Hafta 272: Arrest of ABP Majha journalist, India Today’s ‘sting operation’, and more


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In this episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kripal, Manisha Pande, and Mehraj D Lone are joined by Supriya Sharma, executive editor of Scroll.Abhinandan asks Supriya about the arrest of an ABP Majha journalist for allegedly spreading false information that might have prompted the gathering of migrant workers in Bandra, Mumbai. Was the arrest warranted, or is the journalist a scapegoat?Supriya calls it a “complete overreach”, suggesting authorities found a journalist to blame and that a lot doesn’t add up. She adds that it’s “unlikely” that the migrant workers watch a Marathi news channel, since a lot of them are from non-Marathi speaking regions. Raman thinks the journalist “became an alibi for government miscommunication”. Mehraj says “blaming the person on the lowest rung” is wrong. “If the journalist was hauled up for misreporting, what about the editor and owner of the channel?” he adds. Manisha says, “Histrionics aside, I don’t see where the reporter screwed up so massively as to warrant an arrest.”Abhinandan brings up Supriya’s report on migrant workers camping out under Delhi’s Yamuna Bridge. Supriya adds that people are reluctant to speak on camera, since they are apprehensive of the consequences of their identities being revealed. Abhinandan says a “distrust of the government”, due to previous experiences, makes people unwilling to get tested for Covid-19.Mehraj explains how this distrust is seen “more starkly” in Kashmir. When a soldier visits your home to beat you up or haul you off to an army camp, he says, your instinct is to run and hide even if they come as part of census activities. “There’s no switch for trust that you can turn it off and on,” he says. Moving on to India Today’s “sting operation” in three madrasas in Delhi, Abhinandan says it adds to the “anti-Muslim rhetoric” in the media. Mehraj thinks the sting happened because of this pre-existing narrative, and “they were trying to find something to force-fit into it”. Manisha says the report didn’t warrant a sting in the first place, considering one of the madrasa representatives voluntarily participated in an India TV report.The panel also discusses the media's “broken model”, Bill Maher’s rant on whether the term “Chinese virus” should be used, and much more.Tune in!

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