On March 28, several news outlets including News Nation reported that Muslim men entered a Hindu place of worship and interrupted aarti in Maharasthra’s Malanggad. At 4:13 minutes into a six-minute broadcast, News Nation showed two structures and claimed that the dargah on left is Baba Malag’s tomb while on the right (pointing at a blue shed) is Machindranath’s tomb.

On April 6, Alt News reached out to News Nation editor-in-chief Sanjay Kulshrestha, Maharashtra chief Vikas Shrivastav and reporter Pankaj Mishra who had visited Malanggad. Kulshrestha refused to speak with us and the broadcast was quietly taken down from across social media accounts of News Nation. A downloaded copy can be watched below. “On the hill, we have Baba Malag’s Mazar and right next to it lays Machindranath ji’s samadhi which means both Hindu and Muslim communities were present…” the anchor can be heard saying.

Below is a screenshot of a tweet that has also been taken down. “Why did namazi enter samadhi during aarti? Who raised Islamic slogans during aarti? What did you get after interrupting the aarti, bhai jaan? Battle in samadhi in Maharashtra! Why was Allah-o-Akbar chanted in Baba’s samadhi?” read the tweet.

Background

In a report published on April 3, Alt News had found that members of the Muslim community indeed interrupted an aarti performed on Holi, March 28, when Muslim festival Shab e-Barat was also observed. However, Muslims did not enter a temple.

The conflict took place at Haji Malang which has historically been referred to as dargah by the Government of India. In 1986, Shiv Sena claimed that the dargah was the site of the 700-year-old Machindranath temple. Since then, a section of the Hindu community regards the dargah as a Hindu place of worship. The Supreme Court recognised Haji Malang as a dargah in 1954 and 1968, but the conflict awaits any verdict.

News Nation identifies a shop as Machindranath Samadhi

The visuals aired by News Nation neither showed Haji Malang nor the site of Machindranath’s tomb. We reached out to Rizwan Khan, son of the chairman of Haji Malang Baba Dargah Trust, who pointed out –

  1. Haji Malang Dargah shown by News Nation (left) is actually Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah.
  2. Machindranath’s tomb shown by News Nation (right) is a shop.

Structure on left: Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah

The first point can be established based on Google Maps visuals. The mosque’s dome and the blue shed were easy to spot. The area around the domb is pinned Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah.

The following comparison shows a visual match between Google Earth visuals with the pictures aired by News Nation.

The conflict between the two communities took place at Haji Malang dargah which on a higher altitude. The following Google Earth screenshot shows the same.

  • Red: Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah
  • Green: Haji Malang dargah

Khan also shared multiple pictures of Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah. One of them has been shot from a distance while the other shows a close-up of the mosque and the adjacent shop with blue shed.

Structure on right: Shop

News Nation referred to the blue shed, next to Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah, as Machindranath’s shrine. However, this a shop next to the mosque. The owner of the shop Moiddin Abba Mohammad Shaikh told Alt News, “I saw the video by News Nation. I can confirm that the blue shed shown by the channel is my shop.”

At the moment, Shaikh is in his hometown Kerala. Md Altaf, Moiddin’s nephew, sent a video clip from the shop where he is explaining, “The shop belongs to my uncle Moiddin Abba Shaikh. That’s the first dargah [pointing at the mosque] at Haji Malang also know as pehli salami (first shrine). News Nation’s clip from March 31 shows this location. In that bulletin, from 4:20 to 4:33 seconds, the channel has shown our shop as samadhi.”

News Nation misidentified two locations while reporting on the communal conflict that took place in Malanggad’s Hali Malang Dargah on March 28. The channel aired visuals of Bakhtiyar Shah Baba Dargah as Haji Malang Dargah and an adjacent shop as the shrine of Machindranath. Last year, when Delhi’s Nizamuddin was recognised as a COVID-19 hotspot, TV9 Bharatvarsh aired visuals of the ground floor of the Markaz building as an ‘underground tunnel’.

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About the Author

Archit is a graduate in English Literature from The MS University of Baroda. He also holds a post-graduation diploma in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism. Since then he has worked at Essel Group's English news channel at WION as a trainee journalist, at S3IDF as a fundraising & communications officer and at The Hindu as a reporter. At Alt News, he works as a fact-checking journalist.