Attacks on Doctors and Media: A Few Case Studies was a Report published on April 27. This one is a sequel to that, and can be deemed as Part-2 of a two part report.The focus now is on Islamophobia, promoted by media, and abetted by State agencies.

Tablighi Jamaat members spat on doctors, defecated in hospital wards, misbehaved with nurses, threw bottles of urine, demanded chicken biriyani and so forth. These have been false, cooked-up and ridiculous allegations – Justice Markandey katju.

In Part-1, we have seen many grave instances of attacks on Doctors etc, both in North and South India, but were underplayed or ignored by the big media.

In Part-2 here, we show how fake news reports appeared aplenty about Muslims misbehaving with, and targeting, medical personnel, across the country, after the Nizamuddin Markaz event; they were hyped in the media, and re-cycled in social media and by WhatsApp groups. This saga of falsehood is the new normal now.

A Nazi Method Is Being Used To Vilify Tablighi Jamaat, Others   

That is the title of an opinion piece published in theweek.in, April 27, 2020, by Justice Markandey katju, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2011.

The members of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz of Delhi have been castigated by many TV channels as ‘super spreaders’ of coronavirus, ‘corona bombs’, ‘corona jihadis’ and so forth.

The Tablighi Jamaat leader, Maulana Saad, has been painted as the devil, though even a little cool and rational deliberation can tell us that at most the group could be called negligent, but certainly not deliberate spreaders of the disease.

It has been publicised in many TV channels that Tablighi Jamaat members spat on doctors, defecated in hospital wards, misbehaved with nurses, threw bottles of urine, demanded chicken biriyani and so forth. These have been false, cooked-up and ridiculous allegations, but a large section of our gullible people have swallowed these claims (since a big lie is swallowed easier than a small one).

That Tablighi Jamaat members, who recovered from COVID-19, have donated their own blood plasma for needy persons is given little prominence by our media.

Citing many more such examples, Katju concluded: Where this trend will end, no one can say, but it certainly does not augur well for Indian democracy.

At least 69 fake videos against Muslims and at least 28 attacks listed

Media Scanner, a fact-checking platform, compiled a list of at least 69 fake videos against Muslims and listed at least 28 attacks prompted by online abuse. Joyojeet Pal, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, and three others found “a rise in the number of debunked misinformation, especially following the third week of March.”

Pal’s study confirmed the progression of events that followed the government’s religious profiling. “A key 30-day period”, from March 14-April 12, “was dominated by discussions of a possible lockdown and about infections”; the discourse gradually “changed to Muslims and religion more significantly”, said the study. cited by scroll.in, on Apr 21, 2020.

For more : https://scroll.in/article/959806/covid-19-how-fake-news-and-modi-government-messaging-fuelled-indias-latest-spiral-of-islamophobia

Blatantly anti-Muslim propaganda by TV channels, not just social media, is the new normal now.

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The Centre goes against its own guidelines of early phase, and was censured abroad

Formally the Centre had urged, in an advisory sent on March 20, social media platforms to start awareness campaigns and take immediate action to disable and remove misinformation from the platforms; to not upload or circulate false news, which is likely to create panic and disturb social tranquility; and to promote dissemination of authentic information related to the virus. (Economic Times, March 20, 2020)

But as it turned out, that was only for record. In effect, it pertained only to the official pandemic data the Govt. wanted the public to know, and nothing more. It did not bother about fake news about the social pandemic that is likely to create panic and disturb social tranquility. In fact, the Govt. itself later on linked the data with religion, going against its own guidelines of early phase.

Union Ministry of Health in early March held that it does not believe in any profiling based on religion…but changed its practice by late March: The Jamaat has been finding a mention since April 1 in almost all press briefings, by Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal… On April 2, Agarwal gave a state-wise break-up of cases that allegedly spread by people who had taken part in the markaz event. Notably, no such question was asked in this regard by journalists. In a statement on April 3, suspected or positive cases of COVID-19 infection were reported from 17 states because of the congregation. On April 4, Agarwal again held the Tablighi Jamaat’s event responsible for 30% of the cases reported across the country.

