On April 14, 2018, news channel India Today reported that Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has expressed anguish over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. Breaking this news on the channel, the anchor says, “In a video message, Kohli says the support for rape accused is really shameful. Listen in”. This is followed by a video of the cricketer in which he is purportedly expressing his views on the incident. Aaj Tak, India Today‘s Hindi counterpart, also broadcast this video message of Kohli as his reaction on the Kathua and Unnao incidents. This has also been reported by Times Now and Hindustan Times in their Hindi editions.
This video message has been circulating on Facebook as well. The page Amethi Rae Bareli ki Kahani which has more than 600,000 followers uploaded this video on April 14 with the caption ‘Emotional Virat Kohli raises questions over Kathua rape case, says he is ashamed he is part of such a society’ (translated). This video has been shared more than 4000 times.
“Akshay Kumar’s blood boils over Kathua rape case” (translated). With this caption, a video of the actor is circulating on social media in which he is expressing his anger and anguish over the gruesome incident of the rape and murder of the 8-year old victim in Kathua, Jammu. This video has been shared by News Tak, which is a mobile-friendly spin-off of India Today group, on its Facebook page.
कठुआ रेप केस पर खौला अक्षय कुमार का खून | News Tak
Posted by News Tak on Saturday, April 14, 2018
The above video was uploaded on April 14 and has been viewed almost 20 lakh times. More than 82,000 Facebook users have shared it at the time of writing.
It turns out that these video messages by Virat Kohli and Akshay Kumar are NOT in relation to the incidents of Kathua and Unnao. They are in reference to the incident of molestation that took place in Bengaluru on New Year’s eve on December 31, 2016 which had resulted in outrage. It was in the backdrop of that incident that these videos has been posted by these celebrities, expressing anger and concern over the incident.
NDTV had reported about this video message by Virat Kohli in January 2017.
Similarly, Akshay Kumar’s message of January 2017 had been reported by India TV back then.
Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar had tweeted about the Kathua case on April 12, calling for justice for the Kathua rape victim.
Yet again we’ve failed as a society. Can’t think straight as more chilling details on little Asifa’s case emerge…her innocent face refuses to leave me. Justice must be served, hard and fast! https://t.co/xrW5RVffLe
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) April 12, 2018
The outrage over the horrific incidents that took place in Kathua and Unnao is understandable, but what is not is the lack of due diligence on the part of the news channel which played old videos of two public figures that had originally been put out in the public domain in a different context. Even a casual perusal of their social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter would have made it amply clear that they haven’t posted any video on this issue.