A story featuring a video recently went viral in some major Indian news outlets, purportedly claiming that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi chanted a Hindu prayer greeting at an event organised by a Hindu group.
The unpleasant and seemingly unintended move is actually a carefully planned attempt by some groups, aimed at propaganda and gaining political mileage within India, Gulf News reported.
The clip was tweeted by prominent Indian channels such as Zee TV and Times Now in the build up to the Indian premier Narendra Modi's visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It claimed the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces raised the slogan of “Jai Siya Ram” (a Hindu prayerful greeting addressing the deity Ram).
The Crown Prince, it claimed, chanted the words while addressing a Hindu spiritual ceremony led by guru Morari Bapu in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.
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However, the story is patently false as, the report said, Shaikh Zayed never attended any such event. The person shown in the video is instead a UAE-based columnist and commentator on Arab affairs, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.
The disturbing development is due to the Indian media going overdrive to cover Modi's visit, commenting on every single thing from the food he enjoyed to his legendary hugs to the reported warm reception he was given by his hosts.
The fact that Indian media fell prey to propaganda and false stories is alarming. The report termed such unprofessional approach of the channels an incapability to verify basic facts, something which forms the basis of responsible journalism.
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Furthermore, when traced online, the web footprints were evident it was a clear pattern; they were uploaded just ahead of Modi's arrival in UAE.
For instance, Times Now, tweeted the same video for a second time despite being alerted by Twitterati about the horrendous error.
Similar patterns were played across a number of other channels, meeting the objective of propaganda.
The disturbing pattern of a known, false and out-of-context video being purposely circulated multiple times by a specific section of Indian media was a clear indication that the aim of the exercise was to spread malicious and false propaganda through a swathe of unsuspecting news consumers.