Media outlet CNN News 18 has withdrawn the story it had based on its interview with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where they had misquoted and misinterpreted his quote on Ladakh standoff.
On Tuesday, Defence Rajnath Singh, speaking to Network 18 journalist Amish Devgan, addressed concerns regarding the current stand-off between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which has escalated tensions between the two countries.
In the interview, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also acknowledged that China had moved troops in significant numbers near the LAC during the ongoing stand-off. The Defence Minister also expressed hope to resolve the stand-off through diplomatic and military level talks.
Union Minister had also confirmed regarding the large presence of Indian troops to counter Chinese aggression on the LAC and assured that the government will not let anyone hurt country’s self-respect.
In the below video, at 0:50 mins, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh refers to differing perceptions of LAC between both China and India while noting about the presence of Chinese troops across LAC. Most importantly, the Defence Minister did not answer or confirm anything regarding presence of Chinese troops the LAC to enter the Indian territory.
However, the usual suspects in the media claimed that the Defence Minister in the interview to Network 18 admitted that a “sizeable number” of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had entered Indian territory, especially into areas in eastern Ladakh despite there were no such statements made by Rajnath Singh in the interview.
Soon, self-proclaimed ‘defence experts’ indulged in a misinformation campaign to target the Modi government over the alleged statements made by the Defence Minister to insinuate that the government allowed China to disrespect India’s sovereignty by allowing the PLA troops to enter eastern Ladakh.
‘The Wire‘ did not waste any time to report misleading statements by attributing false statements to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, which he had never made in the first place.
Even other media outlets like Outlook, Business Standard, Economic Times and Scroll also made similar claims stating Defence Minister had admitted to the entering of Chinese troops inside Indian territory near Eastern Ladakh.
Ajai Shukla, a known conspiracy theorist of the Congress era, brazened out to peddle the same misinformation to claim that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh publicly admitted that Chinese soldiers had crossed into India’s side of the LAC in large numbers.
Shukla, who has been pushing false information on social media ever since the current stand-off started between two countries, took to Twitter to state that he was glad that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh publicly accepted what he was saying from the last few days. Ajai Shukla, since few days, has been pushing pro-Chinese narrative claiming China has set in camps, deployed large number of troops. Shukla had also claimed that there was an incursion by the Chinese troops into Indian territory.
The misleading claims made by certain media outlets and self-proclaimed security experts were in fact debunked by credible experts immediately.
Later in the day, the official fact-checking agency PIB took to Twitter to fact-check claims made by ‘defence expert’ Ajai Shukla and categorically denied that no such statement was issued by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claiming Chinese troops had crossed Indian territory in Eastern Ladakh.
The PIB fact-checked Shukla to state that the Rajnath Singh was referring to differing perceptions of LAC and the presence of Chinese troops, which was misinterpreted as if Chinese troops entered the Indian side of LAC.
Soon after PIB fact-checked Ajai Shukla, the Network 18 itself clarified that their story based on an exclusive interview with Rajnath Singh was an error. The media network said that the headline and story inadvertently said, “Sizeable Number of Chinese Troops Moved into Eastern Ladakh, says Defence Minister Rajnath Singh“.
However, Network 18 said that the minister did not refer to Eastern Ladakh in the interview. “The error is regretted, and the story stands withdrawn,” the network issued corrigendum.
Despite all the clarifications, video evidence that there was no such statement issued by Rajnath Singh admitting that there was sizeable number of Chinese troops allegedly entering the Indian side, the media and the self-proclaimed ‘security experts’ have neither deleted their misleading tweets/reports nor issued a clarification for the same.