Republic Says Anti-CAA Protester Fired At Jamia, Facts Be Damned
The shooter made his intentions clear through Facebook. Republic TV, however, had a different narrative.
Panic and chaos reigned in a part of the national capital a little after noon on Thursday, 30 January, after a 17-year-old miscreant fired a shot at a group of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters in the Jamia Milia Islamia University area.
Within minutes Republic TV, an English news channel, ran bulletins blaming the protesting students for this mayhem. The channel’s political editor and anchor went on to suggest the shooter was encouraged by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi adding that this is the ‘real face of anti-CAA protests’.
“Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal should answer how they are supporting. Under which condition are they supporting these kind of people because under CAA this is happening,” the political editor went on to say.
But the narrative that the channel built around this episode, which (for them) started with blaming the anti-CAA protesters, was not just wrong but also provocative.
What Republic TV Got Wrong
Firstly, the news channel identified the 17-year-old miscreant as an anti-CAA protester. Was that the truth?
Well, the teenager wasn’t a part of the group of protesters, but had come to take ‘revenge’.
In fact, he himself made his intentions very clear before he shot at a student, who suffered an injury in his hand. In a couple of Facebook posts which were made before the incident, the teenager said “Azaadi De Raha Hu” which is a reference to the slogans raised by protesters across the country.
In another post he said that he was the ‘only Hindu’ at the spot and no ‘Hindu media’ was present there. He also put up another post in which he said ‘Shaheen Bagh...Khel Khatam (Shaheen Bagh...Game Over).’
However, these details were not registered by Republic TV, which went on to blame the protesters and the Opposition for the incident.
In fact, the channel said that the Delhi Police needs to answer why no action was taken despite the teenager brandishing a gun in broad daylight. What followed this statement was not a question to the Central government or the Home Ministry (to which the Delhi police reports) but the AAP government who as per the reporter was “supporting these protesters”.
“This is the ideology behind this protest. They want eyes on the protest. What’s this way of catching media attention. Anyone who wants media attention will they fire a gun?” the reporter added.
False Ticker Line Blamed ‘Jamia Protesters’
For the whole length of the bulletin, the channel ran top and lower bands which insinuated that the students were the ones behind this chaos. And that the “agenda” of these anti-CAA protests was now clear.
However, speaking to The Quint, Aamna Asif, a third-year Economics (Hons) student at Jamia Millia Islamia, who was an eyewitness to the incident, said, “This armed man was there, walking towards Holy Family Hospital, where all the barricading and police were. We started shouting, asking the police for help to stop this guy. And the police were just standing there and watching. We tried to calm him down, but he fired. He fired randomly, and it hit Shadab’s hand.”
Shadab Farooq is the first year student who was injured and rushed to AIIMS Trauma Centre.
The teenager has now been taken into custody. Speaking to The Quint, Deputy Commissioner of Police Chimoy Biswal said that the police will file an FIR after recording his statement.
In later bulletins the channel blamed "both sides" for resorting to violence.
Arnab Goswami Apologises for Error
Republic TV has since apologised for identifying the 17-year-old miscreant as an anti-CAA protester.
On his first debate at 9 pm on Republic TV on Thursday evening, the channel’s managing director and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami said that they had realised their mistake and corrected themselves after all the facts of the matter came out. He added that their was no malintent, which is why Republic corrected themselves.
“When this incident happened today, in the initial burst of news reports, many people made the mistake and we also made the mistake of thinking that it was a protester who had pulled out a gun. We didn't know there was someone from outside. But, the moment his name came out, his identity came out and the facts came out, we corrected ourselves, okay? So it was a mistake I made, we are sorry for it. I'm saying it on primetime television. There's no malintent from our side, which is why we corrected ourselves,” Goswami said on his first debate of the night, which revolved around the shooting incident.
During the rest of the debate too, Goswami stated that Republic TV had corrected themselves within minutes and said that the shooter was not a protester but an intruder.
(Editors Note: This story has been updated with Republic TV’s reaction to their error in identifying the shooter as an anti-CAA protestor.)
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