No sooner did the news of Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin emerged as the newest hostpot for coronavirus outbreak, the ‘liberals’ huddled up to absolve the congregation of defying orders and putting public health and safety at risk.
At 12:45 AM on 31 March 2020, The Wire Founder-Editor Siddharth Varadarajan tweeted a link claiming that the Nehru Stadium in Delhi will be converted into quarantine facility. While sharing it, Varadarajan attributed a quote to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Varadarjan claimed that on the day Tablighi Jamaat event was being held, “Adityanath insisted a large Ram Navami fair planned for Ayodhya from March 25 to April 2 would proceed as usual and that ‘Lord Ram would protect devotees from the coronavirus”.
The Wire’s report has very explicitly attributed the quote to Yogi Adityanath.
Netizens took to Twitter to call out the lies of Varadarajan where he not only makes sweeping statements and misattributes statements to UP CM but also gives a clean chit to Tablighi Jamaat.
Swarajya Magazine journalist Arush Tandon in a series of tweets pointed out how Varadarajan blatantly lied.
I assumed that since he has put specific words inside quotes and attributed them to a chief minister, there would be no trouble in finding the full statement on the web. For Varadarajan is a senior journalist.— Arush Tandon (@ArushTandon) April 1, 2020
Tandon says that he Googled the exact phrase used by Varadarajan to see reports where Yogi Adityanath had made such a statement.
As we can see, the first few search results don’t show that the statement was given by Yogi Adityanath. However, the Deccan Herald report does mention similar phrase which is the third search result.
To check the source of The Wire’s attribution to Yogi Adityanath, OpIndia clicked on the article hyperlinked in the original article. It led to an 18 March 2020 article from The Wire, where it had credited Deccan Herald for the same quote.
As it can be seen, The Wire in its original article, was at least honest in attributing the quote to one Mahant Paramhans and not to Yogi Adityanath. Now, here it is imperative to note that as on March 20, 2020, the Ayodhya Mela stood cancelled. Tablighi Jamaat was held on 21st March 2020 even after precautionary measures were taken across the country to limit huge gatherings and practice social distancing.
However, there is more to this.
Who is Mahant Paramhans whose words are being taken at facevalue by the propagandists? On November 17, 2019 Paramhans Das, disciple of Mahant Sarveshwar Das, head of Tapasvi Ki Chhavni, was expelled from the organisation for allegedly making objectionable comments against Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das. Das, whose original name was Uday Narain Das, was a self-proclaimed mahant and ‘jagatguru’ and had never discharged his duties as a saint.
So, essentially, the Founder-Editor of The Wire took quotes of an expelled mahant and misattributed them to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to whitewash the Tablighi Jamaat superspreaders.
The Uttar Pradesh government has now swung into action and has asked Varadarajan to delete his tweet wrongly attributing a quote to UP CM or he the government will initiate action.
झूठ फैलाने का प्रयास ना करे, मुख्यमंत्री योगी आदित्यनाथ जी ने कभी ऐसी कोई बात नहीं कही है। इसे फ़ौरन डिलीट करे अन्यथा इस पर कार्यवाही की जाएगी तथा डिफ़ेमेशन का केस भी लगाया जाएगा। वेबसाईट के साथ-साथ केस लड़ने के लिए भी डोनेशन माँगना पड़ेगा फिर। https://t.co/2rEJmToLIh— Mrityunjay Kumar (@MrityunjayUP) April 1, 2020
“Delete the tweet or we will initiate action including defamation case. Along with asking for donation to run the website, you will also have to ask for money to fight the case,” Mrityunjay Kumar, UP CM’s Media Advisor tweeted.
The Tablighi Jamaat has emerged as the latest hotspot after dozens of COVID-19 positive cases were traced back to Nizamuddin in Delhi where hundreds of Muslims had gathered on 21 March 2020 for three-day Islamic evangelical event. As of 1st April, 2100 Muslims were evacuated from the building in Nizamuddin and sent to isolation ward. Investigation is currently underway and efforts are being made to trace those who had attended as well as those who had come in contact with them.