After a video of Rahul Gandhi speaking about the vandalisation of his Wayanad office was doctored to make it seem like it was a comment on the murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur, the news channel apologised, calling it a “human error”.

A collage of Rajyavardhan Rathore on the left and Rahul Gandhi on the rightPTI
news Controversy Sunday, July 03, 2022 - 12:52

TV news anchor Rohit Ranjan, BJP national spokesperson Rajyavardhan Rathore and others have been booked by Jaipur police for allegedly spreading falsehood by sharing a doctored video of Rahul Gandhi. The FIR was registered on a complaint lodged by local Congress leader Ram Singh at the Banpark police station. The complainant alleged that Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan in his show aired a statement of Gandhi on the SFI (Student Federation of India) violence on his Wayanad office and mischievously doctored it to make it seem like it was a comment on the heinous murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur.

The video under scanner is that of Rahul Gandhi’s conversation with mediapersons in his Wayanad office, on Friday, July 1. Speaking of the vandalisation of his Wayanad office allegedly by members of SFI, Rahul Gandhi said that they were “children” and it need not be made into a big deal. However, the video was doctored and reported as if the comment was made regarding the Udaipur killing.

The complainant claimed that the video was doctores by the media group in conspiracy with former Union Minister Rathore, Major Surendra Poonia (retired) and Kamlesh Saini, who also shared the clip on Twitter to reap political advantage and trigger public sentiments. "The anchor and the promoters of the TV channel were clearly aware that what Gandhi stated was for the youngsters in Wayanad and not the killers of Kanhaiya Lal," the complainant said in the FIR.

An FIR has been registered under IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections 504 (intentional insult), 505 (criminal intimidation), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, etc.), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Gehlot criticised the channel for running the incorrect report. "Gandhi had said that the children who did this (vandalised his office in Wayanad) they've acted in an irresponsible way. They are kids, forgive them. But the TV channel and the anchor ran that Rahul Gandhi was saying those who killed Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur were kids and should be forgiven," Gehlot said, while speaking at a meeting.

The channel later issued an apology, with anchor Rohit Ranjan saying, "Yesterday, in our show DNA, Rahul Gandhi's statement was taken in the wrong context by linking it to the Udaipur incident, it was a human error for which our team apologises."

Meanwhile, in a letter to BJP chief JP Nadda, Congress general secretary in-charge communication Jairam Ramesh said he was appalled to note that several BJP leaders have been deliberately and enthusiastically sharing "mischievous reportage that occurred on Zee News at 9 pm yesterday".

In his letter to Nadda, Ramesh said that the original video was of Gandhi's comment on the SFI violence on his Wayanad office but it was "deliberately and mischievously doctored" to appear as if it was a comment on the heinous murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur. It was immediately brought to the attention of all concerned that the reportage was false and deliberately misleading, he said.

"What is of even greater concern, is that several of your party colleagues, including Rajyavardhan Rathore, MP, Subrat Pathak MP, Kamlesh Saini, MLA and others, have enthusiastically and without verification published and shared the deliberately fabricated and distorted reportage," Ramesh said in his letter.

"Despite being cautioned by my party colleagues that the clip was maliciously false and misleading, Rathore persisted with amplifying the same, first deleting and then re-uploading the same," he said. This leaves no doubt that Rathore's actions were deliberate and part of your party's strategy to defame the former Congress president, the party and to further polarise an already sensitive, communal situation, Ramesh alleged.

"The fact that some of your colleagues may have deleted the false reportage later after uploading and sharing is no excuse whatsoever because the damage has already been inflicted. We have already initiated appropriate legal action against the original broadcaster. We expect that you and your party colleagues will cease and desist from spreading such falsehoods," Ramesh said in his communication to Nadda.

"Furthermore, I expect that you will immediately issue an appropriate apology on behalf of your colleagues who have acted with such reckless disregard towards the truth. If this apology is not issued today, we will take appropriate legal action against your party and its leaders who insist and persist in using social media in such a blatantly irresponsible and criminal manner," Ramesh warned. However, there was no immediate reaction from the BJP.

In an apparent reference to the issue, Rahul Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi said, "Whole India knows the history of BJP-RSS, which warms its hands by pushing the country in the fire of hatred. No matter how much these traitors try to break the country, the Congress will continue to do more work to unite India," he said.

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