Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday took a dig at The New York Times for its reporting of Sunday’s violence at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. This was his second such remark in as many days about an international media outlet – he had criticised Financial Times on Monday on the same matter.
Javadekar wrote on Twitter: “It seems NY Times consists of the most ardent bhakts [devotees] of Lord Ram as they seem to find him everywhere.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader appeared to be referring to an article on the website on The New York Times with the headline, “Masked men attack students in rampage at university in New Delhi”. The report cited witnesses who claimed that the attackers “shattered windows, attacked medics and yelled, ‘Hail Lord Ram!’”.
The newspaper described “Hail Lord Ram” – a translation of the Hindi slogan “Jai Shri Ram” – as “a reference to a Hindu god that has become a battle cry for far-right Hindu nationalists as India has grown more polarised under Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
Along with his tweet, Javadekar tagged a Twitter user’s post mocking the newspaper for the claim and for its reference to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad as a “far-right Hindu organisation” and communists as “liberals”. The ABVP is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of Javadekar’s party.
The minister continued: “On a serious note, waiting to read NY Times ground reporting of the violence and religious persecution from Shri Nankana Sahib. Which slogans did they hear there?”
Last week, a mob had had pelted stones at the Nankana Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan, which led to condemnation from India. Leaders in the ruling party cited the incident to make a case for the recent controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. A search for articles about the attack on The New York Times website led to no results.
On Sunday, a masked mob, allegedly comprising Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members armed with sticks and hammers, attacked students on JNU campus. At least 34 people, including teachers, were injured in the violence. Later on the same night, group of right-wing activists sloganeering outside the university’s main gate heckled, abused and threatened several journalists reporting on the violence. Scroll.in has traced WhatsApp messages planning the attack on JNU students – as well as celebrating it – to ABVP activists.
The following day, Javadekar alleged that “Congress, Communists, AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] and some elements want to create environment of violence in universities across the country”. He also criticised Financial Times for referring to the attackers as “nationalists” and accused the newspaper of not understanding India.