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Meet the team of propaganda outlet Alt News, which was paraded as ‘independent’ by the Congress party

Pratik Sinha, Mohammad Zubair, Nirjhari Sinha and where it all started, Mukul Sinha

Soon after the two documents, purported to be the internal communication or ‘toolkit’ of Congress on Central Vista and defaming PM Modi were ‘leaked’ in public domain, propaganda outlet Alt News swung into action to ‘prove’ that the toolkit was ‘fake’. Not surprising as Alt News has been at the forefront of either watering down crimes committed by radical Islamists or using ‘fact-checking’ as tool for propaganda.

Here is a brief profile of the apostles of ‘fact-checking’:

Pratik Sinha

Pratik Sinha is one of the co-founders of Alt News. Let’s start from the beginning and how he earned himself the monicker ‘Stalker Sinha’ for indulging in cyberstalking and doxxing private individuals, just because he does not like them.

In January 2019, just ahead of the 2019 general elections, Pratik Sinha revealed names of anonymous Twitter accounts who were questioning and exposing the duplicity of Congress, just because he didn’t quite agree with them.

Twitter users mentioned above had been working on some satire websites which Sinha and Congress didn’t like. So he decided to reveal the identities of those who had chosen to remain anonymous, for whatever reason. The individuals on their website had adequate disclosures that they are running a satire website. But Congress-friendly ‘nonpartisan’ fact-checker decided to dox them because why let a joke ruin your propaganda.

Sinha is not a law enforcement personnel who could access information on individuals or have the capacity to ‘release’ that information in the public domain. But he does it without any fear of consequences.

He was encouraged by other ‘Congress friendly’ journalists to reveal more private information of other individuals.

Not that anything justifies what was done to these men, but what if the above individuals doxxed were women? What if it was a child? Earlier he had displayed his stalker tendencies (the ones which could morph into even dangerous crimes if not controlled) against OpIndia CEO Rahul Roushan by targeting his wife and his newborn 2-month-old daughter.

Imagine the threat, abuses that would have come their way. We read about political violence in some states all the time. Recently, in one state, workers of a political party that actually won the elections went on a rampage against their opponents.

What if the ones doxxed by Sinha belonged to this state? Imagine throwing someone to the wolves because of opposite political ideology.

Now, let us see how he uses ‘fact-checking’ as propaganda tool.

In December, 2019, The New Yorker magazine, in its article titled “Blood and soil in Narendra Modi’s India”, downplayed the Pulwama Terror Attack and cast aspersions on the Balakot Airstrikes that followed. In its efforts, Dexter Filkins was assisted by none other than Pratik Sinha.

Balakot airstrikes

So, if some obscure account tweeted images of heatwave victims as that of terrorists hiding in Balakot, Sinha would downplay the airstrikes because one random picture posted by some random user was ‘fake’.

Filkins and Sinha ignored the fact that the Pakistani government denied international media access to the sites of the Balakot airstrikes for days after the attack. On the day of the Indian offensive itself, the Pakistan Army cordoned off the 60-acre compound, which is close to an area of a 32-34 kilometre radius. No entry or exit of private vehicles was permitted. Even as late as the 8th of March, ten days after the event, Pakistan denied access to Reuters journalists.

More recently, during the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, the ‘fact-checkers launched a staunch defence of Tahir Hussain, the AAP Councillor, who played a prominent part in the violence in North East Delhi and is an accused in the murder case of Ankit Sharma. They had given a clean chit to the AAP leader based on a shoddily edited video that showed Tahir Hussain seeking help.

Alt News claimed that they could find no evidence of the video being edited, however, social media users pointed out the glaring plot holes in the fairy-tale. Alt News absolved the AAP Councillor entirely on the basis of dubious sources and a video that could have easily been manipulated.

Last year, in an attempt to whitewash the crimes of the Tablighi Jamaat and certain sections of the Muslim population during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, Pratik Sinha told the American media organisation NPR, “The right-wing has found all these old videos and is circulating them to insinuate that Indian Muslims are knowingly spreading coronavirus and that it is equivalent to terrorist activity.”

It is important to note here that multiple FIRs were filed against members of Tablighi Jamaat for misbehaving with healthcare workers. Some members spat on healthcare workers, while others attacked them. Some were also found defecating in the quarantine centre at Narela in Delhi.

