Police planted report connecting Maoist with DU Prof, reports ToI

The <i>ToI </i>has put the blame of planting the fake news report on Sukma’s Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

The Times of India has come out with a clarification over its report ‘Maoist nails DU Prof, top activist’ published on May 18, saying that the Maoist’s version had come from police sources and not from the Maoist himself.

The single-column clarification published on Page 2 on Friday highlights the perils of relying on unnamed police sources, known for planting both information and misinformation in the media.

The belated clarification reads: “The story cited a person named Podiyam Panda, described by police as Maoist operative, as confessing to being a link between Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and activist Bela Bhatia and Maoists.”

It went on to add: “The report may have inadvertently created the impression that our correspondent had got Panda’s version directly from him, when in reality, it came to her from Sukma’s Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena and others, who were present at the briefing by Meena in his office.”

The headline of the story in question has also now been changed to ‘Maoist confession forced, says DU professor' on ToI’s web edition, even as rest of the report reads the same as did on May 18.

Not too long ago, ToI had come under scathing criticism for carrying two reports on missing JNU student, Najeeb Ahmed. The front-page report was titled: “Najeeb saw Islamic State (IS) videos, websites” and another report on page three with a three-column bold headline that read: ‘Najeeb searched for information on IS.’

The reports were picked up by numerous other media outlets such as Zee News, Aaj Tak and Times Now. Attributing unnamed police sources, the report had claimed that Najeeb searched for ways to join ISIS’.

But, on March 22, Delhi Police made it clear that the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed had no links with ISIS. Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Madhur Verma denied that any report had been received from Google and YouTube. He clarified that no submission of any such evidence was ever made by Delhi Police in the High Court and there was nothing in the Delhi Police investigation that suggested any link between the missing student and ISIS.

Despite widespread condemnation of the ‘malicious and misleading’ report, and despite the Delhi High Court rapping Delhi Police on its knuckles, also asking it to investigate how the ToI reporter had carried the unsubstantiated and misleading information, the story is still up on the site of ToI.

The paper, however, had carried a single column denial on page five of its edition dated March 22. The headline of the denial, based on the statement by DCP Verma read: ‘Police deny Najeeb report’.

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