As the Tablighi Jamaat which met in Delhi at Nizamuddin during the first 2 weeks of March has become the epicentre of the Novel Coronavirus spread in the country, media has started reporting how much of the total Covid-19 cases in the country is related to the congregation. In this regard. India Today’s news director Rahul Kanwal had posted an infographic on Twitter last night which was then deleted. Rahul Kanwal claimed that the infographic was deleted due to incorrect data and typos. However, since the infographic tracking Tablighi Jamaat Coronavirus cases had a depiction of a Muslim man wearing a skull cap, many believed that the infographic was deleted because Rahul Kanwal essentially got scared of the allegations of ‘Islamophobia’.
Now, Rahul Kanwal seems to prove suspicions true that one of the major reasons for the infographic to be deleted was indeed the digital depiction of a skull cap-wearing man. Hours after the infographic was deleted, Rahul Kanwal took to Twitter to upload the picture again. However, certain things were distinctly different.
56% of new #CoronaVirus cases reported in India over past 72 hours can be traced back to Tablighi Jamaat. This is India’s version of South Korea’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus which led to 7000+ cases in that country. Jamaat responsible for 28% of India’s overall cases so far. pic.twitter.com/sfuXbdBw6H— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) April 4, 2020
A simple comparison of the previous picture and the current one makes certain things clear. Firstly, the total number of cases, which was earlier misquoted as 1162 was changed to 2301, the correct figure.
The second change was slightly more subtle, however, was very revealing of how India Today and Rahul Kanwal function.
What one notices is that the horizontal lines that gave the impression that the graphic of a man in the picture was wearing a skull cap had disappeared.
While it may be claimed that it is a minor design change, one has to realise that every design change has a specific purpose to it. The purpose here is to clearly ensure that the graphic in the Tablighi Jamaat infographic does not look like it has depicted a Muslim man wearing a skull cap.
In fact, the current picture after removing the lines not just makes the picture look “less Muslim” but one can argue that it sanitises the truth completely. If one looks closely, the picture that is used now (without the horizontal lines) may as well be that of a doctor or a nurse working to fight the cases of Wuhan Coronavirus wearing their face mask and medical cap.
Ideally, however, if the India Today had not chickened out and edited the image, the depiction would be akin to this:
It is also interesting to note that in addition to sanitising the picture of its “Muslim look”, an important factual error has not been removed. Both the charts also mention unnecessary data points, perhaps to make it look data heavy to show the ‘intelligence’ of DIU. While the chart says the share of Tablighi Jamaat in new positive cases in the country is 56%, it also mentions that it is ‘almost 60%’. Similarly, it says that share of the Islamic group in the total positive cases for India is 28%, and nearly 30%. When the infographic is already giving the exact numbers, to give ‘nearly’, and ‘almost’ numbers are completely unnecessary.
It is thus clear that the India Today’s edited version not only leaves out some blatant errors in the information provided, but also “secularises” the graphic to as to not hurt the sentiments of the forever-hurt Islamists of India.