Quite clearly, the Alt News founder wanted everyone to believe that the numerous occasions during the pandemic when sections of the Muslim community have openly flouted lockdown norms, attacked the police and healthcare workers, claimed the virus was “Allah’s NRC” and engaged in despicable behaviour including sexual harassment were all lies.

Even more recently, he was found justifying Islamists like Sharjeel Usmani who celebrated the death of journalist Rohit Sardana. Sharjeel Usmani, moments after the news of the Aaj Tak anchor’s death broke out, called him a ‘sociopath’, ‘genocide enabler’ and ‘pathological liar’. Sinha had said that those who are ‘criticising’ Usmani are doing from a position of privilege. “Based on my understanding of English, Usmani was not celebrating Sardana’s death, he was characterising his body of work,” he said.

Here is a friendly reminder on how Alt News has similarly announced that the ‘leaked documents’ or the Congress toolkit are ‘fake’ – even after Congress leader Rajeev Gowda inadvertently admitted that at least one of the two documents is authentic.

Mohammad Zubair

Mohammad Zubair, one of the other co-founders of Alt News used to earlier run a ‘parody page’ of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Facebook by the name ‘SusuSwamy’. The ‘fact-checker has often lied through that particular page of his to further his agenda.

Last year, activist Ankur Singh, took down Zubair and put out a list of over 25 incidents where Zubair acted like a Congress IT cell worker than a ‘fact-checker’.

Zubair uses his clout to spread fake news against PM Modi and the BJP at large, and when caught, deletes his tweet hours after its screenshots go viral through various social media channels.

Similar claims that PM Modi’s radio show channel has turned off comments for fear of negative comments from students was also made by various ‘activists’ who regularly indulge in hashtag activism on Twitter.

Old videos on PMO India

When we scrolled through the videos of PMO’s YouTube channel, we found out that the comments have always been disabled on the channel. Even the comments during the YouTube live and Community tab are disabled. This is how Zubair likes to spread anti-Modi propaganda, almost in lines with what the Congress toolkit said.

Zubair does not hesitate to politicise a matter as serious as rape if he could derive some political mileage from it. During the heinous Kathua Rape Case, OpIndia had pointed flaws in the claims being made by the Police and raised valid questions regarding the allegations being made against Vishal Jangotra. For merely asking questions, the Altnews cofounder had insinuated that Opindia was acting as an apologist for rapists. Ultimately, however, Vishal Jangotra was acquitted by the Court of all crimes.

Zubair has gone to the extent of shielding the Islamic terrorists responsible for the brutal massacre in Sri Lanka in 2019. In 2019 on Easter Sunday, as many as eight bombs blasts, most of which were suicide attacks, rocked Sri Lanka. While the Sri Lankan government at that time did not disclose names of the suspects who may have been involved in the attacks, an unconfirmed letter warning of the imminent terror attacks was being circulated over social media.

Zubair spent a good part of his day proclaiming the letter as fake. In now-deleted tweets, Zubair shielded the Islamist terrorists because the said letter did not come from any government official. However, days later, the Sri Lankan minister shared a letter wherein it was said that a possible suicide attack was being planned against Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo by an extremist Islamist organisation called the National Thowheed Jamath.

The ‘fact-checkers’ at Alt News are so inherently biased that they are losing their objectivity when it comes to fact-checking. So deep-rooted their hate is for the BJP, PM Modi and also Hindus to a certain extent that they are almost like Congress-lite, Congress workers minus the official membership.

Nirjhari Sinha

Pratik Sinha’s mother Nirjhari Sinha is also a very vocal Modi critic. Which is fine, as criticism of elected public representatives is a sign of healthy democracy. However, what is unhealthy is sharing fake, old images to spread propaganda against the same.

In March 2020, when the Chinese coronavirus pandemic hit India, Nirjhari Sinha expressed her disapproval of PM Modi’s decision by sharing a photo of a seemingly destitute and homeless family with a caption “What is the PM’s message for them? Stay at home..don’t venture out!”

