Speculations regarding ‘journalist’ Rajdeep Sardesai quitting India Today after he was caught malicious misinformation during the Republic Day violence, have ‘shocked’ West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee took to Twitter for extending support for the senior India Today journalist who is apparently facing the heat from his employers for malicious lies spoken at a very sensitive time when the national capital was facing an unprecedented situation on Republic Day. Sardesai had claimed that a protestor, who died while pulling a stunt on a tractor during the Republic Day violence, was shot by the police in the head. The fake news could potentially further provoked the protestors who were already indulging in violence.
I am shocked at what is happening to senior journalist @sardesairajdeep— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 29, 2021
It is also surprising how most in the media are silent on this issue. In our democratic system we must raise our voice. The media is an important pillar of our democracy
Preaching about how media is an important pillar in a democracy, Mamatas Banerjee tweeted today, “I am shocked at what is happening to senior journalist @sardesairajdeep. It is also surprising how most in the media are silent on the issue. In our democratic system we must raise our voice. The media is an important pillar of our democracy”.
Attack on journalists in West Bengal
It is interesting to see Banerjee expressing concern over the ‘important pillar of democracy’ while recently a local journalist named Somnath Chakraborty was slapped by TMC MLA from Mainaguri, Ananta Deb Adhikari after he published a news about the MLA. The incident had led to the filing of an FIR against the MLA and the holding of protests by fellow journalists of Siliguri Journalists Club. Last year in July, a web channel owner Sheikh Safiqul Islam, his wife and another person were arrested by the West Bengal police after Islam’s channel Arambagh TV questioned the Mamata Banerjee government over making donations to various clubs in the state during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rajdeep Sardesai facing the flak for his lies
At a time when Delhi was engulfed by violent protests and chaos by the protestors who had entered the national capital in an unauthorised manner, Sardesai, being fully aware of the situation, spread the fake news the police had shot dead a protestor. However, Sardesai’s lie was quickly exposed by people on social media and the Delhi police that the protestor died after his tractor overturned. In fact, his own channel mentioned the reason of the protestor’s death as the overturning of the tractor. Thereafter, Sardesai quietly deleted his tweet without apologising or clarifying.
Apparently, as a penal action against Sardesai, India Today put him off-air for two weeks over spreading fake news. He also reportedly faced a salary-cut. This was followed by speculations of him quitting the channel. However, there were also speculations that the channel had put his resignation on hold for some time and that he will be allowed to leave the channel at a later time so that his resignation is not linked with the controversies created after he spread fake news.
An FIR has been lodged against Sardesai along with several other journalists and politicians for spreading fake news during the Republic Day violence.