4 times ‘Padma Shri’ Rajdeep Sardesai brought disgrace to journalism

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on Thursday was openly caught peddling fake news about the health of Former President Pranab Mukherjee. On the morning of 13th August, Sardesai in a tweet falsely claimed that the former President has passed away. Later, Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee came out to clarify about his father’s health and slammed Sardesai for peddling fake news.

“My head hangs in shame when I see corporate media houses , few Journalists & many social media users here in India resort to peddling fake news in a deliberate & desperate attempt to garner publicity,” tweeted Abhijit Mukherjee. Abhijit clarified that the former President is alive and is haemodynamically stable.

Finding himself on the receiving end of scathing criticism for his insensitive urge to break news, even if a false one, that too regarding country’s former President, Sardesai issued an apology. But this was not the first instance, when the man who is a Padma Shri award recipient and claims to be a “Senior journalist” was caught peddling fake news. Rather, this was just the recent one in a long string of similar instances when he first peddled fake news and later apologied after getting caught. Below, we are sharing four such incidents from Sardesai’s career:

1 – Bundelkhand starvation claim

During the national lockdown period, Rajdeep Sardesai in a tweet had claimed that hunger was stalking parts of Bundelkhand and that a person with whom one of his correspondents spoke for a story, died because of it. He then asked, “when will government ‘packages’ reach the poorest families?”

Sardesai tried to imply that people in Bundelkhand’s banda region were starving due to shortage in supply of rations. Along with his tweet, he attached a video showing pre-funeral preparations of a person.

However, refuting the claims by Sardesai, the District Magistrate of Banda, shared the details of the deceased person. He informed that the man’s wife was a ration card holder and had procured 20 kgs of wheat and 15 kgs of rice on April 1, 2020, 5 kgs of rice on April 17, 20 kgs of wheat and 15 kgs of rice on May 6 and then 5 kgs of rice and 1 kg of chickpeas on May 18, all free of cost through various government schemes. He also informed that the man died due to prior illness and not starvation.

2 – CBSE exam cancellationclaim

Earlier this year during the Anti-CAA riots in East Delhi, Sardesai claimed that CBSE exams had been canceled in the area. “Breaking now: CBSE exams will not be held in north east Delhi tomorrow in view of the violence. While local netas and criminal gangs settle scores, the citizen suffers. Will action be taken against those who provoked the violence?” he tweeted.

However, it was not long before Sardesai was left red faced as CBSE exposed his lies publicly. Responding to him, CBSE informed that there were no centres in North East Delhi which meant there was no question of exams getting canceled. “Sir there are no exam centers in north east Delhi for CBSE exams tomorrow,’ the CBSE account respectfully told him.

3 – BHU VC at Modi rally claim

During the run up to the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Sardesai had claimed that the Vice Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University (BHU), Girish Chandra Tripathi participated in the political rally of Prime Minister in Kashi. Much slanders were hurled at Mr. Tripathi by Rajdeep and his ilk.

However later it was revealed that GC Tripathi, the VC of BHU never left his office while PM Modi was in the city of Kashi. Instead, some over enthusiast journalists like Rajdeep mistook another person in the rally for BHU VC.

Now whether it was really a mistake or something else is best known to Rajdeep et al. But he was later forced to eat his words and issue a public apology.

4 – False claim about IPS Rajiv Trivedi

In 2007, when Rajdeep was the editor in Chief of CNN-IBN, in program titled “30 minutes – Sohrabuddin, the inside story”, which was aired on 13 May 2007, it was claimed that IPS Rajiv Trivedi had helped Gujarat Police in nabbing Sohrabbudin Shaikh and provided them with vehicles carrying fake number plates to export him to Ahmedabad.

IPS Trivedi filed a case against Rajdeep, accusing him of tarnishing his image. The case continued for over ten years, with several attempts by Rajdeep and his associates to squash it. But once everything failed, Rajdeep in 2019, submitted an affidavit in the court, explicitly admitting that the news run by his channel was a “false.”

In the affidavit, Rajdeep Sardesai wrote, “there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that Vanzara and Pandian nabbed Sohrabuddin and Kauserbi in Bidar with help from S.P. Rajiv Trivedi from Hyderabad, Special Investigation Unit and hence it was a false news telecast about Shri Rajiv Trivedi, IPS.”

By repeating same mistake in exactly same pattern over and over again, Rajdeep has begun to be perceived as a serial offender. It remains to be seen whether any concrete actions are taken against him, either by his employers or authorities after the most recent incident.