On April 5, Agarwal said, “The doubling rate (of Coronavirus infected patients) in India is 4.1 days. Had the congregation at Nizamuddin not happened and additional cases not come, this would have been about 7.14 days.”

The Delhi government, too, is regularly giving a separate break-up of the new cases allegedly because of the congregation. ..

CM Arvind Kejriwal told the media on April 6 via a digital conference : “In the last few days, it must have seemed like there has been a sudden rise in the COVID-19 positive cases in Delhi. One reason for that rise is the rise in markaz cases, which is evident since 330 out of 523 cases are from the markaz. The second reason is that now we have started getting testing kits and testing capacity has increased across Delhi in the last few days.”

Data of percentages obviously depend on the total samples taken. Lakhs of those who returned from abroad were not tested.

In the weeks after Covid cases were reported in India, and also in US and the West, over 20 lakh Indians, mostly students abroad and NRIs came to India, as per official flights data. Most of them early on were not quarantined. They were not tested, except in cases where they reported and unless there were symptoms. Until March 19, when Janata Curfew was announced, lakhs of them had participated in private, social and religious events. For instance, about 50 to 60 thousands each had visited, on March 19 alone, Tirupati and Shirdi as per the official data of those shrines.

Notwithstanding all this, this sort of profiling and data went on for almost three weeks, after which the PM said :

“COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood. We are in this together: PM @narendramodi,” the tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office reads.

That was Modi on  April 19,  Sunday. “Modi’s statement comes after a Muslim congregation that sparked a wave of Covid-19 cases in India triggered outrage that later took an Islamophobic turn.” , reported  news18.com.

It is to be noted that international censure had played its own role: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had condemned the unrelenting, vicious Islamophobic campaign in India maligning Muslims for the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) as well as their negative profiling in media subjecting them to discrimination and violence with impunity.

In a tweet on April 19 Sunday, the OIC-IPHRC urged the Indian government to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia in India and protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under international human rights law.  After all Gulf countries employ over 10 millions of Indians, who contribute billions to Indian economy.

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Atleast 69 fake videos,viewed and shared by millions, were listed by a a fact-checking platform.

Currency slipped from a handicapped Muslim’s hand : tweet on it had 2.5 lakh views

A Nazi Method Is Being Used, commented Justice Markandey katju. How true, and how shameless, can be seen in the details of this incident about a handicapped man.

“A Muslim man intentionally dropped currency notes to spread coronavirus” : This tweet drew close to 2.5 lakh views !  

A report of 27th April 2020, from Gujarat, shows how flimsy but depraved are reports about Muslims, in this climate of ignorance and  panic, aggravated by hate campaign, aided by big media and powers that be. Main points are :

A CCTV footage showed a Muslim man in a petrol pump of Gujarat, dropping something on the ground, on April 22: Some people speculated that the man intentionally dropped currency notes to spread coronavirus .

ABP News anchor Vikas Bhadauria tweeted the video saying, “Did he purposely drop the note or it fell by mistake? What could be his intentions?” As of this writing, his tweet drew close to 2.5 lakh views and 6,000 re-tweets.

TV9 Gujarati aired the video claiming that a man in Gujarat’s Navsari threw a Rs 20 note creating a coronavirus scare.

Several users on Twitter and Facebook have shared the video claiming,  After taking money, he threw a note from his other hand.

Facebook page S24 News Channel uploaded the video with a caption in Gujarati – “Navsari: An incident where notes were thrown has come to light..

BJYM Telangana spokesperson Roop Darak tagged Alt News asking if the man “willingly threw a note”.

Alt News that made a fact-check was informed by inspector P P Brahmabatt of the Navsari rural police station, Gujarat:

Police questioned the man, Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh, a resident of Valsad, and the petrol pump dealer .They found that his right hand is paralysed after he had met with an accident, and does not function properly which is why the notes fell out of his hand. “We took him for a medical examination and found that he does not have symptoms. He has been advised home-quarantine,” the inspector replied.

Police accepted he dropped the note unintentionally. But held, given bail.

Ilyas showed his hands and explained : I met with an accident in 2009… and has problems since then : there is movement in the hand but I cannot use it effectively. I didn’t even realise when the notes fell out of my hand.

