A man brandishing a gun fired at a Jamia Milia Islamia student outside the university, during a protest march opposing the Citizenship Act.
The shooter’s Facebook page revealed him to be opposed to Shaheen Bagh (an indefinite sit-in in Delhi opposing the Citizenship Act) and other anti-CAA protests. During his attempts to live-stream the Jamia incident, he also wrote “Shaheen Bagh, game over.”
However, television channel Republic TV claimed that the Delhi shooter was an “anti-CAA protestor”. A studio announcer also alleged that “Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are supporting it [the violence]”. The channel also repeatedly ran text that read “Jamia protester uses gun,” and “Vacate Shaheen Bagh now.”
In fact, the channel went one step further and used the hashtag, #StopProvokingIndia, implying that the gunman did what he did because the Shaheen Bagh and other anti-CAA protests had pushed him to the wall.
Researcher Vasundhara Singh Sirnate posted a Twitter thread on how the channel – which was started by a BJP MP and which is known for its pro-government stance – covered the shooting as the story emerged.
While the police quickly confirmed that the shooter was a young man influenced by Hindutva politics who sought to target the anti-CAA protesters at Jamia, the channel’s immediate coverage of the incident showing it as an act by an anti-CAA protester. A student of mass communication at the university has been injured after a bullet the young man fired hit his hand.
The Republic TV anchor began by saying, “This is no more about the CAA protests, politicians who have openly attacked the Centre have nothing to say about the open act of violence that has erupted outside Jamia.”
Not only did the top band in yellow scream texts like, “Unimaginable escalation”, which wrongly suggested that some violence was already in action when the shooting began, the space was also used to relate the shooting to the peaceful protests at Shaheen Bagh.
At one instance, the banner read, “Vacate Shaheen Bagh” and at another, “Vacate Shaheen Bagh now,” both lead viewers to immediately come to the conclusion that Shaheen Bagh protesters were somehow associated with the shooting.
The dishonest coverage, on the channel, sustained the tone for hours, even when it became abundantly clear who the shooter was and that no anti-CAA protesters, least of all those from Shaheen Bagh, were involved in it.
Several Twitter users called out Republic TV's coverage of the incident including Jaskirat Singh Bawa, Senior Editor, The Quint, tweeted a thread on how the channel misreported for hours.
The channel run by a BJP MP and the host, Arnab Goswami have shown time and again that the channel has taken a pro-government stance. Spreading fake news, propaganda and cultivating hate speech has been a trademark of their channel ever since the channel was started.