Ranjona Banerji: Sting appeal!

14 Jan,2020

By Ranjona Banerji


How come India Today TV bucked its own well-established pattern and went against the Modi Government narrative on the JNU attacks? I have no real answer. But this wonder did happen. The channel did a sting operation on masked members of the ABVP, student wing of the RSS, to disprove the Delhi Police’s claim that leftist students attacked themselves at Jawaharlal Nehru University on the night of January 5, 2020. No less than star anchor Rahul Kanwal himself presented the sting, while of course applauding the singular work done by journalists.

The result of the sting was that Delhi Police had to backtrack a bit and take a look at videos and claims which were available on social media from the night of the attacks themselves. India Today TV shamed the Delhi Police into doing some real work instead of just parroting whatever script the Union Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah had handed over to them.

Now how long will this wonder, as in India Today TV not the Delhi Police, last? Will this brief, if commendable, foray into journalism by Kanwal & Co enthuse them to try it again? Or we going to go back to stories about how bad boys make the best class monitors or how much BJP leaders love their cows? I know how you cynical people think. You’re going to say this journalism will last until Living Media management gets a call from on high.

Yeah. That about covers it for me too.

How soon will India Today TV prove me wrong?

Anyway, for those who missed it, here’s a taste:


Twitter and fellow anchors from rival channels and some journalists were thrilled with India Today TV for attempting journalism and were most gracious with their compliments. The BJP lot were most upset of course. That is one way of measuring success.


The print and web media, national and international, has however carried some spectacular opinion pieces on democracy and India. Whatever the BJP hoped to achieve by trying to destroy democracy, alienise and otherise Muslims and impose the burden of re-establishing citizenship on every Indian has got the world’s attention and in a completely negative manner.

Regardless of the current stand off between the US and Iran, regardless of the devastating Australian bushfires, regardless of Brexit and the tiffs within the British royal family, regardless of strikes in France, every major publication, broadcaster, news agency and news site has covered the protests in India. Many have been amazed and overwhelmed by the enormous numbers of people pouring out into the streets in spite of police brutality and murder.

Given this shocking shift in stance by Rahul Kanwal and India Today TV, it was reassuring to see that Rahul Shivshankar of Times Cow (and am sure is co-star anchor Navika Kumar) have remained true to spreading their ignorant bile against Indians.

Shivshankar advertised a show with this: “Big Twist in the Jamia protest. ‘Intifada Inquilab’ slogans shouted. ‘Will the so-called secular opponents of the Modi government now condemn Islamic slogans?’

Once again, Shivshankar and Times Cow looks to demonise Islam and thereby otherise Muslims and spread hatred against a religion, a community and Indian citizens who are fighting for their rights as citizens.

The lack of knowledge about the meaning of the words Intifada and Inquilab are just appalling. As is the notion that a language belongs to a religion. Disgusting.

On News 18, anchor Marya Shakil who had expressed dismay at the violence meted out to students at JNU, did not take long to start attacking the opposition, thus rebalancing her standing as a pro-Modi government TV person.


But I leave the second best for last. Imagine if a senior police officer was found travelling with dreaded terrorists and a non-Modi non-BJP government was incharge? Imagine if it was found that this recently decorated senior police officer appeared to have several terror links? Imagine if the investigation is now going to treat this decorated police officer as a terrorist?

I can guarantee you, your TV screens would have exploded!

But alas.

This is Modi’s media in Modi’s India.



Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are personal

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