X-Ray reports and films confirmed the problems. See some below:  .

A complaint however has been filed against him, and he was held for travelling from Valsad to Navsari during the lockdown. “I have implants in my spine which sometimes pain. So I have to visit the hospital in Dabhel for a check-up every 2-3 months.”

“I was subsequently given bail (!) and have been staying at home as advised by the doctor,” he explained.

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Post-Truth Era : Fake Reports Refuted Officially, But Still Circulated

Some fake reports went viral, despite denials by the official agencies; the media outlets were asked to withdraw their reports, but fake news continued:

Jamaatis defecated in the open? Police found it “wrong and untrue”  

On April 5, 2020, the Hindi daily Amar Ujala carried a report on the front page alleging : “After UP’s Bijnor, a new case came to light in Saharanpur. When they did not get non-vegetarian food, the quarantined Jamaatis here threw away the food and defecated in the open,” the report claimed.

Amar Ujala, with a readership of 4.7 crore, as per Indian Readership Survey, is one of the largest dailies of India.Fake news was circulated in such and some other mainstream media outlets too, not to speak of social media.So-called all India English newspapers and channels  too carried this literally shit news.

The police informed that SHO Rampur Maniharan was directed to lead the probe and he found that the claims propagated on social media, newspapers and news channels were completely false… found to be “wrong and untrue”. Police used its official Twitter account to reply to the tweet.

The police also advised the newspaper to check before posting any such thing on social media. Police used its official Twitter account to reply to the false tweet. But the poison is spread widely, even if withdrawn later.

“This was the second case in the last 24 hours of fake reports that were later exposed by the police.”

In Prayagraj, one Lotan Nishad was allegedly killed by a person who had links with Tablighi Jamaat, and reported by a number of TV channels and shared on social media too. On April 5, Sunday, Prayagraj police refuted these allegations and clarified that neither the victim nor the accused had any links with the Jamaat.

In Firozabad, Zee Media, in UP and Uttarakhand, was spreading fake news against the Tablighis, tweeted and shared : “Four Tablighis tested corona positive, stones were pelted at the medical team that came to pick them up.”

Firozabad Police were swift in their response : “False and misleading news is being spread by you while neither medical team nor ambulance vehicle has been pelted in any way in Firozabad district. Immediately delete the tweet that you have made,” police tweeted from its official Twitter handle. Following which the media organisation took down the tweet.

But such fake news is often picked up by others, shared and tweeted otherwise, through social media and whatsApp groups elsewhere.

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How fake news is manufactured and disseminated by co-ordinated efforts: An example 

‘Banana vendor urinated on fruits’ in a fake video, and he was depicted as a Mulla!

Facebook user Rupendra Singh, who claimed to be associated with the RSS, posted the videos and said, “In Bijnor, this ‘Mulla’ (Muslim man) urinated in a bottle, then sprinkled it over bananas. He has been arrested. Be careful.” At the time of writing this article, this post was shared more than 17,000 times, wrote Priyanka Jha, of altnews.in, on 24th April 2020.

Bijnor (UP) police probed and informed that prima facie the video appears to have been made for spreading rumours. But the details need to be studied to see how fake news is manufactured and disseminated by co-ordinated efforts. 

The video shoot was done by some other man.

A video of the incident was also tweeted by Suresh Chavhanke, editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News,along with the message, “In UP’s Bijnor, this Jihadi was caught [filling] bottles with urine and sprinkling it on fruits.” In his tweet, Chavhanke talked about economic boycott [of the Muslim community] and proclaimed that his claim is a hundred per cent true.

 

 

 

Wikpedia about it : Manufactures and disseminates fake news, charged several times for that. The logo has a mythological Sudarshan chakra, likely to be mistaken in this corona era.   .                         

Wikipedia says :

Suresh Chavhanke, editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News, Hindi channel, was an ABVP leader, and is an RSS activist,who asserts of practising ideology-driven journalism, and regards news as part of opinionated campaigns. He is notorious and was arrested in 2017 for inciting communal hatred. In 2018, Delhi Minority Commission issued a notice to him for his anti-Muslim false news. In March 2019, a Kozhicode Court ordered him to pay a compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs to Malabar Gold, a leading jewellers firm with 12500 employees, owned by a Muslim businessman, in a defamation suit, wherein the editor was charged with broadcasting morphed visuals. In 2020 Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren asked police to take action against him for his hate speeches.He issued a call for economic boycott of muslims. He is known to be a manufacturer of fake news, and disseminates the same.  

