Distorting the truth and concealing inconvenient facts are not an exclusive preserve of some of the mainstream media organisations in India. Several vernacular news outlets, in different parts of the country, share an equal blame, if not more, for propagating false accounts of the incidents that threaten to upend their nurtured propaganda.
Recently, an 18-year-old Hindu boy was brutally beaten to death by a group of Muslim mob in Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar area because they opposed his relationship with a Muslim girl. The inter-faith relationship between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl was the reason which goaded Mohammad Afroz, Mohammad Raj and 3 others to gang up on Rahul Rajput and mercilessly flog him, leaving him fatally wounded.
The young man somehow managed to drag his way to his house after which he was rushed to a nearby hospital. But his injuries were so severe that his life could not be salvaged and he breathed his last battling his multiple internal injuries in the abdomen. One amongst the 5 persons who physically assaulted him was the Muslim girl’s brother. The girl’s family, particularly her brother, strongly objected to their inter-faith relationship. However, the duo continued to meet each other, triggering her brother to unleash a lethal attack on Rahul Rajput.
News18 Lokmat twists fight over interfaith love affair as “inter-caste” relationship
While these are the broad facts of the incident, Marathi vernacular organisation News18 Lokmat chose to disregard them and give a diabolical twist to the incident, describing the death as a fallout of “inter-caste relationship”. In an article published on News18 Lokmat, the Marathi news outlet characterised the death of Rahul as over “inter-caste” love affair.
As per News18 Lokmat, Rahul was beaten up by the members of other caste of the same religion and not by the fanatical adherents of other faith. Given the caste stir prevalent in the country in the wake of Hathras incident, where detractors of the Yogi Adityanath government attempted to give the shocking incident a caste flavour, this distortion by News18 Lokmat of misrepresenting a murder committed by a Muslim mob as that committed by Hindus of different sect assumes particular significance as it would feed right into the caste-divide peddled by the opposition parties.
Besides, the article does not even mention the names of the perpetrators, lest it would expose their brazen propaganda of passing off a gruesome murder over the interfaith relationship as a result of “inter-caste” affair. Despite various media organisations listing the names of the culprits involved in the case, News18 Lokmat conspicuously kept their identities under wraps.
Earlier today, India Today was also caught whitewashing the crimes committed by the Muslim mob in the horrifying assault against Rahul Rajput. India Today downplayed the murder and euphemistically characterised a love affair between the duo as “friendship”. Nor did the article reveal the identities of the perpetrators.
Vernacular media, a breeding ground for gross and vile distortions
However, the gross perversion by a vernacular media organisation is even more insidious considering that for a large section of the indigenous population, it remains their primary source of information.
Furthermore, there are scores of beady eyes scrupulously scanning the mainstream media organisations prone to peddling fake news. However, vernacular media organisations may not be subjected to such intense scrutiny by the readers, many of whom are largely unaware of the organisations’ treacherous shenanigans. This gullibility has often led many vernacular writers to brazenly indulge in plagiarism. For example, Girish Kuber of LokSatta who was caught for lifting an entire article by ne Andrew Lilico, a PhD expert and rendering it in Marathi.
It is this lack of acute awareness among the indigenous readers that provides the vernacular media organisations, including Marathi outlets, with a wide latitude to peddle fake news and deceitful narratives with impunity. Most of these vernacular outlets act as mouthpieces of the regional political parties, who in turn have aligned themselves with the Congress party against the growing political heft of the BJP.
With Maharashtra being a stronghold of the Congress party and Sharad Pawar’s NCP, several of the Marathi outlets have, time and again, been sympathetic to the Congress party and its espoused ideology. The Marathi vernacular outlets’ excessive deference to Congress and its allies have led to the growing demands of having a neutral Marathi news organisation that objectively presents the facts without distortion or dilution.
Congress’ minority appeasement propaganda and its recent attempts to undermine the BJP by highlighting the caste-divide within the Hindu society perfectly dovetails with the perversion of the facts by the News18 Lokmat. It is to this end that News18 Lokmat deviously conjures up an inter-caste love affair when the romantic liaison was between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl.