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HomeNews ReportsHalf-truths, false claims and lies: Rana Ayyub's speech and interview at the IJF in...

Half-truths, false claims and lies: Rana Ayyub’s speech and interview at the IJF in Italy are the same as her book and articles

During the hour-long session, Rana Ayyub weaved an emotional tale around her controversial career as a journalist. To bolster her unfounded claims, she resorted to half-truths, conjectures and surmises.

Donation fraud accused Rana Ayyub was invited as a Speaker at the 16th edition of the International Journalism Festival (IJF), which was held at Perugia in Italy between April 6 and April 10 this year. The theme of the discussion was, “When the State attacks: journalism under fire in the world’s biggest democracy.”

The session, which was held on Friday (April 8), was divided into two parts: an address by Rana Ayyub to the audience members, followed by a discussion on the theme with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) Director Julie Posetti.

Throughout the session, Rana Ayyub made several misleading statements and twisted the truth to suit her personal agenda.

Reiterating debunked claims of Amit Shah’s involvement in the Sohrabuddin case

At about 5 minutes into the event, Ayyub had claimed, “After a couple of initial forays in Television, I joined this publication called Tehelka where my investigation had then sent the then serving Home Minister of State Amit Shah behind bars for extrajudicial murder of Muslims.”

Amit Shah was indeed arrested on July 25, 2010, in connection to the encounter of notorious criminal Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi. He was charged with murder, extortion, kidnapping and 5 other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

However, within a month of Shah’s arrest, the then Gujarat police chief Geeta Johri had revealed that she was being pressured by the Special Director of CBI Balwinder Singh to implicate politicians including the then State Home Minister in the Sohrabuddin case.

It must be mentioned that the CBI was then under the control of the rival Congress party. Nonetheless, in December 2014, Amit Shah was acquitted of all charges. The Court had found no evidence that could remotely suggest that Shah ordered the cops to execute extrajudicial killing.

On December 21, 2018, a Special CBI Court had even acquitted all 22 accused, who were falsely implicated in the Sohrabuddin case. The court had held that the CBI (under the then Congress government) had a ‘premeditated theory and script’ to implicate political leaders rather than trying to find the truth.

It had also observed that the witnesses’ statements, which were used to allege a ‘fake’ encounter, were wrongly recorded by the central agency. While Rana Ayyub had gloated about sending Amit Shah to jail, she failed to inform the audience that he had been exonerated by the Judiciary 7 years ago.

Inability to find a publisher and the ‘truth’ of Gujarat Files

Rana Ayyub went on claim that her employer ‘Tehelka’ refused to publish her ‘coverage’ of the Gujarat riots, citing ‘political pressure.’ “I was only 26 then. It was a lot for a journalist to take who put her life in jeopardy and for her investigation to not be published,” she alleged.

Ayyub further added, “I went to every journalism organisation, back in the day, and they refused to publish. And then, I went to publishers saying can you publish the transcript of the tape of my sting operation. And they said, it is too risky a book.”

The alleged journalist also claimed to have pawned her mother’s gold to self-publish her book. Her claims do not hold much credence, given that the Congress party remained in power between 2004 to 2014 and was actively trying to frame Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

Ayyub’s book would have been the perfect ammunition for the grand old party. It is thus hard to fathom that the Congress party created such a hostile atmosphere for Rana Ayyub that she could not even find a publisher on her own.

While the alleged journalist maintains that the contents of her book were not published by Tehelka due to political pressure, former Managing Director and founder of the organisation Shoma Chaudhury had settled the controversy in 2016 itself.

In a tweet, she had clarified, “Rana Ayyub’s a courageous reporter but her story wasn’t published in Tehelka coz it didn’t meet editorial standards not ‘political pressure.”

Interestingly, Rana Ayyub published her book titled, “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up” in 2016 i.e.during the 1st tenure of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India. This brings into question the claim that if CM Modi desperately wanted to ‘hide’ the truth, then why would he allow the publication of Ayyub’s book after becoming the PM?

The said book, which the alleged journalist claims to be the ‘ultimate truth’ about the Gujarat riots, has been junked by none other than the Supreme Court of India.

The Court had observed, “The book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions, and has no evidentiary value. The opinion of a person is not in the realm of evidence.” OpIndia, in a comprehensive report, had earlier debunked each and every lie that Ayyub chose to write in her ‘fictional book’ on the 2002 riots.

Fake news about detention of journalists at Hindu rally

At about 14 minutes into the session, Rana Ayyub further claimed, “Young journalists, four days ago, at a Hindu rally were out there to cover the hate speech against Muslims. They were beaten badly, called jihadists and the cops filed a case against the journalists.”

Earlier this month, the Delhi police had debunked the fake news surrounding the supposed detention of journalists at Hindu Mahapanchayat. The Quint reporter, Meghnad Bose, had originally claimed that he and ‘four other Muslim journalists’ were taken into custody by the Delhi police. He had also alleged that they were ‘assaulted’ by a Hindu mob at the event in Delhi.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, North-West Delhi, had clarified “Some of the reporters, willingly, on their own free will, to evade the crowd which was getting agitated by their presence, sat in PCR Van stationed at the venue and opted to proceed to Police Station for security reasons.”

