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Faux IIT Bombay Students Appear on ABP News Show, Endorse Modi

One of the outsiders, Anil Yadav, has been identified as the member of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a right-wing fringe group.
Faux IIT Bombay Students Appear on ABP News Show, Endorse Modi

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy: Livemint

Outstripping the social media platforms – that continue to be flooded with fake news – one of the leading news channels in Hindi, ABP News, has managed to air an entire “fake” show. It has been brought to notice that in a programme aired by ABP news on March 1, many BJP supporters – who appeared to be IIT Bombay students on the campus – were in fact outsiders, participating only to propagate pro-Modi propaganda.

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In the programme titled “2019 Ke Joshile”, some of the “students”, were allegedly planted by the channel itself. The programme that was broadcast live from the campus purportedly aimed at ascertaining views of IIT Bombay students ahead of the upcoming general elections. It was re-telecast on March 2 morning with the slug: “IIT Bombay Supports Modi”.

The video that had been uploaded on the website of ABP News was removed after the channel was accused of being the carrier of BJP’s propaganda. But, it is still available on their YouTube channel.

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The IIT-B students were officially informed about the event by the general secretary, cultural affairs through the institute’s official webmail. The students were supposed to turn up voluntarily to participate in the programme.

“As we were informed about the programme, we participated. Among the students, however, there was a 10-strong group of unfamiliar faces. And during the programme, they turned out to be the supporters of Modi government,” a student from IIT Bombay told Newsclick.

The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) in the campus first raised the issue of misrepresentation, and they issued a statement, saying that “many who talked to the media in the said show are not the students from our campus”.

As the show had a slug that claimed “IIT Bombay supports Modi”, the students pointed out that it was a clear misrepresentation of the voice of IIT Bombay students.

“As we all will appreciate, IIT Bombay students do hold diverge political views. However, by importing outsiders to our campus, ABP news has tarnished the image of IIT Bombay by portraying it as clearly aligned with a particular political view,” read the statement by APPSC.

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The students have identified at least 10 outsiders who were the part of crowd during the shoot of the show, and one of them has been identified as the member of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a Hindu fringe group.

“Anil Yadav, who is seen speaking to the media (at 18:23), is not an IIT Bombay student. As seen from his Facebook profile, he works at Hindu Yuva Vahini and this for sure makes his views non-neutral. There are more such cases in the video,” said the statement by APPSC.

On the other hand, videos of the students who criticised the Modi government and its policies, have not been featured in the broadcasted video. “More than 50 people were there for the programme and people who have expressed their views against the Modi government and its policies have been edited out during the telecast,” said one of the students from IIT-B.

The students have sought a clarification from the IIT Bombay administration, and they are yet to receive a response. While responding to The Wire, however, IIT Bombay’s spokesperson Falguni Banerjee Naha said that the channel had approached the Institute for their campus space. “We were only hosting the show and had no role to play in the decision making of the show. The institute had not given the TV channel permission to bring people from outside. I am surprised that such a thing even happened,” Naha said.

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Demanding a public apology from ABP News, APPSC said, “As IIT Bombay students, it is our responsibility to ensure that our views are represented in the media and any violation of the same is an encroachment on our rights. Through this act, ABP news is attempting to downsize the capacity of IIT students to voice our opinions by bringing in outsiders to speak on our behalf."

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