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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

UP Police files FIR against 9 entities – Twitter, The Wire and others – for fake news over Loni incident

Ghaziabad Police on Tuesday filed an FIR against nine entities, including Twitter India, over the fake news giving a communal slant to the Loni incident, in which a man was thrashed and his beard was chopped off for fooling people in the name of selling magical amulets (tabeez).

In the FIR, the Police said, “There is no communal angle to the incident in Loni where a man was thrashed and his beard was chopped off. The following entities — The Wire, Rana Ayyub, Mohammad Zubair, Dr Shama Mohammed, Saba Naqvi, Maskoor Usmani, Salman Nizami — without checking the fact, started giving communal colour to the incident on Twitter and suddenly they started spreading messages to disrupt the peace and bring differences between the religious communities.”

Police further said that Twitter has done nothing to prevent the video from getting viral, and named “Twitter, Twitter Communications India Pvt, The Wire, Rana Ayyub, Mohammad Zubair, Dr Shama Mohamed, Saba Naqvi, Maskoor Usmani, Salman Nizami” as accused in the FIR.

Police in the FIR noted that there is no communal angle in the incident.

“The victim Abdul Samad Sufi and the accused have known each other for a long time. The victim sold a tabeez (amulet) to the key accused with the promise that it will bring him prosperity but he [Parvesh] complained that it had an adverse effect on his family. When the tabeez did not work, the accused got angry and had beaten the victim,” the FIR said.

Out of total 6 named accused, Parvesh, Adil and Kallu were arrested on Monday while efforts were on to nab Arif, Poli and Mushahid.

Here are the facts of the case as per journalist Swati Goel Sharma who spoke to the Ghaziabad Dehat SP-

  • Abdul was reportedly beaten up on June 5th, but he never filed a police complaint. On 7th June a local Samajwadi Party leader Ummed Pahalwan Idrisi did a Facebook Live on 7th June with Samad where he alleged that he was forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. The FB live broadcast was done with an SP party backdrop showing its election symbol cycle and a photo of Ummed meeting Akhilesh Yadav. The police learnt about this incident of assault through the Facebook live and approached Abdul Samad.
SP leader Ummed Pahalwan Idrisi (right) with Abdul Samad (left) (Source: Twitter)
  • Finally, Abdul filed an FIR on 7 June around 8 pm, after the Facebook live by Ummed Pahalwan. The statement makes no mention on ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Also, Abdul failed to identify any of the attackers and pretended he didn’t know any.
  • A week later, a video of the assault appeared on the social media, going viral after it was shared by shared by Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of propaganda ‘fact-checking’ site Alt News. The video was kept mischievously muted, to bolster propaganda that Abdul was forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Vande Mataram’.
  • The original video of the assault, with the audio not being muted, has no record of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ ever being mentioned. Those beating up Samad were saying, “Tu aisa kaam karta hai” (‘You do this kind (fraud) of work’).

Now, the fact that there were at least 3 Muslims among the accused would have given pause to any sane person from peddling the false narrative about this being a communal incident where Abdul was forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. The assault video being muted should have been another red flag.

That a so-called fact-checking site Alt News spread the propaganda without doing basic fact-check, or verifying local media reports, or talking to police, shows what the true credibility of such portals which are often used as sources by mainstream media and Lutyens’ elites is.

The muted assault video clearly falls in the category of ‘manipulated media’, a label which Twitter was quick to apply when the Congress toolkit document was being shared but which it has failed to apply here.

Hours after the propaganda over this incident was debunked, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi continued to peddle the fictional narrative. The Loni incident joins a long list of manufactured incidents where Islamists and left-liberals Islamists in Bharat have been trying to create the narrative that “Jai Shri Ram” is a “war cry”. But despite all the debunking of such fake news, Islamist and left-liberal propagandists have succeeded in brainwashing a good number of people.

This FIR lodged against fake news peddlers and the enabling social media platform by the UP Police is a welcome move. But unless the matter is taken to its logical conclusion and deterrent punishment handed out, such elements will continue acting with impunity. Past FIRs filed by UP Police against journalists of anti-Hindu, propaganda outlets like The Wire and Scroll for spreading fake news did not result in any tangible action against accused Siddharth Varadarajan and Supriya Sharma.

It is also imperative that strict legal action is taken against Ummed Pahalwan Idrisi, the SP leader who is said to be the mastermind behind this propaganda. In his FB video, he claimed that he made tall claims of living in harmony with Hindus, but went on to hurl abuses and threatened to ‘tear apart’ those who had attacked Abdul Samad. He added that governments would come and go, but their time would come too.

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