Students from Delhi University’s Gargi College had alleged that they were molested and sexually harassed during their annual festival ‘Reverie’. The college administration had accepted a lax in security and subsequently, an FIR was registered by the Delhi Police in connection with the incident on the 10th of February. As deplorable as the whole incident was, it had captured national attention after it was alleged that the criminal actions were committed by BJP supporters carrying saffron flags while chanting Jai Shree Ram.
Ultimately, the allegations regarding the political affiliations of the perpetrators fell flat when the Delhi Police stated after an investigation that the evidence from CCTV footage did not show any of the accused carrying flags. It was also revealed that the investigations had not hinted towards the political affiliations of the perpetrators. “They all are either college students or their friends,” the Delhi Police had said while rejecting allegations that the attackers were from BJP and RSS.
One ‘journalist’ who was intrinsic towards fueling the fake news regarding the political affiliations of the perpetrators was Shweta Sengar of India Times. She has formerly been associated with Catch News and Economic Times. On the Gargi College incident, she had written a report headlined “Gagri College Girls allege a group of men chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ entered campus & molested them”. The report has garnered over seven thousand shares across platforms.
As it so happens, Shweta Sengar has a history of peddling fake news and invariably the fake news only slanders a particular community and hurts the electoral prospects of one single political party. Surely, her propagandist tendencies cannot be attributed to incompetence alone as if it were the only reason, then the incompetence would have affected all sides equally. The score could not have been zero for a particular political spectrum if incompetence were the single determinant factor.
Shweta Sengar has a history of spreading fake news on politically charged matters. For instance, during the Lok Sabha elections last year, she spun a communal tone around an instance of random crime. India Times was forced to correct their report after OpIndia exposed that the person was not beaten because of his Muslim identity on Iftar. Her political bias became further evident when her report failed to mention that dancers were harassed at an event in Assam organized for Eid. Instead, the report just called it a ‘cultural event’. Thus, we see a pattern here. False narratives are invented to slander Hindu religious sentiments and whitewash the sins of Muslim fundamentalists.
Through her work for India Times, it leads one to believe that Shweta Sengar is either the propagandist-in-chief at the media outlet or that her specific job at the media outlet is to spin yarns. For instance, on cop Rakesh Maria’s revelations about Ajmal Kasab, Shweta Sengar did not find the fact that the plan was for the Mumbai Terrorist to die as a Hindu to invent ‘Hindu Terrorism’ as the most stunning revelation. Instead, according to Sengar, the most stunning revelation was the revelation that Kasab was forced to say Bharat Mata ki Jai.
Another report headlined “Shocking! UP Poet Served A Rs 1 Crore Notice For Cost Of Police Deployment During CAA Protest”, the fact that the poet in question was Imran Pratapgrhi, a leader of the Congress party, was conveniently left out of the headline. The headline also fails to mention that the concerned protests were organized without due permission and was in violation of section 144 imposed for the security of people in the state. The headline also gives people the impression that the action of the UP Police was uncalled for even though Pratapgarhi stands accused of inciting people.
Consistent with her trajectory, when political analyst Gunja Kapoor was heckled by the Shaheen Bagh protesters for filming their protest wearing a Burkha, Shweta Sengar’s report whitewashed the sins of the protesters and portrayed Gunja Kapoor in poor light. Despite the ordeal Gunja Kapoor suffered, Sengar’s report makes it seem like she deserved it thoroughly.
Unsurprisingly, the ‘journalist’ also wrote a fawning report on how Aysha Renna was ‘smashing stereotypes’. Aysha Renna is one of Barkha Dutt’s Jamia ‘sheroes’ who called India fascist for executing terrorist Yakub Memon. The report does not mention Renna or her friend Ladeeda Sakhaloon’s extremely problematic opinions even once.
Sakhaloon, for instance, had called for Jihad days before riots broke out in Delhi and even glorified the genocidal maniacs behind the Mapillah massacres. This report was published on the 22nd of December 2019, almost a week after their problematic opinions became known to the public.
Shweta Sengar has published numerous other reports with outlandish headlines such as “Only In India! Karnataka Temples Perform Special Puja To Save People From Coronavirus” and others. More than Sengar herself, her consistent whitewashing of events and slandering of Hindu sentiments amidst other political propaganda reflects poorly on India Times itself. It appears quite obvious that Sengar’s kind of ‘journalism’ has official sanction from the editorial board of India Times.
Amusingly enough, India Times is owned by Times Internet Limited, the digital arm of Times Group, the same group that publishes The Times of India and owns Times Now and is touted as India’s largest media conglomerate.