Clip on Lack of Jobs Falsely Linked to 'Religious Conversion Scam'
We asked experts who told us that the people in the video were talking about jobs and not religious conversion.
Hindi TV news channel News Nation aired a bulletin on Tuesday, 22 June, in which the news anchor misinterpreted the statements made by two individuals in sign language and falsely linked the video to the ongoing investigations by the Uttar Pradesh Police in an alleged religious conversion scam.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the UP Police is investigating the alleged scam and has made several arrests in the last few days.
The nearly three-minute-long video showed two persons conversing in sign language and the anchor interpreted what they said. He later brings on a sign language expert, who corrected the anchor but got cut off in the middle of the segment.
We also reached out to the two individuals seen in the video and got the original video interpreted by other sign language experts. The experts told us that there was no mention of 'religious conversion' in the clip.
The two persons – Krishan Kumar and Ravinder Kumar – who are members of the Haryana Deaf Society told us that the video was from November 2020 and they had made it to highlight the issue of government jobs for people with hearing impairment.
The duo claimed that hearing-impaired people were not able to get government jobs reserved for them in the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) and that's what the video was about.
"The persosns in the video say that if you change your religion, your life will become better," the anchor had said. While talking about the alleged 'religious conversion scam', the anchor, Anurag Dixit, went on to say that children with speech and hearing disabilities were targeted and added that the ATS was going to interrogate the owner of Noida Deaf Society, Ruma Roka.
He then went on to link the video with this case and said in Hindi, "These people were trying to brainwash the speech and hearing-impaired children by promising them jobs and other things".
He then brings brought on a sign language expert and asked her to interpret the video. The expert tried to explain that the interpretation provided by the anchor was not correct and she tried to explain what was being said in the video.
However, the anchor continues with his claim that the two persons in the video were talking about religious conversion.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
First we reached out to the Noida Deaf Society (NDS) who told us that the two individuals seen in the video were not associated with them.
An interpreter from the NDS told us that the interpreter who was on the News Nation bulletin gave the correct interpretation and the anchor was wrong in linking the video with religious conversion.
We then reached out to other sign language experts for interpreting the video and they said, "The men are from Haryana Deaf Society. In the video, they said that they wanted to file a case and a lawyer was helping them do that. They said that the lawyer was supposed to charge them Rs 2-3 lakh and they had eight days to arrange for the money. Nowhere in the conversation did they mention religious conversion or anything of that sort".
"They mentioned that they had applied for jobs in the government sector and that people who are in the hard-of-hearing category were getting the jobs but deaf people were not getting the jobs," the interpreter added.
We later made contact with the two individuals in the video. We interacted with the two people, who are deaf, with the help of an interpreter.
The duo seen in the video are Krishan Kumar, vice-president of Haryana Deaf Society , Fatehabad, and Ravinder Kumar, an executive member of the society.
According to Ravinder, the video was shot in November 2020 and was supposed to be shared with the people who had applied for government jobs under HSSC.
According to him, Group D government jobs reserved for the deaf under the Persons With Disability (PWD) category were being given to those who were hard of hearing and they wanted to file a case against that.
The Quint reached out to the Haryana Superintendent of Services (I) to verify the claim made by Kumar but the office refused to answer.
Ravinder Kumar forwarded the original video (that was shown on News Nation) to us and we verified it with an interpreter that there was no mention of religious conversion.
He also forwarded the petition that the duo had filed in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh in January 2021. The petition was filed against the selection of people from HH (hearing impaired) category to Group D posts.
According to the interim order, "Case projected by counsel is that the selected candidates do not fall within the definition of 'persons with disability' as per the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995."
The next date of hearing has been scheduled on 27 August 2021.
Clearly, the News Nation anchor falsely linked the video of the two individuals to the ongoing investigations by the UP ATS. The anchor also provided a wrong interpretation of what was being said and asserted it was about conversion.
We reached out to News Nation and anchor Anurag Dixit and gave them 24 hours for a response. The story will be updated if and when we receive one.
WHAT IS THE CASE ABOUT?
The UP ATS on 20 June, arrested two men – Mufti Qazi Jahangir Qasmi and Mohammad Umar Gautam - from South Delhi on charges of running an illegal religious conversion racket across the country. Later on 28 June, three more people were arrested, who were Munnu Yadav alias Abdul Mannan, Rahul Bhola and Irfan Khawaja Khan.
After the June 20 arrests, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had told reporters that the two arrested people had boasted to the police of having converted at least 1,000 people to Islam, luring them with marriage, money and jobs.
Speaking to The Times of India, IGP ATS GK Goswami said the accused targeted children with hearing and speech disabilities living in institutions and converted them without informing their parents.
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