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Times of India publishes response by Police to their article on Delhi Riots as ‘letter to editor’: How TOI is deceiving its readers

The media has often sliced and diced the truth to ensure that their readers get only a portion of the information that suits the agenda and the narrative that the media house wants to peddle.

It was only a few days ago when Delhi Police had written a scathing response to an editorial published by the Times of India that questioned the Delhi Police over its handling of the Delhi Riots. On August 6, the Times of India had published an editorial titled, “Capital aberration: Delhi police, shamed by rioters in February”, in which it went on to castigate Delhi Police for its investigation into both anti-CAA protests and the subsequent Anti-Hindu riots that rocked the national capital in February this year.

While on the 7th of August, the Delhi Police tweeted its scathing response to the article in Times of India, the publication has interestingly not updated their story to include the response of the Delhi Police. However, on the 10th of August, they published parts of the response as a nondescript “letter to the editor”.

The published version of the Delhi Police’s response was headline, simply, “Letter on Delhi Riots”.

Headline of Delhi Police response to TOI article about Delhi Riots, as published by TOI

The rebuttal of Delhi Police to Times of India and its malicious article on Delhi Riots

In his response to Times of India, PRO Delhi Police, Dr Eish Singhal wrote that “It is difficult to comprehend how the lawful examination of a person is absurd and self-defeating”. The TOI article on the Delhi Riots had raised questions about the police interrogating Prof Apoorvanand in the Delhi riots case and accused the police of ‘spinning a deceptive narrative’.

Delhi Police response to TOI article about Delhi Riots
Response by DCP to Times of India

Responding to Times of India, that the editorial had written that the Delhi Police was ‘shamed by the rioters’. However, nothing could be father from the truth. It was the society as a while that was ashamed and that the Delhi Police is doing what it should – ensuring the culprits face the music.

“By deliberately inter-mixing several disparate discourses, the editorial has attempted to create a false narrative that if the police investigates the role of conspirators and masterminds of the violence, the actual rioters will be spared”.

Interestingly, the response that is published by Times of India in this ‘letter to the editor’ seems to be portions of the original response by the Delhi Police that they had uploaded on Twitter.

Why was Prof Apoorvanand questioned by the police

The media often raises questions and covers stories that are responded to by the party they are writing about. In this case, the Times of India wrote an article that castigated the Delhi Police for their investigation into the riots and made assertions that were clearly unfounded. Essentially, the Times of India did not take well to the fact that the police were questioning Professor Apoorvanand.

Prof Apoorvanand is a Hindi professor at the Delhi University. According to reports by the media, Apoorvanand was summoned for questioning as the Special Cell (New Delhi Range) had found links with the students’ outfit, Pinjra Tod, and with a WhatsApp group called the ‘Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG)’. According to reports, his phone was also seized as a part of the investigation.

It is essential to understand why his supposed connection with the fat-left outfit, Pinjra Tod is considered a cause of concern and a reason for his questioning.

Pinjra Tod was at the heart of Delhi Riots and in several chargesheets, it was mentioned (with phone records and other documents) how rioters were in contact with members of Pinjra Tod. One has to recall the entire chronology to understand the magnitude of the involvement of the outfit in Delhi Riots.

A day before riots had erupted in Delhi, roads were blocked in the Jafrabad area of North-east Delhi and hundreds of Muslims, especially women had suddenly congregated in the area. At that time, concerned citizens had alleged that Pinjra Tod was at the heart of the road blockage and had instigated Muslims to occupy the area.

When Delhi Police started filing chargesheets, the far more sinister role of the group came to the fore. In May 2020, the Special cell of Delhi police had arrested two women named Natasha Narwal and Devangna Kalita in the North-east Delhi riots case. Both the women are founding members of Pinjra Tod, which was established in 2015.

