At Peak Of Tractor Rally Violence, Some Journalists Spread False News That Police Shot Dead A Farmer
The man, identified as Navneet, was killed in an accident when his tractor toppled, as per police.
New Delhi witnessed violence and large-scale vandalism on 26 January when the scheduled tractor rally by protesting farmers took an unruly turn.
Many of the rally participants broke all rules agreed upon between farmer union leaders and the police, and broke barricades, destroyed property such as buses and police vehicles and attacked the police.
During the peak of violence in the afternoon, some prominent Twitter accounts and personalities irresponsibly put out unverified news that a farmer was shot dead by police.
Police denied this immediately to other media houses, saying the man was killed when his speeding tractor turned turtle while breaking barricades.
Reports have now emerged that the post-mortem report of the man’s body has confirmed there were no bullet injuries.
Among those who put out the unverified information were journalist and news anchor Rajdeep Sardesai and far-left news publication The Caravan.
Sardesai was present on the ground.
When asked (by an in-house reporter from India Today) about a protester’s death, Sardesai , “There is a dead body which is there, which was shown to me of an individual who is allegedly Navneet Singh. 24 years old. Was reportedly driving one of the tractors. Comes from western UP. And because he has been shot in the head and suffered a bullet injury which has resulted in his death, I think the people out there feel that they want answers to who shot Navneet…”
“One person, 45 year old Navneet killed allegedly in police firing at ITO. Farmers tell me: the ‘sacrifice’ will not go in vain..#groundzero,” his tweet said.
After some time, Sardesai quietly deleted it.
He soon posted another tweet, saying “the farm protestors allegations don’t stand”.
“While the farm protesters claim that the deceased Navneet Singh was shot at by Delhi police while on a tractor, this video clearly shows that the tractor overturned while trying to break the police barricades. The farm protesters allegations don’t stand. Post mortem awaited,” he posted, but gave no apology for his earlier tweet.
The Caravan put out a series of tweets saying an “eyewitness” told them that the farmer was killed by firing.
The Twitter handle of The Caravan, which has close to 3 lakh followers, has still not deleted the tweet thread or given any clarification about it.
“An eyewitness told The Caravan that he saw the police firing from behind the grills of the Andhra Education Society,” one of the posts say.
“Eyewitnesses said they saw police personnel fleeing from the spot after Navneet was shot,” another post says.
Besides, Congress mouthpiece National Herald too made this claim in a news report, attributing the information to no source. “One killed in police firing at protest site at ITO, Delhi during farmers’ tractor rally,” said the report.
The National Herald report, which can be accessed here, had not made the correction at the time of publishing this.
What we know about the unfortunate death
The deceased has been identified as Navneet Singh Hundal from Bajpur in Uttarakhand. He died near the ITO.
The CCTV footage of the incident is available. It shows a blue tractor crashing through yellow Delhi police barricades at high speed and roll over twice, before coming to rest by the side of the road.
Times Now has put out a report saying one of their reporters happened to be present at the site of the fatal incident.
As per the reporter, the man was speeding when his tractor turned turtle and got buried under it. When the policemen around tried to pull Navneet out, fellow protesters prevented the police from doing so.
Further, Avinash Chandra, ADG Bareilly, has been quoted by news agency ANI as saying that his post-mortem shows he died of antemortem injuries and not any bullet wound.
The Times of India, in its print edition today, has quoted a Delhi police spokesperson as saying that the police had been strictly told not to fire at the protesters at all.
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