India Today has been at the forefront of inciting emotions from Hathras after the unfortunate murder of a 19-year-old girl. Only a day ago, OpIndia had exposed leaked audio where their journalist, Tanushree Pandey, was heard trying to tutor the victim’s brother and pestering him to film a confessional tape of the father saying that the UP government was pressurising the family.
A day after the OpIndia expose, India Today, a channel that was convinced that it should be the judge, jury and the executioner in the Hathras case, seems to have done a u-turn.
Now, India Today has released a report which says that one of the accused in the Hathras case, Ramu, was not even present in the village during the incident.
#Hathras कांड में बड़ा खुलासा, आरोपी रामू घटना के समय गांव में नहीं था! जिस डेयरी प्लांट में वो नौकरी करता था उसके मालिक ने बताया कि घटना के वक्त रामू प्लांट पर काम कर रहा था, उसे 25 से भी ज़्यादा लोगों ने प्लांट पर देखा था।#ReporterDiary @abhishekanandjihttps://t.co/mf6keLW7vJ pic.twitter.com/smZdLyJ6rH— AajTak (@aajtak) October 3, 2020
In the AajTak report, which is the Hindi channel of India Today, the journalist is seen speaking to the employer of the accused who says that at least 20-25 people work in the factory and all of them can attest that Ramu was working at the factory when the unfortunate Hathras incident took place.
The Dairy Plot owner says that Ramu was working at the factory and was not even present in the village where the incident took place. On being asked, the factory owner says that Ramu is slightly hard of hearing and is overall an innocent person.
According to Zee News, that has also reported this, Madhusudan, who is a shift manager at the factory, also showed Ramu’s photo of that day in the factory’s internal WhatsApp group. Ramkumar (Ramu) is the uncle of the main accused Sandeep.
Zee News has reported that according to the shift manager, Ramu’s presence is marked in the attendance calendar for both 14th and 15th of September, which proves that he could not have been present during the crime took place in Hathras.
Ramu’s father said that his son was not involved in any rape or gang-rape. Being of the same family, he has been implicated in the case. Describing the Hathras victim as his daughter, Rakesh told Zee News that if his son is guilty of gang-rape, he should be shot dead rather than running any trial.
He further said he is nor trying to save Ramu. If the gang-rape charges are proved against his son, he should also be killed.
Further, Rakesh Kumar, Ramu’s father, also says that Ramu was earlier detained and released, however, only days later when the rape charges were added, he was re-arrested. Kumar has reportedly expressed full faith in the SIT and said that he is confident that the truth of the matter will come out.
The India Today u-turn in reporting comes at an interesting stage. Not even 24 hours earlier, their reporter had been exposed via leaked audio for tutoring the family of the victim. This development in India Today reportage of the case is interesting since, for the past few days, India Today has rather been convinced that the narrative they have put out of the incident and the one being encashed on by the Congress is completely true. Any facts to the contrary have been met with a sneer. However, this development in the case raises several questions about the reportage of India Today and the media in general.
It is to be kept in mind that the medical reports do not indicate rape, according to the police. Now, with one of the accused not being present in the village itself, according to India Today, the acceptable narrative of the case would require a re-examination to uncover what really happened in Hathras.
The leaked audio that put India Today and the Congress party in the dock
The leaked conversations of the Hathras Case revealed the manner in which politicians and the media have been trying to politicise the issue in order to settle scores with the BJP government in the state. In one of the audios, Tanushree Pandey, an India Today journalist, was attempting to incite the brother of the deceased with lies and emotional blackmail.
In the audio clip, Tanushree Pandey could be heard trying hard to convince Sandeep to send her a video statement of his father alleging that he was under immense pressure from the administration.
Throughout the conversation, Tanushree Pandey appears insistent on coaxing out a very specific statement from Sandeep while the latter remains non-committal on his statement and appears hesitant to toe the line that the journalist wants him to toe. He confirms the journalist’s allegations of pressure and on other occasions, he says that his father was not very clear on whether he was pressurised or not.
Tanushree Pandey tells Sandeep that she has learnt from somewhere, she does not specify where that an attempt is being made to blame the death of the sister on her family. It does appear to be an incendiary piece of information that has not been reported anywhere in the media. This bit of false information appears entirely fake and seems to have been invented solely to take advantage of the family’s misery to peddle a particular political agenda.
In another conversation, an unidentified individual is heard telling Sandeep, the brother of the victim, to not leave his house because senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi would be visiting his home. In the conversation, the person could be heard telling Sandeep, “If anyone wishes to take you anywhere, you must not go, now Priyanka Gandhi will come to your house. Someone says you should go to Hathras, somewhere here, somewhere there, you must not go.”
The man continues, “Say that the police and the media are not allowing your relatives to come, that they have been kept for your protection or for Thakur’s. Tell them everything that has happened to you.” During the conversation, Sandeep tells the man that the SIT was on a visit and one ‘Sanjay bhaiya’, his father and two other people are sitting inside along with some Congress workers. The man further tells Sandeep, “Alright, don’t go anywhere. Now Priyanka Gandhi will come and tell her that pressure has been created on you and you want to create a video of that.”
In another conversation that appears to be between villagers and Sandeep, the brother is advised that he should not accept Rs. 25 lakhs and reach a conclusion. He is told that he should even accept Rs. 50 lakh to reach a conclusion. The lady in that conversation says that some politician is saying that ‘faisla’ should not be reached. During this conversation, the names of one ‘Rahul’ and Manish Sisodia and Barkha Dutt also comes up.