Uproar over ‘doctored’ Kanhaiya tape

New Delhi: Social media was in uproar on Friday amid claims that a video that first went viral showing JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others shouting slogans seeking Kashmir’s “azadi” may have been doctored with a superimposed audio clip.

The controversial tape emerged from a February 9 event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus, causing nationwide outrage as police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar and cracked down on students in the university.

Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the JNU Students Union and from the CPI-affiliated AISF, was arrested on sedition charges for allegedly raising the “anti-national” slogans at the event organised to commemorate Kashmiri separatist Afzal Guru, who was hanged for the 2001 parliament attack.

The student leader has denied the allegations.

The first video clip fuelled widespread protests and counter-protests, the target being the JNU, where Left student unions have traditionally held sway.

It now appears that Kanhaiya Kumar and the others accused of sedition at the JNU event never shouted slogans demanding freedom for Jammu and Kashmir from India.

A new viral video, said to be the original clip of the event, shows that the students indeed raised slogans for “freedom” – from poverty, fascism, “sanghwaad” (RSSism), feudalism, capitalism, Brahminism and inequality.

The first video clip was telecast by some TV channels including Zee News, Times Now and India TV. ABP News ran the supposedly original video on Thursday evening.

Later in the day, India Today analyzed the videos saying that the audio had been doctored.

But Times Now has since clarified that it didn’t telecast the video. It said that BJP spokesman Sambit Patra “sought to play the clip on his iPad during a debate”.

The channel showed a small clip run on Patra’s iPad but its Chief Editor Arnab Goswami, moderating the debate, told the BJP spokesperson that the video run on some Hindi channels had to be verified.

However, the authenticity of neither of the clips could be independently verified even as Delhi Police has been claiming that it has “adequate evidence” to prove that Kanhaiya Kumar made “anti-national” remarks.

The police also played a clip in a court here on Monday when it heard the case against the PhD student.

Amid the conflicting tapes, many reacted angrily to what they think was a deliberate attempt to frame the Left-leaning student leader. Some of those who shared the “doctored clip” apologised.

Swapan Dasgupta, columnist known for BJP leaning, was among those who had shared the “doctored” clip on Twitter. He withdrew the post on Friday morning.

“I checked with responsible people. There is a part of video clip I re-tweeted that may be dodgy. I erred & say so openly. Larger q’s (questions) remain,” wrote Dasgupta from his confirmed twitter handle @swapan55.

Senior journalist Siddharth Vardarajan, in an online article, sought action against “all those who have worked to ruin a young life” (Kanhaiya Kumar) for “fabricating a case… and peddling forged ‘evidence'”.

Shekhar Gupta, another senior journalist, shared the “un-doctored” video on Twitter and said that maybe Kanhaiya Kumar deserved an apology from the Delhi Police.

“Watch: Kanhaiya demanding Azaadi, but from rioters, capitalism, Manuvad, Brahminvad. He is owed a Del Police apology,” Gupta wrote.

Kanhaiya Kumar, who is from Begusarai in Bihar, was on Wednesday sent to judicial custody till March 2. A section of lawyers assaulted him in the court despite police deployment.
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