From ‘Pakistan Prem’ on Aaj Tak and India TV, and ‘Jihad zeher’ on Zee Hindustan, to India Today’s ‘Modi Hate Club’ and Republic TV’s ‘Toolkit Fake News’, there was no dearth of villains on TV news this week.
Speaking of villains, can Rahul Gandhi ever be far behind? He added himself to the cast with his ‘political jabs on vaccination drive’ (CNN News18) and questions about the gap between vaccine doses, which so incensed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that its spokesperson Sambit Patra took a jibe at Gandhi’s jab and made headlines: ‘Has Rahul Gandhi taken the vaccine?’ (Zee Hindustan)
Into this gallery of rogues, entered one saffron-clad champion. No, not Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who, by the way, has been displaced by Karnataka’s B.S. Yediyurappa as the CM with the most TV advertisements where he thanks Prime Minister Narendra Modi for free vaccines – it was Ramdev, the man who stands on his head and still wins hands down.
When NDTV India solicits Ramdev’s advice on International Yoga Day, when India Today’s anchor performs asanas with him, and nearly all Hindi news channels grandstand him, you know he has replaced the Prime Minister as the yoga master of the mat.
Oh, and Arnab is back—after a two-month gap (Republic TV).
Also read: TV news relived ‘Sushant, one year later’. But Galwan anniversary coverage disappointing
TV’s Kashmir love
Over to the ‘Gupkar in Delhi Durbar’ (India Today): after political parties in Jammu and Kashmir accepted the invitation for talks with the central government on Thursday, news channels welcomed the ‘Govt-Gupkar Dialogue’ (Times Now) and the prospects of a ‘Naya Kashmir’ (CNN News 18). On Sunday, CNN News18, in a ‘mega exclusive’, said that Jammu and Kashmir could ‘regain statehood’ and Times Now predicted ‘integration’ and ‘delimitation’.
So when the Gupkar alliance Tuesday agreed to the proposed talks, the picture on TV news looked as rosy as the flower-in-bloom in the Valley. That was before the full import of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks, in which she suggested, among other things, dialogue with Pakistan, sunk in.
And so it was that on a sultry Tuesday afternoon in NCR, where most news channels reside, anchors were hot — and bothered. Restoration of Article 370, statehood, etc., could be set aside — but Pakistan?
Mild reproof like ‘Mehbooba against Naya Kashmir’ (India Today) and ‘Gupkar has revealed its agenda’ (Aaj Tak) gave way to ‘Gupkar mein kitna Pak prem? (Zee News), ‘Gupkar ka Pakistan Pyaar’ (ABP News) and India TV’s unkindest cut of all — “Gupkar Gang ke dil mein Pakistan”.
So incensed was ABP’s anchor Rubika Liyaquat with PDP’s Rouf Bhatt that she snarled: “Have you come as a Pakistani or Indian?” Anchor after anchor demanded to know what business Pakistan had in Kashmir — what, indeed. “Can there be any talks?”, “Is there any point to talks?” they asked PDP, National Conference and Congress representatives, on their shows.
Also read: Mystical Modi to migrating Jitin Prasada — News channels offer ‘real’ entertainment
‘Third front’ second gang
Soon enough though, one ‘gang’ made way for another — ‘Anti-Modi group meeting underway’, said Republic TV, as members of several opposition parties and the Rashtra Manch met at the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s Delhi residence. Once again, India TV saw the group in the poorest light—it set about identifying individuals in ‘Modi hate club’ — Yashwant Sinha, Jayant Chaudhary, Javed Akhtar, Omar Abdullah, who, it claimed, were consumed by their hatred of the PM.
In contrast, Mirror Now and NDTV 24×7 merely referred to the gathering as the ‘Third Front’ while Republic TV reduced the PM to a sticky, adhesive substance: “Modi becomes glue…” for opposition parties, it said.
However, these issues caused news channels only momentary heartburn — what really upset them was the Muslim ‘Conversion Racket’.
Also read: On Indian TV news — Anulom vilom after heart attack and ‘Corona jung’ with Baba Ramdev
TV can’t do without Hindu-Muslim
For the most part of three days, Zee Hindustan has covered the allegation that two men, arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police, were part of a nationwide gang, nay network of Muslims, who were converting we don’t know how many Hindus.
What is remarkable and worrying about the coverage is the absolute conviction with which the police version of events was delivered as fact to viewers. The police allegations may prove to be true but surely, it’s too early to tell?
News channels have never allowed such niceties to bother them.
“Forced conversion” was how Times Now put it, adding, “Lured with jobs, junkets, wealth and wife…”
Disabled children in Ghaziabad were, reportedly, the immediate target — “poor Hindus”, said News18 India. “Ganda hai dharma ka Dhanda,” said Zee News, adding that “1,000 people converted” by the two men — “Who knows how many cities see this happening?”
Hindi channels detected a sinister design in the alleged crime: “Koi jihad hai?’’ asked the India TV anchor on Tuesday afternoon, “to increase the Muslim population?”
Why is it that ‘jihad’, ‘love jihad’ always rears their ugly heads on TV news channels when there is something involves Muslims?
Times Now summed up the allegations Monday evening: the busted conversion gang had links to Pakistan, ISI for funding; it aimed at radicalisation, to spread hatred and change the demography of the country—bit much, asked the anchor.
Zee Hindustan toured the premises of the school the converted children attended — it was closed, empty. What the channel wanted us to see beyond empty rooms is baffling. More pertinently, it visited the families of some ‘forcibly’ converted children, like one Aman Yadav.
Republic TV, India Today, Times Now would also investigate the case of Aman and the ‘mass’ conversion racket. According to the latter, more than 20 families in UP had come forward with conversion stories.
It was left to Zee Hindustan to put the fear of God into viewers: ‘Jihadi poison, keep an eye on your children’.
Views are personal.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)