While it is an unfortunate grim reality in today’s India where poverty continues to remain one of the biggest challenges, the above image highlights her strong desire to lives of millions of Indians in danger by opposing the total lockdown of the country just because it was ordered by PM Modi. So deep-rooted is her hate that she overlooked the fact that PM Modi instituted PM Awaas Yojana, a scheme through which he plans to provide housing to everyone by 2022.

Also, the above image was not even of 2020 but of 2016. Pathological hatred for PM Modi caused Nirjhari Sinha to take leave of her senses. She questioned the measures which have been imposed by various advanced countries that are battling the scourge of coronavirus. In fact, even now, many developed nations are still under lockdown even as India slowly opened up the economy.

Nirjhari, along with her husband Mukul Sinha, ‘fought cases’ of 2002 Gujarat riots victim and very actively tried to prove that the Godhra carnage, wherein 59 karsevaks were burnt alive, was an ‘accident’ and not a planned conspiracy. The karsevaks were returning from Ayodhya.

Mukul Sinha

But who is Pratik Sinha? He is the son of a scientist turned ‘activist’ Mukul Sinha, who with his son ran an online rag ‘truthofgujarat.com’ which was the beta version of Alt News. Sinha, was a physicist, working with the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad. In 1988, he obtained a law degree and founded ‘Jan Sangharsh Manch’, a ‘civil rights organisation’ along with his wife Nirjari Sinha.

The leadership of the Jan Sangharsh Manch also founded the New Socialist Movement which was registered as a political party with the Election Commission in 2007. Mukul Sinha had also contested elections in the past and lost.

Nirjari Sinha, Pratik Sinha and Murlidhar Deomurari – all associated with Alt News are members of Jan Sangharsh Manch. Nirjari and Murlidhar are directors of Alt News.

Essentially, Sinha senior with a bunch of ‘like minded’ propagandists would float theories on the 2002 Godhra carnage and subsequent riots in Gujarat. Here is how he had justified the impromptu Muslim mob that had gathered at Godhra just before the train was set on fire.

Mob at Godhra

So apparently, a mob gathers on the platform ‘naturally’ because of ‘molestation of Muslim girl’ with a large quantity of fuel which can just set the train on fire. The train which is specifically carrying karsevaks from Ayodhya to their homes in Gujarat. They were in Ayodhya to offer karseva for the Bhavya Ram Mandir.

59 karsevaks were burnt alive and Pratik Sinha’s father had the audacity of claiming that the fire was ‘flash-over fire’. He also gave it a clean chit that the carnage was ‘not planned’.

Mukul Sinha giving clean chit to mob that set fire to train

In 2004, pro-Congress ‘activist’ Shabnam Hashmi organised a seminar in Delhi “Rebuilding Justice and Hope in Gujarat: The Agenda Ahead”. Amongst those present in the seminar were: actresses Sharmila Tagore and Nandita Das, lawyers Indira Jaisingh and Nitya Ramakrishnan, and journalists Praful Bidwai and Rajdeep Sardesai along with many known critics of the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. They all tried to figure out ways to ‘fix’ Modi legally where Sinha gave a presentation to ‘prove’ the Muslim mob setting the train to fire was ‘false’ and that the fire was an ‘accident’.

This kind of propaganda was seeded through ‘truthofgujarat’ along with his son Pratik.

Here is a sneak peek into what fake news was propagated through this outlet. In a December 2013 blog post, Mukul Sinha claimed that as Gujarat CM, Modi did not visit relief camp for a full 35 days after the riots broke out and that he visited the camp only on 4th April 2002.

Sinha claiming Modi did not visit relief camps for 35 days.

Here is a snippet from The Hindu published on 7th March, 2002.

The Hindu snippet

On 7th March, almost a month before claimed by Sinha, Modi had already visited the relief camps. The riots broke out on 28th February, a day after Godhra carnage, and this would be in about a week of the violence. Here is another article from around the same time from the Times of India.

TOI article from 7th March 2002.

This is how shamelessly Sinha would lie to further his propaganda.

Not only the Godhra carnage, but Sinha has also fought to save terrorists. He defended Javed Sheikh, one of the three men who accompanied terrorist Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an early morning encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The four terrorists were on a mission to assassinate the then CM Narendra Modi.

