In a news bulletin aired on 22 April, News18 India's editor and anchor Aman Chopra said that a 300-year-old temple was razed in Rajasthan’s Alwar district to avenge the demolition of a mosque's gate in Delhi's Jahangirpuri.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) had recently conducted an alleged anti-encroachment drive in Delhi's Jahangirpuri, wherein several shops were razed and the gate of a mosque in the area was demolished. This was after violence broke out in the area during a religious procession.
However, the inference drawn by Chopra was misleading as the temple in Alwar was razed on 17 April, while the mosque's gate in Jahangirpuri was demolished on 20 April.
Rajasthan Police, on Monday, 25 April, filed two First Information Reports (FIRs) against Chopra on allegations of disturbing religious peace in the country.
Chopra started his evening show by asking the question, "Is the attack on Mahadev to avenge Jahangirpuri?".
He then went on to say, "Two days ago a bulldozer demolished the gate of a mosque in Jahangirpuri and today (22 April), three temples were razed in Rajasthan's Alwar. Is it just a coincidence or revenge for what happened in Jahangirpuri?"
Graphics during the show also stated that the temples were razed on 22 April.
Chopra and guests on the show blamed the Congress government in Rajasthan and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for demolishing the temple. Chopra had also tweeted similar claims but later deleted his tweet. The video of the bulletin was still available on YouTube while this story was being written.
The same claim was made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajasthan's Twitter handle in a now-deleted Tweet.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We looked for reports on the demolition drive in Rajasthan's Alwar and found several reports in Hindi and English. A report published in The Print said that on 17 April, nearly 90 homes and three temples were razed to the ground as part of an alleged anti-encroachment drive.
In a press statement issued on 22 April, District Magistrate Shivprasad Nakate, too, talked about the demolition of the temples on 17 April.
Nakate added that the district administration had taken a unanimous decision to remove the illegal encroachments on the roadside during the municipality meeting. The statement added that the municipal body had issued 81 notices asking for encroachments in public places to be vacated, and people were given enough time.
However, days after the demolition drive, the Rajasthan government suspended three officials, including a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), news agency ANI reported on Monday, 25 April.
The news about the temple being bulldozed caused a political uproar with BJP and Congress locking horns over the issue. While the Congress is in power in the state, the municipal body in the area is headed by the BJP.
We found that the videos shown in the news bulletin were there on Twitter since at least 18 April, two days before the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri took place.
News reports on the incident also mentioned that the demolition drive started on 17 April and the temple was demolished on 18 April. The video of the incident, however, started getting shared later.
WHAT HAPPENED IN JAHANGIRPURI?
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), on Wednesday, 20 April, conducted an alleged anti-encroachment drive in Delhi's Jahangirpuri, days after the area witnessed communal clashes on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti.
The Supreme Court later ordered the halting of the demolitions, but by then, several shops had already been razed. The NDMC also demolished the gate of a mosque in the violence-hit area.
Evidently, Chopra and BJP Rajasthan gave incorrect dates of the demolition drive that took place in Rajasthan's Alwar to create a false narrative.
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