Anchor Rahul Shivshankar was overjoyed: Times Now, he said, was the “only channel with visual proof” that the “gunman” Kapil Baisala, who fired three shots in the air near Shaheen Bagh Saturday, belonged to the Aam Aadmi Party — and it had the photographs to prove it. Shivshankar, fulsomely, praised his reporter for obtaining these photographs and condemned AAP for its duplicity on Baisala as AAP leader Sanjay Singh “met him, crowned him…”
Switch to India Today: the same photographs — “Cops release shooter’s images” said its headline. BJP’s Amit Malviya immediately read Sanjay Singh’s mind and revealed that Baisala had been tutored by him and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Singh, naturally, called this a BJP “conspiracy”.
Move on to CNN News 18: Anchor Anand Narasimhan is peering at the same photographs — “Damning pictures emerge?” — on his show. He says AAP is in a pretty pickle — or words to that effect — and invites writer Advaita Kala to comment. She wonders at the “direct link” between AAP and Baisala, finds it “extremely serious” and looks suitably sombre.
So Times Now was not the only one with the photographs, right?
On ABP’s ‘Master Stroke’, Rubika Liyaquat discussed “Shaheen Bagh goli kaand par khulaasa”. It featured Rajesh Dev, Crime Branch, in a byte who said the photographs confirmed the AAP link. Sanjay Singh said that with Amit Shah as Home Minister, many more pictures, videos and signs of mischief will surface before the polls. “We were waiting for this,” he added.
Liyaquat had her own burning questions: if Kapil was an AAP worker, why did AAP hide it, why did Kapil delete his phone’s data to hide his identity? Or was it all a ploy against AAP?
ABP also visited Bainsla’s home and spoke to his relatives, showed them the photographs: they looked visibly perplexed and insisted Kapil had no such links.
Oddly enough, Republic, which usually is alongside Times Now on ‘exclusives’, waited till the 9 pm debate with Arnab Goswami to cover ‘#AAP Gunman’. Goswami looking graver than Advaita Kala, said Bainsla is a “hardcore, card-carrying, permanent member” of AAP and the photos establish a “direct link” between AAP and the Shaheen Bagh shooting.
He launched into a vitriolic attack on “childish, immature” you-know-who that had blamed Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP for the violence—“Will they now apologise?” He singled out historian Ramchandra Guha, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, the “biggest troll” news website The Wire, and The Caravan’s editor Hartosh Singh Bal. Goswami said the “nation wants to know” what they would say about AAP’s involvement in Shaheen Bagh.
Later at India Today, anchor Gaurav Sawant termed the claim that AAP instigated Baisala at Shaheen Bagh, “an innuendo”. Political analyst Javed M. Ansari pointed out that there were photographs of the Prime Minister with rape accused Asaram Bapu and Chinmayanand — did that suggest a link? BJP’s G.K. Agarwal interjected: AAP was clearly connected with Shaheen Bagh, and why were the people protesting there in the first place? “Where is the question of citizenship going away in CAA?” he asked, repeatedly.
Zee News’ election debate with anchor Sachin Arora heard the crowd chant “Modi, Modi”, but anchor Arora pulled a woman with a pro-AAP poster aside, who excitedly asked which other chief minister had offered free water and electricity to people.
AAP’s Jasmine Shah said that the people of Delhi knew that voting for AAP meant voting for Kejriwal, who would only make Delhi stronger, while BJP’s Shazia Ilmi yelled from the back “Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar, Pakistan, Balakot, surgical strikes”, till she eventually grew tired and stopped.
Meanwhile, there were several interviews with Arvind Kejriwal — on NDTV India, Aaj Tak and News X — and he didn’t sing the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ on any of them like he had at News 18 India.
Kejriwal told NDTV that BJP didn’t want to end the stalemate at Shaheen Bagh: how could anyone believe that such a “powerful” man like Amit Shah could not end it if he wanted to, he asked.
There was an unusual exchange between NDTV 24×7’s Nidhi Razdan and BJP’s Parvesh Verma on `Left Right & Centre’. Verma said NDTV 24×7 didn’t show any of the issues BJP had raised other than Shaheen Bagh, Razdan replied, that he didn’t watch NDTV. Verma advised NDTV to stop showing Shaheen Bagh. But you only talk about Shaheen Bagh, protested Razdan.
With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai