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Propaganda website AltNews gives clean chit to Tahir Hussain, prime accused in Ankit Sharma murder, based on shoddy ‘evidence’: Read details

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

After it had emerged that AAP leader Tahir Hussain was one of the main organisers behind the riots in North East Delhi last week, Islamists and left-liberal ecosystem have gone overboard in defending him. Even after stones, petrol bombs, acid packs, improvised slingshots to hurl petrol bombs etc were recovered from Tahir’s building after the riots, and videos had emerged showing hundreds of people throwing stones and petrol bombs from the roof of the building with Tahir supervising the attacks, Islamists want people to believe that he is innocent. Leftist propaganda site AltNews, which calls itself a fact-checker, has jumped into the bandwagon to give a clean chit to Tahir Hussain.

They have published an article to refute allegations that the AAP leader had posted an edited video, but now several people have questioned the arguments they have used to defend Tahir Hussain.

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The matter relates to a video posted by AAP spokesperson Prince Soni on 27 February where Tahir Hussain was making an appeal to the police to control the riots, amid violence going on in the background. He had alleged that rioters had forcefully entered and vandalised his house. Although the video was posted a day after the riots were brought under control, Prince had claimed that it was recorded during the riots.

After the video was posted, several persons on Twitter had claimed that it was doctored. It was alleged that Tahir Hussain had recorded his statement after the riots were over in an indoor setting with a green screen as a background, and footage from riots was added in the background using video editing tools. Several persons had overserved that while Tahir’s statement was seemed to have recorded using a tripod as his footage was stable, the background was shaking and moving, typical of recording using a handheld device.

It was pointed out by social media users that Tahir Hussain runs an advertisement company named Show Effect Advt. Pvt. Ltd, where they do all kind of video editing, therefore they have the resources and expertise to this kind of manipulation.

In the AltNews article defending the AAP leader, they have written that they spoke with AAP spokesperson Deepak Bajpai who informed that the video was sent him by Hussain on 24 February. As a proof, Bajpai recorded a video showing the Tahir’s video sent to him on WhatsApp on 24 February. Showing the phone screen, Bajpai had said he was sent the video at 6.44 PM on 24th February.

Bajpai said that the video was made for Aaj Tak channel after the channel’s reporter Sushant Mehra had contacted him to talk about the riots.

Taking the claims of AAP spokesperson Deepak Bajpai as absolute truth, AltNews says his claims are proven true as both India Today and Aaj Tak had reported the claims of Tahir Hussain in their news reports. Although AltNews links to a live update page by India Today saying that the page says, “5:57 pm: Protesters enter the residence of AAP’s Nehru Vihar corporator Mohd. Tahir Hussain and damaged the property,” it seems India Today has removed that update now as it no longer available in the page. But a Tweet saying the same is still there on India Today’s Twitter handle.

Read- AltNews tries to shield Jamia rioters, netizens demand complaint be filed with IFCN

Although Aaj Tak and India Today did reported the claims of Tahir Hussain, they didn’t air the video which supposed to have been sent to them on 24th February. They didn’t even mention any video sent to them, the correspondent only says that he had talked to Tahir Hussain.

In this age of TRP war, it is a big surprise that India Today and Aaj Tak chose not to air a video message of an AAP leader, appealing police to maintain order. But AltNews didn’t find it suspicious that both the channels didn’t show the video before 27 even after they were allegedly sent the video by Tahir Hussain.

Coming to the date on WhatsApp message, as many Twitter users have pointed out, that is not a definite proof as the date on the device can be changed easily. To illustrate this, Twitter user @pokershash posted an edited video where the video of Tahir can be seen sent on WhatsApp on 6th February, three weeks before the riots in Delhi.

AltNews also posted a higher resolution version of the video they have received from AAP, and they say that they could not spot any sign of video being edited. But there are several things in the video that raises doubt. Tahir Hussain was speaking outside, of the terrace of his building, with apparently riots going on in the area. He was neither holding a microphone nor wearing a lapel mic, still, his voice was crystal clear. The audio quality even in low-resolution videos on social media is very good, suggesting recording inside a studio using professional equipment. When recording outdoors, the voice quality is usually not that clear, as lots of background noises are captured by the microphone. In a riot situation with guns firing in background, the noise will be much more, but still, Tahir Hussain’s video had no such problem.

Read- AAP councillor Tahir Hussain behind Ankit Sharma’s death, body thrown from mosque into drain: Ankit’s father alleges in FIR

The video also remains doubtful, as while Tahir Hussain remains in the same position, the background behind him moves, suggesting that both videos were shot separately which were combined later. It is alleged that a technique called Chroma Key was used while making the video. In this technique, the subject is shot in front of a green screen, or any other solid colour screen. From this video, the background, which is the green or any other solid colour, is removed using video editing software, and it is then superimposed on the background video, making the impression that the subject was present in the location of the background video.

Therefore, while AltNews concludes that the video was indeed shot on February 24, there is no solid proof to back that claim. The so-called fact-checker gave a clean chit to the AAP leader based on non-reliable and dubious sources. They chose to believe the version of an AAP spokesperson who will obviously defend their party leader, and relied on video of a smartphone which can be easily manipulated. They also didn’t question why two major news channels didn’t air the video when the video was allegedly shot for the channels and was sent to them on 24th February. The news reports quoted by AltNews also mention only ‘talk’ with Tahir Hussain, and don’t mention any video message.

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