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Jawhar Sircar’s tryst with fake news, life and times of the TMC MP

After retirement, Sircar joined Trinamool Congress and is currently serving as a Rajya Sabha member on an AITC ticket

There was a time when Jawhar Sircar was best known for his tenure as the Chief Executive Officer in Prasar Bharati from 2012 to 2016. Born in March 1952, the 70-year-old retired Indian Administrative Service officer started his career in 1975. From 2008 to 2012, he was Secretary to the Government of India. During his tenure in different departments, he held some of the most important portfolios.

After retirement, Sircar joined Trinamool Congress and is currently serving as a Rajya Sabha member on an AITC ticket. If someone introduces Sircar with the achievements listed here, he will look like a decent fellow with an impressive career. However, his life is full of controversies that need a deeper examination.

Sircar’s curious relationship with fake news

Being a senior leader and an experienced Administrative Service officer, Sircar should be aware of how to differentiate between real news and fake news. On top of all, he was CEO of Prasar Bharati, the state-owned broadcaster that runs Air India, and Doordarshan, two of the most authentic sources of news reports in India. However, as we will see below, Sircar is a regular peddler of fake news online.

The lens cover saga

Sircar has had a good run with fake news and is often left deleting his tweets when netizens expose his fake social media posts. The most recent one is the tweet that he has deleted where Sircar shared a photograph of PM Modi, claiming he was trying to click a photograph with the lens cover on. Soon after he published the tweet, Netizens pointed out how he was wrong, and the photograph he posted was morphed.

On September 17, two photographs of PM Modi went viral, where those who published the tweets claimed PM Modi was shooting with a lens cover on. While one photograph was with a lens filter, and people got it confused with a lens cap, in another photograph, someone went ahead and added a lens cap. However, the person who did it was not aware that the Canon lens cap would not fit a Nikon lens. Sircar had shared the latter one and deleted the tweet once he got exposed by netizens.

Fake image of PM Modi with Ambanis

In June 2021, Sircar published a heavily-edited photograph of PM Modi to insinuate that he goes out of his way to be polite to ‘his friends’. Sircar tweeted, “Wish fellow parliamentarians and others in politics also received such courtesy and bonhomie — from their permanently-scowling PM. In a mature democracy, we would know the two-way relationship, favors, and transactions. Some day, history will tell us,” with an image of PM Modi bowing down politely to Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Group chief Mukesh Ambani. The image was, however, fake and photoshopped.

The image is actually of PM Modi meeting Deepika Mondal, who runs an NGO, “Divya Jyoti Cultural Organisation and Welfare Society.” In fact, the above image shared by Sircar has been in circulation since 2015 and has been made viral with claims that the lady in the image is Preeti Adani, wife of Gautam Adani. When netizens called out his fake tweet, he started hiding the replies that exposed him. Later, he deleted the tweet.

Sircar shared a doctored video to attack PM Modi and CM Yogi

In December 2021, Sircar shared a doctored video to suggest that PM Modi and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath were greeted with anti-Modi and anti-Yogi slogans during the inauguration ceremony of the Kashi Viswanath Corridor. He was called out by the netizens who published the original video of residents cheering for PM Modi and CM Yogi.

In the doctored video published by TMC leaders, including Sircar, the original audio was removed, and audio from some other event was added to it. The audio track with the crowd cheering PM Modi and Yogi Aditynath was edited and replaced by “Modi hai hai” and “Yogi chor hain” slogans, as can be seen in the clip shared by the TMC leaders.

Sircar shared the fake video coupled with a Tweet that read, “Wow! Protests during Modi’s midnight Kashi Parikrama. Some guts. The Godi Media will not show this.” After OpIndia reported that the TMC leaders posted a doctored video, Twitter added the ‘manipulated media’ tag to the tweet posted by Jawhar Sircar.

Sircar’s rant against PM Modi’s secure vehicle

Again in December 2021, Jawhar Sircar went on a rant over the price of the modified Mercedes-Maybach 650 used by PM Modi. He tried to assert that a state-of-the-art car is not used for fortifying the security of the head of the state but for satisfying the vanity of PM Modi. Contrary to what he said, the armoured vehicle is for the post of India’s Prime Minister and not for the person who is currently occupying the post. The Prime Minister is not going to inherit the car when he retires from public office or when he is replaced by another one.

A heavily armoured vehicle is an absolutely essential security prerequisite for the head of a nuclear-armed state, especially for a country like India, which has two perpetually hostile nuclear neighbours. The security detail of the leader must include a high-security car that can protect him or her against the eventuality of a conventional, nuclear, biological, and chemical attack launched against the leader.

DD under Sircar had edited the interview of PM Modi

On April 27, 2014, Doordarshan aired a 30-minute-long interview with the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the runup to the Lok Sabha elections. Upon its release, a controversy broke out about how chunks of the 54-minute-long interview were edited out by broadcaster Prasar Bharti at the behest of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

At that point in time, Jawhar Sircar was the CEO of Prasar Bharati. Questions were raised about his integrity and the lack of autonomy of India’s largest public broadcasting agency. The interview, featuring former Gujarat CM and BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi was shot on April 26, 2014, and it aired a day later on April 27. It was followed up with a re-telecast of the interview on April 28. When the video was aired, the BJP raised objection as to how a 54-minute-long interview was cut short to just 30 minutes.

Following a public backlash, the then Prasar Bharati CEO had acknowledged that chunks of the interview were edited out for failing to get a ‘balancing interview’ with rival political leaders despite best attempts by DD News. Jawhar Sircar had blamed the then I & B Minister Manish Tewari for failing to grant ‘operational autonomy’ to the public broadcaster. He had pointed out how not giving in to the government’s demands resulted in transfers and punitive actions.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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