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In The Name Of Fake News...

In The Name Of Fake News...

The expression “Fake news” was not coined by Trump as such but he has to be given credit for popularizing it. Whenever some inconvenient question was raised by media representative in the press meet, for example why there was a ruckus between him and New York governor, immediately he yells “Fake news”.

He considers that as an answer, response or rebuttal or anything you may call it. And the phrase appears more often on his twitter. American media gave statistics how many times he uttered the word “Fake news”. But Trump did not deter. He announced “Fake news Award” too. In a way the Fake news became synonymous with Trump.

Now we have many Trumps in making on Indian soil. While Trump merely barks, these can bite.

A news portal in Gujarat called “Face of Nation” reported that Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani may be replaced by BJP  high command because of his alleged mishandling of Covid 19 in the state. Gujarat, with 750 deaths, stands next only to Maharashtra and there is no district in Gujarat unaffected by the pandemic. The report even named a possible successor.

CM of Gujarat did not stop at calling the report fake, his administration charged Dhaval Patel, editor and owner of the news portal with, you guessed right, sedition! By now, you know that anyone who speaks against the interests of BJP is a ‘Deshdrohi’. Apart from Section 124, he was charged under section 54 of the Disaster Management Act too for allegedly spreading panic raising false alarm!

In fact, the news did not talk of the disease caused by the virus. It was speculating political ramifications of mismanagement of the epidemic. In most of the cases, this kind of news is leaked by the disgruntled sections of the ruling party.  While they remain ‘Deshbhakts’, editors are branded ‘deshdrohis’.

In Coimbatore, a news portal reported corruption in food distribution organized by local authorities for poor. The police promptly arrested the founder of the portal.

A reporter in Andamans said in his post on social media - “It is appreciable to quarantine those who come in contact physically with Covid +ve patient. But here they are quarantining even those who contacted by phone!” And the reporter was promptly arrested!

Most of us must have viewed a video clipping of a ‘Let us break India’ speech allegedly by Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad. Mahender Singh Manral, Special correspondent, The Indian Express, New Delhi filed a story that police investigation found that it was probably doctored. Delhi police did not confirm or deny the report.

Instead, they sent a notice to the reporter to join the probe on this matter. He was not charged under any law but was threatened that failure to join the probe could result in legal action under Section 174 which means prison term and fine. It is obvious that asking him to join the probe means that police wants to know the journalist’s source of information.

The Editors Guild of India, in a statement, condemned this growing pattern of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists. Jagan is keen to stop mudslinging by media and individuals with vested interests. Ranganayakamma and Malladi Raghunath are latest instances. But let him to get the offenders charged with proper sections of law lest he too become ‘junior Trump’.

Written By M

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