On the 5th of January, a serious and deliberate security breach in Punjab led to the convoy of PM Modi being blocked for over 20 minutes by protestors at a flyover about 30 km away from Hussainiwala. The BKU, which took responsibility for the protests went on the record to confirm that the PM’s route information was leaked, according to Times Now. While the nation was shocked and demanding accountability from the Congress government in Punjab, The Quint wrote an elaborate article downplaying the security lapse and lying in the process.
#Breaking #Exclusive | #PMSecurityBreach: BKU admits role in PM's security breach; confirms that PM's route info was leaked.— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) January 5, 2022
TIMES NOW is the only channel with the leak angle. TIMES NOW – Always keeps you ahead.
Super #Exclusive by Bhavatosh Singh@navikakumar | @thenewshour pic.twitter.com/feZ5NPDPdX
The Quint published a report, written by its “journalist” Aditya Menon, headlined, “PM Modi’s Punjab Visit Cancelled: 2 Angles to the Fiasco – Security & Politics”.
In the article, Menon lied blatantly to downplay the seemingly deliberate security lapse that led to PM Modi being stuck for 20 minutes not too far away from the Pakistan border.
Aditya Menon, in The Quint article, cited an incident from 2017 to claim that at the time, PM Modi’s convoy was stuck in traffic for 2 hours, however, claims that his life was threatened had not been made. The article was shared on Twitter with this very claim by the author Aditya Menon and the official handle of The Quint.
Other assorted “liberals” like Rohini Singh also shared the claim to downplay the serious security lapse in the security of the Prime Minister and attempted to shield the Congress government in Punjab.
Rohini Singh, a journalist with The Wire, quoted the tweet by Aditya Menon and said that “Noida channels” were vilifying ordinary citizens by claiming that there was a threat to PM Modi’s life. She said the fact that PM Modi’s convoy was “stuck in Noida for over 2 hours” was a “very important point” and that the rest of the media was trying to showcase “Punjabis as anti-national”.
In the report, The Quint had said that while in 2017, PM Modi was stuck for 2 hours in traffic, nobody had claimed that his life was under threat, thereby insinuating that the media and other citizens raising questions against the Congress government were doing so because they harboured some sort of hatred for Punjabis.
Essentially, by picking up this incident and lying about it, Aditya Menon wanted to say that the outrage over PM Modi’s security detail breach was mainly owing to the fact that it happened in Punjab and when something far more serious had happened in Uttar Pradesh, there was no outrage over the security breach.
However, the truth is far from it.
In 2017, PM Modi’s convoy was stuck in traffic only for 2 minutes, not 2 hours as claimed by The Quint.
At that time, Indian Express had reported how two cops had been suspended after a security breach that led to PM Modi being stuck in traffic for 2 minutes.
The two policemen who were suspended had taken a wrong turn as a result of which PM Modi’s cavalcade had been stuck in traffic for merely two minutes.
There is a fundamental difference between what happened in Noida in 2017 and what happened in Punjab.
In 2017, the security breach was a result of a mistake by the policemen and not because the state government had deliberately failed to clear the route that the PM was taking to travel. In Punjab, however, the situation was extremely different.
Yesterday, it was evident that Punjab police was actively involved in blocking the convoy of PM Modi in Ferozepur as videos had gone viral, in which Punjab police were seen enjoying tea with protestors while the convoy was stuck not so far from them.
Another shocking revelation was made by a local witness who is also one of the so-called farmer protesters which clearly indicates that the agitators blocking the road already knew the route taken by the PM to reach the destination. This is a clear confirmation of the leaking of the sensitive information which was supposed to be limited to none other than the Punjab police and local administration. Moreover, while the Punjab police said that they tried but could not remove the blockade, the protester informed that police didn’t make any attempt in that regard, the protestors were not asked by the cops to clear the route.
On being asked if anyone tried either by talks or force to make the protesters leave the site clear the roads, the protester said, “Had the police even tried to do so, they were well aware what would happen to them. Because we farmers were already outnumbering the police. The number of police force was simply not sufficient to make the farmers move. Earlier, Modi’s fans were also trying to pass from here; but they too were not allowed to. Because we were knowing that if they pass ahead, they will certainly do something. We already knew that Narendra Modi will be passing from here only. We were knowing that he has some rally or program planned ahead in Ferozepur and farmers did not want him to reach there.”
The allegations that the Punjab government deliberate leaked info also stems from the fact that the Punjab CM had held a press conference and made several contradictory statements that showed how he was trying to skirt the issue. Further, the BKU, farmers organisation, had admitted to Times Now that details of the route the PM was taking was leaked to the protestors.
In fact, right before the security breach of the Prime Minister, the protesting farmers were seen attacking buses and BJP workers.
The Quint deliberately ignores the fundamental difference between the 2017 incident and the security breach from yesterday. Further, they blatantly lied about the duration of the security breach in 2017 to prove that 20 minutes was not too long for the cavalcade of the PM to be stuck only a few kilometres away from the Pakistan border because it was stuck for 2 hours in 2017.
