On February 16, India Today ran ‘exclusive’ footage on the events of December 15, 2019, in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). This was after a CCTV video of police charging students with lathis inside a reading room went massively viral. The footage was handed over to the channel by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Delhi police. It was played as ‘authentic’ clip and used to claim that students entered the reading room with stones in their hands.
A plethora of other news organisations carried the clip and claimed that the students had stones clasped in their hands. Among the English outlets were Times of India, Mirror Now, Republic Bharat, Times Now, The Quint and DNA. Some of the Hindi channels were Zee News, Aaj Tak, India TV, NDTV India and News Nation.
Right-wing websites OpIndia and Swarajya carried similar reports.
The channel claimed that the student was carrying a stone each in both his hands. For the purpose of this fact-check, Alt News used a higher resolution video received from sources in Jamia. The video is of the same footage played by India Today. Alt News slowed down the video and watched it frame-by-frame. We found that the student was holding a wallet in one of his hands, and a flat object (possibly a phone) in the other.
Here is the sequence of events – the student enters the room with a wallet in his right hand and a linear object (possibly a phone) in his left hand. At about 10 seconds, he goes out of the frame and comes back at 17 seconds when his right hand is empty. The brown wallet is now visible in his left hand.
The wallet is visible in multiple frames, however, is most clear at the 1:22-minute mark when the student stretches out his arm.
Another clear shot of the wallet can be seen at 2:27. If one notices carefully, the two brown flaps of the wallet are distinctly noticeable and the gap in between is darker – a shade of black.
A flat object
The student holds a flat object in his other hand which could possibly be a mobile phone. It isn’t as distinctly noticeable as the wallet and users are advised to watch the complete video in loops to self-analyse. We will attempt to provide a clean screenshot however there are a few pointers worth mentioning – a stone would typically be irregularly shaped. The object held in his hand is symmetrical and flat.
The video below shows the linear symmetry of the object held in his left hand.
Media outlets therefore jumped to the police’s defence without a basic internal analysis. The student who was portrayed as a stone-pelter was merely carrying a wallet in one hand and a flat object, possibly a mobile phone, in the other. The same student was earlier falsely claimed to be the one who was injured in the January 30 Jamia shooting.
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