The Delhi Police had alleged that both the women-Natasha and Devangana were involved in hatching the conspiracy to incite riots in Jafrabad. Natasha was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her role in inciting the anti-Hindu communal riots in Northeast Delhi in February. The FIR against them mentions that they are charged under Sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 333, 323, 283, 188, 427, 307, 302, 120B, 34 of the Indian Penal Code and under the Arms Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The two arrested women were also a part of a larger conspiracy and were found to be associated with “India Against Hate” group and Umar Khalid. Later in June, Devangana was also booked under UAPA.

The damning WhatsApp messages retrieved from the phone of one of the accused, mentioned in the charge-sheet, proves it without a shadow of a doubt their involvement in planning and implementing the conspiracy to stir riots in Delhi. “Ghar me garam khaulta hua pani or tel ka intezam kare (Keep boiling water and oil handy in your house)”, “Tezab ki bottle ghar me rakhe (Keep bottles of acid in your houses)”, Cars/bikes se petrol nikalkar rakhe (extract petrol from your car/bike and keep with you)”, Balcony/terrace par eit or patthar rakhe (store bricks or stones on your balcony or terrace)”, “Lohe ke darwazo me switch se current ka istemal kare (metal doors should be electrified using switches)” are some of the instructive messages that were propagated in Whatsapp groups as a part of the preparation for violence in Delhi.

In the chargesheets that have been subsequently covered by OpIndia, the connection of the rioters to Pinjra Tod have emerged as stated by the Delhi Police.

Under such circumstances, in the due process of the investigation, it is only natural that anyone connected to Pinjra Tod and involved with them in the anti-CAA protests that led to the riots would be interrogated by the Delhi Police to probe their role in the violence.

The editorial by the Times of India only seems like an attempt to shield the Leftist intellectuals, much like others like Harsh Mander, Umar Khalid etc, from not just being interrogated or even being held to account, if the Delhi Police finds their involvement in inciting the riots.

Times of India and how unethical they were in their presentation of Delhi Police’s rebuttal

Ideally, Times of India should have attacked a copy of Delhi Police’s response to the original article where they had raised questions and to which, Delhi Police had responded. An archive of the original article that was published by the Times of India, at the time of writing this article, shows that the publication had unethically refused to include the rebuttal by the Delhi Police in their article.

It is essential to note that for any publication, it is meant to be a standard practise to update the article with the response of the party that is mentioned in the article itself.

In this case, Times of India was castigating the Delhi police. Delhi Police on the 7th gave a scathing and detailed rebuttal to the editorial by the Times of India. It was incumbent upon Times of India to add the rebuttal of the Delhi Police to its original article so the readers could essentially get both perspectives – TOI’s accusation against Delhi Police and Delhi Police’s response to those accusations.

However, Time of India chose, deliberately, to ensure that its readers do not read what the Delhi Police had to say.

Further, what is far more sinister and dishonest, is that instead of adding the full response of Delhi Police to its original article, Times of India took portions of it and published it as a ‘letter to the editor’, a nondescript section of the website which people hardly read, with a nondescript headline that gives no indication that it actually carries the rebuttal of the Delhi Police.

In fact, the Times of India even waited for the criticism to boil over and only published parts of the response on the 10th, almost 3 days after the Delhi Police had tweeted their entire rebutted to the TOI article.

Hence, Times of India not only ensures that its readers don’t get to read the Delhi Police’s response to the allegations levelled against them in the editorial, but also did not present the full rebuttal while publishing portions of it in a nondescript blog, tagging it as a ‘letter to the editor’.

This unethical behaviour of Times of India, while it may appear shocking, it far from surprising.

The media has often sliced and diced the truth to ensure that their readers get only a portion of the information that suits the agenda and the narrative that the media house wants to peddle. In this case, the narrative is that the Delhi Police is indulging in some sort of a witch hunt by interrogating several actors who are seemingly connected to the Delhi riots through various Islamist and Left organisations that instigated the violence.

In this endeavour, the media has ensured that the information that puts a damper on their narrative is kept squarely away from the readers. On the off-chance that they do decide to present the other side, the information is heavily truncated and/or twisted to ensure that either the end result is the same, or, the information does not reach its readers at all.

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