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Don’t spread misinformation: Sambhal Police tells ABC News journalist for using old video to accuse BJP leader of bribing officials before voting

The election in Sambhal took place on 7th May, and the highest temperature there on that day was 42° C. In the video, while one person is wearing a sweater, the other person is in a coat, clearly indicating that the video is old

Meghna Bali, South Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent of Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) News on 24th May accused a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party of bribing the police and polling authorities in the Sambhal constituency of Uttar Pradesh which went to the polls on 7th May in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. She claimed that the video was taken a few days before 7th May. However the fact is that the video is old and not related to the ongoing general election, the proof of which is present in the video itself.

The ‘journalist’ asserted, “The ABC has obtained and verified a video showing a BJP worker named Bhuvnesh Kumar Varshney plotting to bribe police and polling officials in UP’s Sambhal constituency before the May 7 poll. Watch the full video below with captions.”

She then alleged that the media house also verified that Bhuvnesh Kumar Varshney had been apprehended and booked under section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and added, “Many described the action as not harsh enough.”

The Sambhal police countered the accusation and informed that it was old footage as the person was wearing winter clothing but the election was conducted during the height of the summer season. The election in Sambhal took place on 7th May, and the highest temperature on that day was 42° C. In the video, while one person is wearing a sweater, the other person is in a coat, clearly indicating it is not from the current season when most of the country is facing heatwave.

The police said, “This appears to be an old video timed way before Model Code of Conduct was enforced, as the person in the video can be clearly seen wearing winter clothes whereas the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in district Sambhal took place during peak summer on 7th of May. From the video the location is unclear. Still taking cognisance of the video the person was identified and arrested on 01.05.2024 and due legal action was taken against him by police.” It further urged her not to disseminate false information based on unconfirmed details.

However, Meghna Bali argued the validity of this footage had been independently confirmed by ABC News and claimed, “We spoke to victims and eyewitnesses who describe what happened across villages in Sambhal on May 7. The details are nearly identical in both instances. We have confirmed Mr Varshney was booked under section 151 of the CrPC several days before the poll.”

ABC News and its anti-India bias

Avani Dias, the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News accused the Modi government of not extending her visa due to which she had to leave the country immediately. She further voiced that the Indian government intended not to permit her accreditation to report on the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The ‘journalist’ stated that she returned to Australia after her visa was renewed for a two-month term at the last moment.

However, her lies were busted by India Today’s Geeta Mohan who revealed that the Australian journalist’s charges were false, deceptive and mischievous. She disclosed that the latter flouted visa regulations while pursuing her professional endeavours. She pointed out that despite this, she had received word that her visa would be extended so she could cover the general election.

Her prior visa was granted an extension through the end of June, with a validity date of 20th April. Her application for a visa extension was approved on 18th April 18, the day she paid the visa fee. However, Geeta Mohan unveiled that Avni Dias chose to depart India on 20th April when her visa was still valid and her request for an extension was accepted. It also turned out that her claim that she had not been given permission to cover elections was untrue.

Moreover, “The Australia Today” reported that she came back to Australia because of a new employment opportunity which she received in June of last year and her wedding which took place last December. Her return had nothing to do with India, the Lok Sabha poll or the Modi government.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) allegedly called her to inform her that her visa extension was denied, according to a controversial story that her employer ABC News published. According to the publication, the “journalist” was notified by MEA about her propaganda-filled YouTube video, which implied that India had a hand in the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a resident of Canada and it had crossed a line. The purpose of the 29-minute film, “Sikhs, Spies and Murder: Investigating India’s alleged hit on foreign soil” was to defame India internationally and paint it as a party to extraterritorial assassinations that take place in other nations.

Notably, the Australian Hindu Media severely criticized ABC News’s South Asia Bureau Chief in March of this year for trying to deny the involvement of radical Khalistanis and implying that Hindus were responsible for the destruction of Brisbane’s Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple. She also made an effort to portray the Ram Mandir Pran Prathistha celebration as a “Hindu supremacist” event earlier in January. Furthermore, Avani Dias opportunistically avoided discussing the history of Ram Mandir and how Islamic conqueror Babur destroyed it in 1526. The contentious ‘journalist’ even asserted that the rebuilding of the Ram Mandir is a component of the Hindu nationalist movement, which seeks to undermine the “secular ethos” of this country.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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