On August 21, ANI tweeted that “people in Lucknow” were cutting a cake this Bakrid instead of sacrificing goats. The media outlet also quoted a man from the Muslim community who said, “the custom of sacrificing an animal on Bakrid is not right.”
People in #Lucknow are preparing to celebrate an eco-friendly #Bakrid by cutting cakes with a goat image. A buyer at a bakery says, “The custom of sacrificing an animal on Bakrid is not right. I appeal to everyone to celebrate the festival by cutting a cake instead of an animal.” pic.twitter.com/C5EJ73dKM1
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) August 21, 2018
A similar report was carried out by News18. The media outlet posted a video where one “Molana Tauqir Ahmed Naqvi” says that he buys a cake every year because he does not believe in sacrificing animals. News18 introduced Tauqir as a “customer”. He is the same man who was photographed by ANI. The cake in this report was also identical to the image of the cake uploaded by ANI.
As reports of both the media outlets mentioned “people in Lucknow”, it could be inferred that many members of the Muslim community across the city decided to celebrate Bakrid by cutting a cake instead of sacrificing goats. However, this was misleading as we will find during the course of this article.
What is the truth?
On August 23, The Times of India (TOI) published an article titled, “Cut cakes, end slaughter, says RSS arm, sparks row”. The report said that “the RSS-affiliate Muslim Rashtriya Manch on Wednesday (August 22) asked its members to cut cakes with goat caricatures to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha.” According to the report, the Manch has 13 lakh members.
TOI also included an image of a few members of the Rashtriya Muslim Manch cutting a cake that looked similar to the ones shared by ANI and News18. The man in the picture looked similar as well, however, this could not be conclusively said as the photograph used by TOI was not very clear.
The Times of India quoted the Vice President of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Raees Raja, who said that the practice of not sacrificing goats has been followed by the organisation since its inception in 2002.
Alt News contacted Raja who confirmed to us that the Manch is affiliated to RSS, of which he is also a part. He added that it is run under the guidance of RSS leader Indresh Kumar.
When asked if the images used by ANI and The Times of India pertained to the same Bakrid celebrations, Raja affirmed. He added that the man clicked in all the photographs is also the same person and his name is Tauqir, which was also the name of the “customer” provided by News18. A video of members of the Manch, including Tauqir celebrating the festival at their karyalay is attached below.
As it turns out, ANI and News18 misreported RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch as “people in Lucknow” cutting a cake.
Celebrations of the Manch have been covered by ANI in the past when it did not omit to mention the outfit’s name. In 2016 ANI wrote “RSS Muslim wing” and 2017, it mentioned the name of the outfit “Muslim Rashtriya Manch”.
It is unclear what prompted ANI and News18 to omit the fact that RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch members cut a cake to celebrate Bakrid. However, the omission might have given readers the impression that many members of the Muslim community across Lucknow followed this practice, which was not borne by other media reports.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.