After the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 12, 2019, a wave of protests against the law began taking place in different parts of India. These were soon followed by protests in several other countries. While analyzing how various organisations covered the protests, Alt News found that the coverage of Asian News International (ANI), the New Delhi-based news agency, was skewed. ANI published multiple reports and tweets on pro-CAA demonstrations abroad but failed to report a single overseas anti-CAA protest.
In the course of this story, we will look at ANI’s coverage of various pro-CAA demonstrations by the Indian diaspora, and how they failed to report the anti-CAA protests in the same or surrounding geographical areas.
On January 26, 2020, ANI tweeted multiple images from a pro-CAA rally in Edinburg. The tweet said, “Scotland: Members of Indian diaspora demonstrate in Edinburgh, in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct.” ANI also uploaded a 90-second video on their website as well.
— ANI (@ANI) January 26, 2020
On the same day, The Telegraph published an article covering anti-CAA protest in multiple cities in Europe. The report said, “Multiple protests have taken place in London, New York, Oxford, Leicester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, the Hague and Paris, despite reports of intimidation from right-wing CAA-NRC supporters based in those cities.”
On December 21, 2019, The Hindu reported that Indian students are organising a series of protests at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Both these incidents were overlooked by ANI.
On December 25, 2019, ANI posted an article on their website. According to the report, pro-CAA demonstrations were held in various cities of the US including Austin, Raleigh, and Seattle.
On January 5, ANI tweeted images of the people who gathered in support of CAA in Washington on January 4 and said, “Washington: Members of Indian diaspora demonstrate in Seattle, in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct. #USA (4.1.2020).” Alt News could also find a report about this gathering on ANI’s website.
— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2020
However, ANI “missed” the anti-CAA protests done in other parts of the US, including Washington DC, just a few days before December 25. The Statesman reported on December 23 that large numbers of people gathered near Mahatma Gandhi statue close to the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, and held a peaceful demonstration against the CAA. This was reported by The Hindu, Business Today and Times Now News as well.
The Financial Express published a report on December 29, 2019, which stated
On December 28, 2019, ANI reported that people gathered outside the Indian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan to spread awareness on the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
On December 21, 2019, Asia Community News published an article which reported that a group of Indian students were planning to conduct a peaceful anti-CAA protest at the University of Tokyo on December 22. Ravish Kumar, senior NDTV journalist, posted a video of a protest in Tokyo on December 27. However, ANI didn’t report anti-CAA protest from Tokyo.
New York, USA
On December 30, 2019, ANI tweeted, “New York: Members of Indian diaspora demonstrate at Times Square in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct (29.12.19) #USA”
— ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2019
On the same day, Outlook India and The New Indian Express reported about an anti-CAA protest at Times Square, New York. On January 27, Al Jazeera published a reported, “Thousands of Indian Americans, joined by several civil rights organisations, have staged protests across dozens of US cities against policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that critics say undermine the country’s secular constitution.” This protest was held outside the Indian Embassy.
On January 4, 2020, ANI tweeted, “United Kingdom: Indian diaspora staged a demonstration outside Parliament Square in London, in favour of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct.” Alt News could also find a report about this event on ANI‘s website.
— ANI (@ANI) January 4, 2020
The Wire‘s report on December 19, 2019, stated that hundreds of people protested outside the High Commission of India in London on the eve of December 18 despite the rain, to protest against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). ANI did not cover this incident either.
On January 4, 2020, ANI posted a video of Indo-Americans gathered in support of CAA outside the CNN Headquarters in Georgia, Atlanta.
India Abroad Publications, a US-based publishing house, reported on January 19 that, “South Asian Americans came out in large numbers in several cities across the U.S. to protest against India’s citizenship laws. Protests were held in Seattle, Washington; Fremont and Los Angeles, California; Decatur, Georgia; Jersey City, New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; and Detroit Michigan.”
On January 5, 2020, ANI tweeted images from a pro-CAA rally in Chicago held on January 4 and said, “USA: Members of Indian diaspora demonstrate in Chicago, in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct. (4.1.2020).” Alt News could also find a report about this event on ANI’s website.
— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2020
On December 22, Twitter user @IamOnir posed a video which shows the anti CAA NRC protests. He said, “Chicago against CAA NRC ! #IndiansAgainstCAA_NRC”
— Onir (@IamOnir) December 22, 2019
Other anti-CAA protests ANI “missed out”
According to a Hindustan Times report from January 27, 2020, “The anti-CAA protests in at least 30 US cities were organized by recently formed Coalition to Stop Genocide, comprising several organizations like Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Equality Labs, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).”
On January 16, 2020, India Today reported about anti-CAA protests in Blackpool, England; Bern, Switzerland; Munich and Berlin in Germany; Krakow and Warsaw, Poland.
On December 28, 2019, Twitter user @nasthu posted images from the protest in Warsaw and said, “#NRC_CAA #NRC_CAA_Protests A true patriot can’t sit as a mute spectator- Protest from Warsaw, Poland.”
— Ebrahim Nasthar (@nasthu) December 28, 2019
On December 17, 2019, India Today published a report saying, “the ripple effect of protests on campuses across the country reached top educational institutions in the world including Oxford, Harvard and Yale and MIT.”
The Hindu reported that on December 20, 2020, that students and academicians from various universities in the Netherlands, including the University of Leiden, University of Groningen, and Erasmus University, protested against the CAA and the NRC by peacefully assembling in front of the Indian embassy in Hague.
On December 23, 2020, journalist Farheen Rizvi tweeted images of anti-CAA protests in Washington DC in from the Indian Embassy.
Protest against #NRC and #CAA today on Dec 22nd in Washington D.C. in front of Indian Embassy. This is going to be a long struggle for Indians and all Indians living across the world. Support them if u support minorities’ rights. pic.twitter.com/CIhPio39cC
— Farheen Rizvi (@FarriRizvi) December 22, 2019
Additionally, NDTV‘s senior journalist Ravish Kumar posted videos and photos of protests against CAA in various parts of the world including – Harvard University in the US, the University of Oxford in the UK, Berlin, London, California, Sydney, Paris, Poland, Ukraine and UK.
On December 24, 2019, Scroll posted a graphic on Instagram which maps anti-CAA protests around the world, based on data collected by students of the Oxford University.
Despite large scale anti-CAA protests held abroad, ANI has only posted articles and tweets about scanty pro-CAA demonstrations. As a wire agency which provides updates to various news agencies in South Asia, ANI‘s bias has the potential to function as the fodder of misleading information amplified by the mainstream media. The omission of anti-CAA reports on ANI feed gives readers the impression that the legislation has been largely welcomed by the Indian diaspora living abroad when in reality, people have come out in large numbers to oppose CAA.
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.