NEW DELHI: A video of an Emirati man saying “Jai Siya Ram” in Abu Dhabi went viral after being shared by major TV channels such as Times Now and Zee News, on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Abu Dhabi. However, it also resulted in massive embarrassment for the media houses.
The video was from a programme conducted by spiritual leader Morari Bapu in September, 2016. While Times Now and Zee News acknowledged the video was old, they claimed that the man in the video, who is actually a UAE-based journalist, was the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The first to crack down on the news channels for circulating a fake video was Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News.
The newspaper’s website published a scathing report, accusing Indian news outlets of spreading “false propaganda” to “gain political mileage in India.”
The Gulf News report pointed out that the Crown Prince was Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day parade in 2017. The report said that Indian media groups were incapable of “responsible journalism” for not being able to correctly identify the Crown Prince.
Saying the video was fake, the report said it was a “clear indication that the mainstream media in India is falling prey to propaganda and fake news”. The report also pointed out the timing of the story being posted, which was just before Modi arrived in UAE.
“The patter of a known fake and out-of-context video being deliberately recirculated multiple times by a selected section of the Indian media is a clear pointer that the objective of the exercise is to spread malicious and false propaganda on a swathe of unsuspecting news consumers,” the report said.
While the UAE Embassy in India did not issue a statement, its official handle on Twitter shared the Gulf News report.
While Zee News has deleted the story online, Times Now updated the story to reflect the real speaker in the video, but has not issued a statement of correction.
The video gained a lot of traction online, with several notable people sharing the video on Twitter. The video went up around the same time as fake images emerged of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi that the Prime Minister was to inaugurate.