The lies peddled by The Quint was pointed out by several Twitter users as soon as it was published.
Activist Anshul Saxena had taken to Twitter to point out how The Quint had lied in their report.
To defend PM's security breach in Punjab, The Quint spread fake news that in 2017, PM's convoy was stuck in traffic for over 2 hours in UP's Noida.— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) January 5, 2022
Fact is PM's convoy was stuck in traffic for 2 minutes.
Sharing NDTV's tweet so that Quint's staff & propagandists can believe. pic.twitter.com/ztmvkpjH1r
Activist Ankur Singh had also tweeted about the fake news.
Another Fake News by 2BHK Journalists @Rohini_sgh @AdityaMenon22.— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) January 5, 2022
To defend Congress, they have made 2 minutes into 2 hours.
2 cops were suspended because the made wrong turn. pic.twitter.com/sLE8EoTDFq
After this, The Quint quietly deleted the tweet where they had shared the report on Twitter.
The report by The Quint has been updated as well. In the report, they have removed the “2 hours” lie, however, they have retained the comparison they made to the 2017 incident thereby, continuing to peddle their agenda with the false equivalence.
In comparing the current situation with the 2017 incident, The Quint is only proving that they are trying to shield the Congress government in Punjab but downplaying the security breach itself. Also, The Quint is attempting to insinuate that the government and others questioning this security breach are doing so because they are predisposed against Punjab and the people of Punjab.
Aditya Menon of The Quint had employed exactly the same tactic while defending Sharjeel Imam’s speech, calling to cut off Assam from the rest of India
In 2020, The Quint’s journalist Aditya Menon, infamously known for passing off an image from Syria as from Kashmir, attempted to rationalise Shaheen Bagh mastermind Sharjeel Imam’s secessionist and violent remarks by equating them with the ISI propaganda of blockades imposed in Kashmir by Hindu organisations in 2008.
Watering down Imam’s dangerously secessionist speech, Menon argued that the former JNU student had simply asked for a “chakka jam or a blockade of the highways and railways leading to Assam”. However, in his pursuit to defend Imam, Menon cunningly drew a parallel with the Amarnath agitation in 2008 when Hindu organisations had allegedly blocked Jammu-Srinagar highway. Menon stated that if that wasn’t considered sedition, then Imam’s call to block the roads and railways leading to Assam should not be considered separatist either.
There are two facets of the sophistry employed by Menon.
The first one is concerning the distortion of Imam’s incendiary speech. Menon cleverly ignored the reference to “Chicken Neck” that was raised by Imam in his speech. Imam categorically stated that Chicken Neck, a narrow stretch of land of about 22 kilometres located in the Indian state of West Bengal, that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of India, with the countries of Nepal and Bangladesh lying on either side of the corridor, ‘belongs to the Muslims’ and exhorted them to take hold of the area to cut-off Assam and the North-East from the rest of India.
Basically, the article exonerates Imam of all allegations and mentions that if at all he is guilty of anything, it is just ‘intellectual arrogance’. It adds that the only punishment for that is ‘debate and more debate’.
In this incident, Menon similarly exonerated the protestors of all the violence they had perpetuated, in the past and in the present. He forgets about the 26th January violence, the numerous murders and rapes during the farmers protest and also, the attack on buses and BJP workers on the day that PM Modi’s security detail was breached.
The second aspect is about the false equivalence Menon tries to invoke in order to legitimise Sharjeel’s subversive assertions. The Amarnath blockade, which Menon refers to, in order to justify Sharjeel’s inflammatory remarks, erupted on May 26, 2008, after the central government ordered the transfer of approximately 99 acres of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board(SASB) in the main Kashmir valley to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims.
The decision was fiercely opposed by Muslims dwellers in the Valley, with organisations such as JKLF spearheading the protests and which saw participation from separatist leaders such as leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). Pressurised by Muslim protest, the government revoked the land transfer order.
This did not sit well with the Hindus who felt offended by the government’s back-pedalling. At least 35 Hindu organisations staged a protest along the Jammu Srinagar highway demanding restoration of land to Hindus. Hindu outfits such as Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad protested outside the Kashmir House in Delhi against the revocation order issued by the government.
However, Menon did not feel the need to apprise his readers about the background that led to the protests staged by Hindus. In fact, Menon went ahead to falsely claim that Hindus blocked the Jammu-Srinagar highway, cutting off Kashmir from the rest of India. But, to Menon’s chagrin, this theory of “blockade of Kashmir” is patently false as the Government of India, the Army, the District Administration, SASB unequivocally repudiated the allegations of the blockade and called it a myth.
In fact, no Hindu groups had rejected India’s constitution or praised Jinnah either.
Denying any blockade, the BJP too denounced the theory of blockade as “a lie perpetuated by the ISI”, of which there was no compelling evidence, and asserted that the people of the Valley were being misled with false propaganda, abetting the nefarious designs of separatists.
In the current incident too, Aditya Menon employs the same sophistry where he ignores the difference in context between the 2017 incident and the current security breach in Punjab and lies about the details to exonerate the protestors and the Congress government.