“No one was detained. Due police protection was provided,” she had added. According to DCP North-West Delhi, the allegations of ‘assault’ as claimed by Bose were when Hindu activists objected to the presence of the journalists, in what happened to be an overtly ‘Hindu’ function.

Moreover, the DCP stated that police protection was provided to the journalists when they willingly climbed the police van for protection. While no journalists were detained by the police during the event, the DCP said that due necessary action shall be initiated against those spreading misinformation.

Gujarat riots, PM Modi and false impression of CAA

The 2002 Gujarat riots turned out to be a ‘good fodder’ for a section of the media, which left no stone unturned to project Narendra Modi as the ‘butcher of Gujarat.’ For a decade-spanning between 2002 and 2012, several journalists rose to prominence by demonising the then CM of Gujarat.

In 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by the Supreme Court of India found no evidence of complicity of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riots. Despite this, those who made a career out of the deadly riots continue to repeat the lies in the hopes of turning them into ‘post-truth’. As such, it was expected that Rana Ayyub would evoke the 2002 riots and PM Modi’s supposed role to gain sympathy on an international stage.

About 18 minutes into the event, Ayyub claimed, “I remember when he (Modi) was positioned as a Prime Ministerial candidate of India, a lot of well-meaning journalists said that we should give him a chance. I don’t understand how you give chance to somebody who has committed and enabled mass murder. How is that even a yardstick?”

Shahrukh Pathan intimidated a cop during the Delhi riots over CAA

At about 20 minutes, Ayyub raked up the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act and alleged that the humanitarian law discriminated between Hindus and Muslims as citizens of India. She also claimed that the ‘fascist regime’ of PM Modi jailed students, and activists and framed them in terror cases.

This was despite knowing that CAA did not take away the citizenship of Indian Muslims but only fast-tracked the citizenship of persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring Islamic countries, currently living in India without any legal status. She also invoked the ‘pregnancy’ of riot accused Safoora Zargar to stir a wave of sympathy in her favour. CAA does not concern existing Indian citizens, irrespective of their religion and CAA does not stop anyone, let alone Muslims from applying for Indian citizenship in the usual process. CAA was only a one-time remedy for religiously persecuted minorities already living in India as refugees.

Ayyub however failed to mention that Zargar was arrested in April 2020 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her involvement in the Anti-Hindu Delhi riots. The Delhi Police had also claimed that she was part of the conspiracy to “destroy, destabilize and disintegrate the Government of India in order to compel to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the alleged National Register of Citizens”.

This false sense of victimhood and deliberate distortion of the CAA in public discourse fanned the violent protests, which eventually culminated in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots. The carnage lasted for over 3 days and claimed the lives of over 50 people.

A section of media, of which Rana Ayyub is a part, went hammer and tongs alleging that the Delhi riots were an ‘anti-Muslim pogrom‘ and tried to paint the Modi government as Nazis and the Muslims as Jews. This was despite the images of Islamist mobs, pelting stones and brandishing guns (such as Shahrukh Pathan), to hold the State to ransom. Roughly half the victims in the riots were Hindus and multiple reports had shown that certain Muslim groups had prepared for the riots, collected stones, petrol bombs and acid to attack neighbouring Hindus.

Half-truths about Gauri Lankesh and Siddique Kappan

Rana Ayyub saw to it that she made references to the incarceration of Siddique Kappan and the killing of Gauri Lankesh to paint a disturbing image of India on a global platform.

At about 21 minutes into the session, Ayyub alleged that her ‘friend’ Gauri Lankesh, who had translated ‘Gujarat Files’ into Kannada, was gunned down by right-wing fundamentalists. At the very next moment, the alleged journalist contradicted herself by saying that none knows who killed Gauri Lankesh to date.

She also hailed ‘journalist’ Siddique Kappan, who was arrested on October 5, 2020, while trying to enter Hathras with a fake ID. In its affidavit to the Supreme court, the Uttar Pradesh government informed that Kappan was using the garb of journalism to create a caste divide and law & order disturbance in the State.

Kappan was associated with the radical Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and a banned terrorist organisation named Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The Uttar Pradesh government had submitted a copy of a front-page story by Kappan in Thejas, dating back to November 30, 2011, wherein he claimed that Al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden was a ‘martyr’.

The government revealed that Siddique Kappan was the mastermind of several other riots, who in collusion with Thejas Editors, wanted to create religious unrest in the State of Kerala. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a charge sheet against Siddique Kappan in a money laundering case.

Repetition of baseless allegations of rape in Hathras case

Ayyub also alleged that the 19-year-old ‘lower caste’ victim in the Hathras case was raped, although both forensic and medical reports dismissed allegations of sexual assault. The Hathras incident took place on September 14, 2020, after which the victim was admitted to Safdurjung hospital in Delhi. She succumbed to her injuries on September 29.

