New Delhi: Is there a coronavirus pandemic with numbers increasing every day in India? You wouldn’t think so if you watched TV news: Coronavirus took a backseat on prime time Tuesday. The explosive news of the day was the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Crime Branch on the Northeast Delhi riots that occurred in February. The chargesheet named activist Umar Khalid, AAP leader Tahir Husain and several others as conspirators of the riots, and the usual suspects jumped at the chance to attack them and the infamous ‘tukde tukde’ gang.
The continuing tensions between India and China were also a cause for concern on India Today and Aaj Tak.
On Republic TV, Arnab Goswami went after AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, all guns blazing.
“The riots were coordinated and were trying to burn India” claimed Goswami with his usual bluster.
“All this planning had obviously been done before, it was happening right at Shaheen Bagh. They were trying to create a divide in the country,” said Neera Mishra, social entrepreneur and member of the fact-finding NGO ‘Call for Justice’.
Meanwhile, Pradeep Bhandari, founder of Jan Ki Baat, a public opinion forum made some tall claims: “There is a global plot — they are using these fringe groups to create anarchy in India.”
Zee News was back to blaming the Delhi riots on the ‘tukde-tukde gang’. Anchor Aman Chopra tried to prove that the northeast Delhi riots were part of a pre-planned conspiracy of both the ‘tukde tukde gang’ and Tahir Hussain.
Calling Hussain, the ‘master-mind’ of the Delhi riots, Chopra said that the Delhi Crime Branch report proves all of Zee News’ previous claims about the conspirators behind the northeast Delhi violence.
He also attacked Khalid — “Umar Khalid, yaad haina? Wohi Bharat tere tukde tukde honge– inshallah inshallah wala,” (You remember Umar Khalid? The ‘India will be in pieces, inshallah guy’).
‘India Upfront’ with Rahul Shivshankar on Times Now, discussed the Maharashtra government’s decision to use the services of the Popular Front of India, a Kerala-based Muslim organisation, to bury deceased Muslims. “Islamists given pedestals?” screamed a rather tonedeaf headline.
Shivashankar asked a loaded question, “Can Shiv Sena any longer claim to uphold Hindu rights when it has chosen to have a working association with an organisation whose members are alleged to have Islamist links?”
Author and scientist Anand Ranganathan claimed that the “PFI is an organisation neck-deep in acts of terror.”
In response, advocate S. Balan said, “There is nothing wrong if the hospital hand-over the victim’s body to PFI.”
As the debate proceeded, it became increasingly difficult to understand as people began shouting over each other, always a classic. In the midst of all this, Dr T.A. Rehmani, National Secretary, Social Democratic Party of India, said, “There is a difference between ‘Hindu & Hindutva’.”
India Today chose to focus on the rising India-China tensions along the Line of Actual Control on ‘Newstrack’ with anchor Rahul Kanwal. Things got slightly tense on the debate as well.
Political analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra claimed that “after going through the satellite images we found very few things that seem to indicate that any kind of incursion is happening (at LAC).”
He even accused the “other side” of claiming that a possible-Kargil like situation is brewing on the border, without any actual proof.
Hitting back, military veteran and defence analyst Colonel Ajai Shukla snarkily said that studying satellite images actually required skill and experience. “It is not the job of a civilian geo-political analyst to indulge in satellite image interpretation,” he said.
“I hope you know that the Defence Minister has admitted that there are large numbers of Chinese troops on the other side of LAC,” he added.
Aaj Tak’s ‘Dangal with Rohit Sardana’ also focused on the cross border tensions between India-China.
Sardana bombarded Tibetan Prime Minister Lomdang Sange asking him what Tibet’s stand was and why it had not spoken to China about these tensions. “Ladakh is a part of India, what clearer could I say? Once Tibet’s issue is solved, India- China will also figure out solutions for these issues, a way to conduct the dialogue to end tensions,” Sange assured.
Major General G.D. Bakshi (retd) was rather optimistic about India’s response — “Jaise ko taisa hum de rahe he” (Tit for tat).
Unlike Aaj Tak, ABP News concentrated on a different solution to teach China a lesson — ‘Boycott China’.
Anchor Rubika Liyaquat talked about a ‘Remove China’ application, which she claimed had been downloaded on over 50 lakh smartphones. She also mentioned the boycott call issued by education reformer Sonam Wangchuk.
Most of the show, therefore, was about the need for ‘atma nirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India).
Things got heated between BJP’s Ram Kadam and Congress’ Supriya Shrinate as Shrinate said that Kadam’s claim that 130 crore Indians want “Bharat to become Atma Nirbhar,” contradicts the ruling government’s stance on it, as she cited increased investment from China. Oops.