On April 22, BJP’s official all India spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted the video with the same claim. Wikipedia says he was a Surgeon who did his MS, took to politics, and “has been involved in falsifying, giving misleading information, or making false claims in TV debates.” Thus he changed his speciality from surgery to skulduggery.

Bijnor police probed and informed that prima facie the video appears to have been made for spreading rumours. They clarified: the old man seen in the video is Irfan Ahmed who sells seasonal fruits (see photo below) roaming around the city. He is not a mulla. On April 20, he was selling fruits in Bukhara colony when he went to urinate in a lane. Subsequently, he washed his hands with water from a bottle kept on his cart and later sprinkled the water over the fruits and drank water from the same bottle.

Irfan Ahmed of Bijnor (UP), vendor of fruits. Punished for a crime he did not commit (AltNews)

Irfan Ahmed was initially arrested but he has now been given bail and sent to a quarantine ward. Police are looking for the people who uploaded the video on social media.

Alt News, a leading fact-checker agency, which analysed this and such other cooked-up stories, also found a copy of the FIR filed in the matter. It was tweeted by a Twitter handle Najibabad Express. In the FIR as well, there is no mention of the man sprinkling urine over fruits. The FIR matches with the police’s statement. “We spoke to one of the people who had filed the FIR and confirmed that it was not about sprinkling urine over fruits.”

(For more on fake stories exposed,visit:  https://www.altnews.in/subscribe-alt-news-via-email/?subscribe=error#463)

After the exposure by the police, he twisted the story, says AltNews:

Rupendra Singh, whose post we found on Facebook, had initially claimed that a “mulla” was sprinkling urine on bananas. He later added “as it is being claimed” to the message to rid himself of the responsibility of peddling misinformation. “The man accepted his mistake,” was also added to the message even though all that viewers can see is the old man apologising when he is hounded by locals. He does not “accept” that he sprinkled urine on the bananas.

One report, published in mainstream media too, claimed that the quarantined Jamaatis had asked for non-vegetarian food… misbehaved with hospital nurses… spat on doctors etc. in several districts of UP : Saharanpur, Bijnor, Agra, Kanpur, Kushinagar, Rampur, Allahabad and Ghaziabad etc. UP Police denied most of these stories.

The UP government had even formally launched a crackdown on misinformation and fake news, and asked its social media cells of all zonal and district police units to keep an eye on social media platforms and news publications. But the blitz continues unabated.

 

KUSHINAGAR : Hindi daily Amar Ujala and others carried out a sensational article alleging that 14 suspected Tablighis who had come from Nizamuddin were arrested from Kushinagar. Vinod Kumar Mishra, the SP clarified: ” They do not have any link with Nizamuddin; they were daily wagers from neighbouring Nepal; due to lockdown, they were stranded here and are now quarantined.”

BIJNOR : Another daily Hindusthan reported that 13 people, including eight Indonesians, who were kept in the quarantine of Bijnor Dt, after participating in the Tablighi program, created a ruckus at the hospital and demanded eggs and biryani. A news channel Sudarshan TV reported and tweeted that they misbehaved with sanitation workers and abused them. However, the Bijnor Police have denied these allegations.

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Fake news led to violence against Muslims : PIL in Supreme Court

Countercurrents Collective, April27,2020, in its report titled Attacks On Doctors And Media : A Few Case Studies, mentionedDilshad Ali (22)  who returned from a Tablighi gathering in MP, where he had gone 45 days ago to attend the same, was beaten up on April 5 (later hospitalized) in north Delhi, soon after he returned home from Bhopal. ..Ali was first stopped by authorities near Azadpur vegetable market and sent home after a medical examination cleared him.

