Paresh Rawal, an MP from Ahmedabad East, Gujarat and a Padma Shree awardee, tweeted on May 21 that instead of stone pelters, Arundhati Roy, a Booker Prize awardee and a vocal supporter of Azad Kashmir, should be tied to an army jeep. He went on to say that journalist Sagarika Ghosh should also be treated the same.
He deleted his tweet yesterday.
This hatred of MP Paresh Rawal seems to have instigated from a fake news which was also picked up by many mainstream news channels and print and digital media.
The fake news
70 lakh Indian Army cannot defeat Azadi gang in Kashmir: Arundati Roy gives statement to Pakistani newspaper!
Posted by The Nationalist on Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Postcard News is allegedly a fake news website which created the story tweeted by MP Rawal sourcing The Times Of Islamabad which is also a fake news website. Later on, in an interview with The Wire, Arundhati Roy told that she had not been to Srinagar or made any statements about Kashmir, except for a short piece that she wrote in Outlook last year. She categorically denied the accusations.
The remark made by Paresh Rawal was also in reference to an incident that happened in April when a Kashmiri man was tied to an army jeep as a human shield. Subsequently, in many interviews, the Kashmiri man said he was not a stone pelter, but was on his way back after casting his vote in the recently-concluded poll in the Valley. This is when CRPF personnel picked him up and tied him to the jeep.
MP Rawal’s tweets would not have gained importance if they were made by a common citizen. But it became important because it was tweeted by a member of the Parliament. One of his tweets got more than 11,000 retweets and 20,000 likes, which highlights the number of people he is influencing.
Social media is filled with the debate around the topic, with few condemning and many praising him.
Why was his tweet dangerous?
This is one of the rare cases where an MP is publicly inciting violence – a blatant disregard to his position that comes with a responsibility.
You may disagree with Arundhati Roy’s views and also condemn them. However, asking her, or anyone, to be used as a human shield is not only wrong but a dangerous idea. It is best to ignore a comment you disagree with, or if it is extreme, take a legal recourse.
Use of human shield is considered a war crime by Geneva convention, of which India is a signatory. We recently approached International Court of Justice to release Kulbhushan Yadav. Remarks like these from an MP, not only lowers our position at such places but also damages our reputation as the most vibrant democracy and peace loving nation.
If someone wants to resort to violence in reply to a conversation and dialogue, then he/she is nothing more than a criminal.
More importantly, such remarks also normalise violence. MP Rawal’s comment has resulted many people, including singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya, asking Arundhati Roy to be shot dead. After his tweet, Abhijeet’s account was suspended.
Time has come for the people like Arundhati Roy to be shot at sight , can't be tolerated any further…
Posted by Anand Prakash on Monday, May 22, 2017
dont tie her on the jeepshoot her instead.#ISupportPareshRaval
Posted by Yatin Sangoi on Monday, May 22, 2017
While MP Rawal might have ideological differences with Roy, however, as a respectable MP he should have never incited violence against her.
Why portals that intentionally create fake news be shut with action taken against those who run them?
The news which instigated MP Rawal seems to have been intentionally created. Postcard News is known to create many such fake news, one of which was, “BBC named the Indian National Congress as one of the ten most corrupt parties ever.”
As reported by The Wire, the identical story against Arundhati Roy was published on the same day under the byline ‘Anand’ on another Hindutva-oriented fake news site, satyavijayi, and under the byline ‘Ankita K.’ in a third Hindutva fake news site, theindianvoice. Other fake news sites that ran the identical story were theresurgentindia, revoltpress, virathindurashtra.com, while a fifth fake news site, internethindu, ran a slightly different version but, helpfully, provided a link to the Times of Islamabad source.
We live in a time when fake news cannot be ignored anymore as false stories are now literally taking lives of people.
Jharkhand mob lynching which took lives of 7 people was instigated by fake photos/videos forwarded on WhatsApp. People were gullible enough to believe fake news as true.
As we progress into an era where profits and political agenda are top priorities, separating such news from the real ones is getting even more difficult.
There are many who support the idea of fake news to create nationalistic sentiment and also defend it. A person/website that maligns an individual/organisation by intentionally creating fake news cannot be a well-wisher of this nation.
The need of the hour is to unitedly condemn fake news, irrespective of our ideology and the political party we support.