What ought to be expected from the ‘gold standard of credible journalism’ when a goof-up happens on-air? Most definitely a retraction and perhaps an apology. How about a cover up?

Maulana Qadri ye keh rahe hain ki jab woh namaz ke liye aakhen bandh karte hain toh unhe Priya Varrier dikh rahi hain (Maulana Qadri is saying that when he closes his eyes for namaz, he sees Priya Varrier). This is what senior anchor with Aaj Tak Anjana Om Kashyap said at the beginning of her evening programme ‘Halla Bol’ on February 14.

Alt News had published an article on how the quote attributed to Qadri was fake and was from a parody account which many social media users unwittingly fell for. What was shocking though was that Aaj Tak took the quote to be true and used it in its programme. The anchor however sought to rationalise the reportage when her channel was called out. Kashyap came up with a series of tweets that tried to explain why the programme was broadcast.

Qadri in the following clip is speaking to Aaj Tak, where he says “If inappropriate words have been used for our Prophet, then it is wrong and cannot be tolerated. We condemn it and expect inquiry and legal action to be taken“. This statement of Qadri has been put by Kashyap in its defence to say that the programme was with regard to the objection over the song by certain groups.

The above tweet by Kashyap was retweeted by Aaj Tak. Interestingly, this sound bite of Qadri was NOT a part of the evening programme. However, his photograph and ‘quote’ was used by the channel for the show.

Kashyap put out two more tweets emphasizing on Raza Academy’s stance vis-a-vis this issue claiming that the Academy wants a ban on the song and that the spokesperson of the academy was grilled because of their conservative stand regarding the issue.

However the allegations levelled against her on social media were never about Raza academy. Alt News in the past has written about how Raza Academy have time and again tried to act as self-appointed guardians of Islam. Despite the spirited attempt at justification, Kashyap conveniently side-stepped the issue of using a fake quote from a parody account for its broadcast. The below tweet by Kashyap was in the run up to the programme on February 14. She says “Maulana ka gussa iss baat par hai ki namaz ke liye aakhen bandh karne par unhe iss ladki ka chehra dikhta hai! Vacuum cleaner lana!” (Maulana is angry because when he closes his eyes for namaz, he sees this girl’s face! Bring the vacuum cleaner!). Kashyap has now deleted her tweet.

Words that he never uttered were attributed to an individual and conflated with the report of the police complaint that was filed in Hyderabad over the song. There was absence of due verification with regard to the details of the story. There can be no objection to a debate over the filing of the police complaint over the song or Raza Academy’s stand on the isue, but Kashyap and Aaj Tak’s attempt at whitewashing the tweet and the introduction to the programme only serves to garner even greater attention to the faux pas, not to mention the fact that a person has been maligned in the process and there is no semblance of an apology from the channel.

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About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.