In March this year, the CBI court had pronounced that there was no evidence that could prove that Ishrat Jahan was not a terrorist. While narrating the order, Special CBI judge VR Raval noted that prima facie, there is nothing on the record that may suggest that Ishrat Jahan and three others, who were killed in the encounter, were not terrorists.

As one can see, apple hasn’t fallen that far from the tree.

Sinha was suffering from cancer. He passed away on 12th May 2014. Incidentally, on that day voting for the 2014 general elections ended and exit polls showed Narendra Modi coming to power with a majority and becoming the prime minister of India.

Sam Jawed, Pooja Chaudhuri and other minions at Alt News

Sam Jawed is another co-founder of Alt News. Very little information is available on her but appears to be spending some time in the Middle East.

Sam Jawed mocking ‘gau matas’ and ‘bhakts’

Like every Congress stooge, Sam Jawed, too likes to mock ‘Bhakts’, a term used derogatorily to refer to BJP and Modi supporters. Here, she is very happy to show that Dubai is a dangerous place for ‘gau matas’ in a lowkey reference to beef.

Here is how the ‘non partisan’ and ‘independent fact-checker’ refers to people who support other political parties.

Here is Sam Jawed upset at Nikhil Wagle commenting how Congress is a ‘difficult product’ to sell when Prashant Kishor was appointed as strategist ahead of 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections by Congress.

Here she is justifying how it is absolutely okay to be caught napping in the Parliament. Rahul Gandhi was found sleeping when the Congress leaders were busy cornering the BJP on the Una incident.

And then there is always the ‘gau mutra’ jibe. The Islamists terrorists in India have often used the ‘gau mutra’ jibe to attack Hindus who consider cows holy. Pulwama terrorist, who killed 40 CRPF jawans, also did it to hurt those who ‘drink cow urine’. Many Hindus believe cow urine has medicinal property and consume the same.

Pooja Chaudhuri, who was the co-author in the ‘fact-check’ defending the toolkits allegedly prepared by Congress, had earlier made a ‘hit list’ of Bollywood actors and celebrities who had tweeted in support of the Bhoomi Pujan for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

Apparently celebrating construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya is a good reason to not watch Akshay Kumar’s films.

Pooja works actively to absolve Islamists of their heinous crimes and give them the clean chit through the propaganda outlet Alt News.

Fact-checking one video with misleading claims to give clean chit to others

When the Tablighi Jamaat members were found from Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, a lot of them were accused of molesting healthcare workers, harassing them and even spitting on them and beating them up. Amid all these viral videos, Pooja Chaudhuri chose to fact-check this one video which was false. The dozens of other videos and the ones where even FIRs were lodged against them, were not even mentioned or ‘fact-checked’.

Not stone, but ‘wallet’

In yet another incident, Pooja Chaudhuri decided to don her detective glasses and just conclude that the object in Jamia ‘student’s hand is a ‘wallet’ and not stone. This despite the fact that multiple people surrounding him are carrying stones. The violence took place when many in India, mostly Muslims were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which would fast-track Indian citizenship of persecuted religious minorities of three neighbouring Islamic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Indian Muslims’ citizenship would remain unaffected by the same. Despite that, widescale protests took place which eventually culminated into communal riots.

But in this violence, this Jamia ‘student’ is obviously carrying a ‘wallet’ while rest of his buddies are carrying stones to pelt at the police.

Another such ‘writer’ at Alt News is one Jignesh. Jignesh, has a soft corner for Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘love and kindness’ has Jignesh’s heart which is why he’s upset at official Congress workers heckling a Lallantop reporter.

Jignesh defending UPA

Here is Jignesh Patel explaining how Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee’s statements on UPA’s policies were misinterpreted by media outlets. Banerjee had advised the UPA on NYAY scheme of free money ahead of 2019 elections.

Jigensh Patel on Rahul Gandhi ‘stupid’ comment

And how dare a parody/fake account call Rahul Gandhi stupid. Jignesh would totally fact-check him.

These are the prominent people associated with Team Alt News.

Despite such obvious bias and bile, not just Congress but many among celebs and journalists try to paint them as some neutral, professional organisation. This is how the Congress ecosystem works. How it is nurtured, nourished and activated whenever crisis arises to absolve The Family of all their crimes.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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