Abdul Alim Jafri, of newsclick.in reported, on 07 Apr 2020, several such fake news items from UP. He gave details:

The muslim youth was allegedly taken to a field in the village, kicked, punched and threatened that he would be set on fire. The villagers suspected that the youth came to the village to spread the COVID-19 virus. The attackers —  in a purported video of the incident — can be heard asking him to reveal the conspiracy of spreading the deadly virus in the village.

The victim had reached the village near Delhi from MP hiding in a truck carrying vegetables (allowed to ply). It created panic, some youth of the village allegedly took him to the field by force in the dead of the night, even as the victim kept pleading for mercy with folded hands. The assault  was allegedly filmed by one of the attackers, and it went viral on the social media.

The badly injured Ali was first taken to Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini, from where he was referred to GB Pant Hospital, where his condition was said to be stable. His father filed an FIR, and a few assailants were detained.

https://www.newsclick.in/covid-19-series-fake-news-targeting-muslims-exposed-police-district-admin

Thus panic aggravated by fake news was leading to hate crimes, especially in North India.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a prominent Muslim body, filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking directions from the Centre to curb dissemination of ‘fake news’, which was leading to hate crimes and violence .This has led to serious “threat to life and liberty of Muslims” and the violation of their “Right to life under Article 21”, the petition said, adding that most reports had used terms such as “Corona Jihad”, “Corona Terrorism” and “Islamic Resurrection”.

Not stopping such communal reporting would only “promote ill-will, enmity and hatred towards the Muslim community in India”, the petition added. (See next section on Hate Crimes.)

Such fake media reports were a violation of the Supreme Court’s March 31 order directing media outlets “to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated”, the petition added.

But the Court was unmoved. When it came to this petition, there was no such direction, even advisory. Instead, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, on April 13 Monday, “We cannot curb the freedom of press.”

The Court deferred for two weeks hearing on the petition seeking directions to curb media coverage. “We want to take solid and long term measures. We are not going to pass any interim order at this stage,” CJI Bobde said. It means the media can go on unhindered for two weeks at least.

https://countercurrents.org/2020/04/200-million-indian-muslims-vilified-now-in-the-name-of-covid-19

Fake news led to Hate Crimes.

Tarique Anwar in newsclick.in reported on 07 Apr 2020 :

On April 6, another video went viral on the social media, showing a group of residents, allegedly from Shastri Nagar in New Delhi district, asking fellow residents not to allow entry of Muslims in their neighbourhood: “No Muslim will be allowed to enter or leave the area without showing Aadhaar card. These people have created a mess. The disease is spreading.” The Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police reportedly launched a probe.

A few residents of the locality confirmed that they had decided not to allow any Muslim in the area …A purported video shot in Uttarakhand is also doing the rounds, where a few men are heard asking Muslim fruit vendors to wind up, citing the Jamaat event, while non-Muslim vendors are being allowed to continue sales.

In another incident, a man reportedly committed suicide in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district on April 5 after alleged harassment by locals for coming in contact with two people who attended the Markaz’s event. Later, the man was tested negative for the infection.

See for more https://www.newsclick.in/Vilification-Campaign-Against-Tablighi-Jamaatis-Resulting-Hate-Crimes

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Separate Ward For Muslims in Govt. Hospital, Gujarat: USCIRF mentions it

This report is perhaps the climax of Islamophobia, promoted by state agencies.

Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, which has 1200 beds for Covid patients, has been segregated into two, it was widely reported during April 15-17. Generally, hospitals have male and female wards, but here we have one for Hindus and one for Muslims, said the Chief Dr. Gunvant Rathod. Why? “It is a decision of the (State) Govt. And you can ask them.” Health Minister Nitin Patel told The Indian Express (April 17,2020) : ‘I am not aware…I will enquire about it.’

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Modi’s natural democratic ally,  commented on this: “ Such actions only help to to further increase ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in India, and exacerbate of false rumours of Muslims spreading Covid-19”(PTI April19).

The background of stigmatization was well summed up by the title of an article in the leading international journal, foreignpolicy.com, March 28, 2020 : In Delhi, First Came the Pogroms. Then Came Coronavirus. That was by By Yashraj Sharma.

(For more: foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/28/india-delhi-first-came-the-pogroms-now-theres-coronavirus/)

See also : Attacks on Doctors and Media: A Few Case Studies


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