthcare in the valley.
The IndiaSpend report had twisted data from aa 2015 survey to allege that mental health issues were on the rise post the abrogation of article 370.
The OpIndia report that Solicitor General was referring to in the Supreme Court was an article which debunked the lies spread by IndiaSpend and The Wire after the abrogation of Article 370. In the article, IndiaSpend had twisted data and laced it with lies to claim that mental health issues were on the rise in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
In a section with the subheading, “Patients reluctant, unable to access healthcare”, Wire quotes fake news IndiaSpend to say that patients have not been able to access healthcare since August 5th 2019 so as to give the impression that even though Kashmiris are facing mental health issues due to the abrogation, they are not being able to get themselves treated. However, they follow it up in the same section by stating “Even in a normal situation, few people access mental healthcare, in particular”. In that case, how did The Wire and India Spend manage to tie it to the abrogation of Article 370 is a mystery yet to be solved.
The article went on to say that after the abrogation of Article 370 in August, 44.5% fewer patients visited IMHANS compared to July. However, they also say that this data is inconclusive as the number of patients was even lower in May. However, interestingly, the highest mental health issues reported in Kashmir was in July, a month before the abrogation of Article 370. The lowest was in May.
The entire article essentially had tried to confuse the readers to insinuate that firstly, patients are unable to access healthcare facilities and secondly, that due to that, mental health issues are on the rise post abrogation of article 370. OpIndia had shown that both these claims per that article were fallacious.
Kapil Sibal went on to defend this wildly fallacious report by IndiaSpend.
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) November 26, 2019
Sibal: When I depended on IndiaSpend, govt said it was a fake news website. They hailed OpIndia as a fact checker.
Sibal produces in court the Wikipedia description of OpIndia as an Indian news and opinion portal “ideologically oriented to right-wing”#JammuKashmir
— Krishnadas Rajagopal (@kdrajagopal) November 26, 2019
Kapil Sibal stood in court and defamed OpIndia baselessly, while citing a Wikipedia page, to defend a fallacious report by IndiaSpend.
What is little known is that IndiaSpend has an inextricable connection to Congress. Praveen Chakravarty, the head of Congress party’s data analytics department, is a founding trustee at IndiaSpend. The website of IndiaSpend, however, does not mention him as one. Praveen Chakravarty got appointed as the head of Congress party’s data analytics department in February 2018 and after a brief spat post the 2019 poll debacle of Congress party, was set to make a come back into Congress. One must ask the question – why IndiaSpend doesn’t mention that Praveen Chakravarty is the founding trustee of IndiaSpend? Is it so people are unaware of the websites Congress connections?
Kapil Sibal’s ire against OpIndia is not surprising or unexpected. In March 2018, OpIndia had raised several questions regarding his dubious financial dealings with a tainted businessman.
In our story, we had questioned whether Kapil Sibal and his wife Promila Sibal bought a company named Grande Castello limited pretty cheap – possibly at the value of the paid-up capital of the company i.e. 1 lakh rupees – because the company had huge liabilities and the major asset it had – a piece of land in New Delhi municipal area – was devalued prior to Sibals acquiring the company.
Kapil Sibal, after refusing to answer OpIndia’s questions and making several u-turns regarding his explanation had threatened to sue OpIndia on national television. After that, Kapil Sibal had even sent OpIndia set of questions, threatening that if they are not answered, OpIndia would be dragged to the courts. Opindia had answered those questions and while Kapil Sibal never reverted, the grudge seems to be deep.
Kapil Sibal today essentially defended blatant fake news by a portal whose founding trustee is associated with the Congress party to malign web portal that had dared to ask him questions about his seemingly dubious financial dealings. The report by OpIndia clearly outlined how the IndiaSpend report was wildly off the mark when it came to Kashmir and healthcare.
It is typical “liberal” behaviour to indulge in character assassination without provided any proof to further an argument. When “liberals” are asked questions, they often fall back on accusations and expletives that have nothing to do with the question at all. That Kapil Sibal chose to lash out at OpIndia pales in comparison to the disservice he has done to the cause of the nation by validating fake news about Kashmir.