Shortly after the tragic death of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and 13 others in a chopper crash on December 8 in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, a vile news clip aired on Kerala’s Karma News, which alleged that colleges in and around Coonoor were celebrating the accident and the deaths. The video, the contents of which were found to be fabricated, showed a college campus party where students are seen dancing, and alleged that the celebrations were for the death of Bipin Rawat, his wife and the 12 others who died in the chopper crash.
However, the press release by Nehru Group of Institutions, a Coimbatore-based college group, clarified that the celebrations were part of the Fresher’s Day events that had taken place on December 7, a day before the chopper crash. The group added that they were taking legal action against Karma News.
According to the fabricated clip by Karma News, “The DJ party was centered around college campuses and men’s hostels of colleges in the places such as Ooty, Coonoor, Kuniyamuthur, Peelamedu and Thudiyalur in Coimbatore district, where the bodies of the crash victims had passed.” In further outrageous claims, the news clip alleged that the Muslim ‘profiles’ of students in the college had the same display picture on their WhatsApp. The party also had codes which were shared, according to the news clip. “'B Positive', 'We never fail' were the codes used for the party. It is using these codes that the students are attending the party and they have even used it as their WhatsApp display picture. The party was held between 6:30 pm and 9 pm on December 9,” the clip falsely states, further baselessly alleging that the hostel students in these colleges had organised the party.
Apart from spreading Islamophobia and defaming the reputation of the educational institutions in the area, the clip also added that investigative authorities should take cognisance of these activities in these colleges.
Soon after this clip circulated, Kuniyamuthur-based Nehru Group of Institutions, which runs colleges, issued a statement debunking Karma News’s smear campaign and confirmed that they were taking legal action against the channel. The press release by the Institution added, “The video that's spreading is that of the students Fresher's Day that was held by the hostel students for their fellow students the day before the sad news.” The press release added that in fact, the college had paid homage to the chopper crash victims. “On hearing the sad demise of our Former Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the 12 brave Soldiers of Our Nation who we lost, we, with our management, students and National Cadet Corps paid homage on December 9, to the brave souls,” the statement added. The statement also added that the rumours were hurtful because Nehru Group’s founder and Chairman Dr PK Das was a former Indian Air Force officer who retired and founded the institution. Further, a big chunk of the Aeronautics College Staff was from the Air Force, Defence and Navy, according to the statement.
Speaking to TNM, A Muralidharan, Director of Nehru Group of Institutions said that the group decided to sue Karma news as the news clip was insulting to the student community of Coimbatore, Ooty, Coonoor etc. “The news clip only vaguely refers to colleges and doesn’t mention specific colleges. But we decided to take legal action as the video alleged that the student community in and around these places were celebrating CDS Bipin Rawat’s death. We have to take action and nip this kind of false propaganda in the bud. It is our duty to do that for these students,” he said.
The college has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore city.