The victim’s brother had also not mentioned rape in the complaint registered on the day of the incident. The rape allegations surfaced much later on September 22, 2020, when the police recorded the statement of the victim. The Hathras case sparked massive political debates in the country, especially after media reports twisted facts and started claiming that the victim had been brutalised.

It is notable here that the initial statements of the victim, the family’s FIR and statements had all alleged a strangulation attempt. However, later, the family added the charges of rape and eventually gang rape to their list of allegations. Since the victim was a Dalit, political parties had tried to exploit the caste violence angle.

The entire timeline of the case, media misreports, political spins and controversies, and the government’s actions can be read here. Building on this warped narrative, the left-liberal propagandists masquerading as journalists tried to keep the matter boiling, apparently to earn political dividends in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Rana Ayyub downplays charges of embezzlement of Covid-19 funds

During her conversation with Julie Posetti, Rana Ayyub alleged that the allegations of misuse of Covid-19 funds for personal gains arose after she criticised the supposed mismanagement of Covid-19 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the second wave.

She insinuated that ₹10-12 crore is a small sum of money that did not merit public scrutiny. “Now there is a case of money laundering against me. I will give you a small example. The other day when I was trying to get a court verdict to come here to speak. Just look at the lawlessness. The Judge said that this is just a small amount. Even if it was 10 or 12 crores, why does it merit coming here?”, Ayyub had remarked.

“You know what news channels were saying: Judge accuses Rana Ayyub of money laundering 10-12 crores”, she further continued. At that point, the host interjected, “Just for the context, we are talking about 20,000 Dollars essentially.”

Instead of bothering to correct Julie Posetti, Rana Ayyub chose to play along with that. While being aware that the audience members were not well-versed with the dollar to rupee exchange rates, she responded with ‘exact.’

Ayyub thereby gave the impression to the audience that ₹10-12 crores equalled a mere USD 20,000, a supposedly ‘small amount’ for which a journalist of her stature should not be questioned. In reality, 12 crores in Indian rupees amounts to nearly 1.6 million US dollars.

Ayyub had collected money in the name of Covid relief, kept it in personal accounts

On February 10 this year, OpIndia had reported that ED seized Rs 1.77 crore in Ayyub’s and her family’s accounts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A few days after the expose, Ayyub alleged in a statement that she was being framed for her “journalism” and she did not misuse the money.

However, all her claims were debunked by a Twitter user Hawk Eye who was the first to share details of alleged charity fraud last year. The ED has, in its attachment order, said, “Rana Ayyub has cheated the general Public Donors in a pre-planned manner and with the intention to cheat the general public donors.”

The order emphasised that the ‘scam’ started from the time she received the funds, which she did not use for Covid-19 relief work. She instead made a fixed deposit of ₹50 lakhs and transferred the amount to the savings account of her father, and sister through net banking. You can read the details about the allegations of misuse of Covid-19 funds by clicking on the link here. ED had also stated that the bills Ayyub had provided to show relief work do not add up.

On March 29, Rana Ayyub was stopped by Indian Immigration officials from boarding a flight to London due to the pending money laundering case against her. On April 4, she was granted permission to travel abroad by the Delhi High Court with the pre-requirement that she divulges details of her travel, contacts and her place of stay.

Presenting a distorted version of Aakar Patel case

At about 39 minutes into the session, Julie Posetti claimed that the Indian government was escalating restrictions on the ability of Indian journalists to connect to the international community. Rana Ayyub nodded in affirmation and raked up the case of Aakar Patel to bolster her claims, although nothing can be further from the truth.

On April 6 this year, Aakar Patel was stopped from boarding a flight to the USA at the Bengaluru airport. The former Amnesty India chief had tweeted that he was put on an exit control list.

He added that a CBI officer informed him that he was on a Look Out Circular because of the case against Amnesty International India regarding the FCRA violations. He was later granted temporary relief by the Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi. And the CBI has stated that they would challenge the court order.

The Special CBI court in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court stayed the order issued by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the same court, where CBI was instructed to withdraw the Look Out Circular against Patel immediately.

In February last year, the Enforcement Directorate had attached movable properties of Amnesty International India worth Rs 17.66 crore in a money laundering case. ED had found that after the cancellation of the FCRA license by the Indian government, Amnesty International India Foundation Trust and other Amnesty entities adopted ‘new methods’ to receive money from abroad. 


During the hour-long session, Rana Ayyub weaved an emotional tale around her controversial career as a journalist. To bolster her unfounded claims, she resorted to half-truths, conjectures and surmises.

While being fully aware that the predominantly Western audience at the 16th edition of the International Journalism Festival knew nothing about the internal affairs of India, the alleged journalist used the platform to peddle misinformation and false claims.

The international platform served as a perfect opportunity to reiterate the tale of ‘perpetual victimhood’, as evident from the deliberate reference to her being Muslim. Coupled with the ‘ignorance’ of the moderator and the lack of ‘journalistic’ accountability of Ayyub, the world was exposed to even more lies about India than before.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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