Union Minister Jitendra Singh launched a book ‘In the Times of Article 370’ on October 9. “In a rare ceremony of its kind, released a book on #Article370 written by Ayanna Kohli, a 14 year Delhi school girl,” tweeted Singh on the occasion.
The BJP MP had put out another tweet on the book where he wrote, “Even children, across the country, celebrating abrogation of #Article370.” Singh later took down this tweet for reasons unknown.
The book release was also covered by the media. ANI reported that Union Minister Jitendra Singh released a book on Article 370 written by a 14-year-old girl, Ayanna Kohli. Providing the purported synopsis of the book, ANI wrote that it “seeks to draw the inference that it was necessary to revoke Article 370 in order to bring lasting peace in Kashmir.”
The news agency quoted the girl in its report as saying, “In the last two month, I have travelled across the country, I can say the decision to abrogate Article 370 has been celebrated by each Indian.” The same quote was also ascribed to the girl in a tweet by ANI.
PTI also reported that 14-year-old Ayanna “wrote a book on Article 370.” PTI further quoted Singh talking about the book in reference to Article 370 – “the book is a vindication of the gross mental agony and injustice suffered by the children of her age group on account of the now abolished clause of the Constitution.”
Is the book on Article 370?
While the book is named ‘In the Times of Article 370’, it does not talk about the removal of J&K’s statehood and special status. The foreword of the book, penned by journalist Barkha Dutt, mentions that the book is written by Ayanna and her father. The 14-year-old’s father, Umang Kohli, is a serving officer in the Indian army. Dutt writes, “That it is written by a father and his daughter to bring to life what a young soldier on duty may experience on counter-terrorism duty in situations that are unpredictable, but sometimes also moving and uplifting.”
The book is a work of fiction – a story about protagonist Ram, who is an army man.
Speaking to Alt News, Umang Kohli reiterates that the book has no mention of Article 370 except in the preface. He also tells us that Ayanna has narrated his story in the book. “She is a 14-year-old who has written about soldiers’ life in Kashmir. How would she know of all this if not me? She has heard stories from me and my life as an officer. I’m her inspiration behind the book. I have guided her but she has written the book by adding her own imagination. It is a work of fiction.”
When asked if he has co-authored the book, Kohli said, “The story is inspired by me and my life experiences but the book is written by my daughter which is why the author note mentions her name. My involvement in the book has been duly acknowledged. Now whether someone wants to term it is as ‘co-author’ is up to them.”
Union Minister Jitendra Singh and news agencies ANI and PTI, therefore, falsely claimed that the book is about Article 370. Moreover, none of them mentioned that the book is a work of fiction.
ANI misquotes the girl
As mentioned earlier in the article, ANI wrote that Ayanna travelled for two months across the country and found that Article 370 has been celebrated by each Indian. Umang Kohli wrote in response to ANI’s tweet that this statement was not made by his daughter but BJP MP Singh.
ANI later tweeted a video of the Union Minister where he can be heard making the same statement.
#WATCH: Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh says,”In last two months, I’ve travelled across the country, I can say the decision to abrogate Article 370 has been celebrated by each and every Indian. A documentation like this by a child, I think is a vindication for all of us.” (9.10) https://t.co/nyhmO1Ag8Spic.twitter.com/3LlSwgfd9j
— ANI (@ANI) October 10, 2019
ANI misquoted the 14-year-old girl, claiming that she travelled for two months across the country, collecting people’s testimonies on Article 370. The news agency, along with PTI and Union Minister Jitendra Singh, also gave a misleading representation of the book. ‘In the Times of Article 370’ might give the impression that it talks about the dilution of Article 370, however, it a fictional book on the life of a soldier.