TV journalist and News Director of India Today Group Rahul Kanwal on Monday, 3 May, issued a tweet clarifying and apologising for casting aspersions on Shiv Sena by saying that its ‘local hoodlums’ were abusing Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla during the channel’s Assembly election coverage on Sunday.
“The confusion and inconvenience caused is regretted,” the news anchor wrote on Twitter.
What Had Happened
Poonawalla, who is the chief of vaccine manufacturing firm Serum Institute of India (SII) gave an interview to The Times on Saturday, and alleged that he had been receiving threats in India and was subject to unprecedented “pressure and aggression” over demands for the COVID-19 vaccine.
As Assembly elections results for the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal started coming in on Sunday, Kanwal, during the ongoing election coverage on India Today, alleged that he had ‘actually seen’ the threatening demands via a video clip.
“He (Adar Poonawalla) sent me a video, of some Shiv Sena local hoodlums showing up outside his factory and giving him gaalis (abuses), and saying humko pehle do (give us the vaccine first).”
‘Baseless Journalism’: Shiv Sena Reacts
In response to Kanwal’s ill-considered claim, one of the ruling parties in Maharashtra Shiv Sena penned a letter to India Today Group saying that their senior anchor had ‘peddled fake news.’
“... to deliberately defame us through misinformation speaks volumes of the political bias of the anchor. It reeks of malice and misinformation campaign, maybe to divert the national debate on an important day of election result and as the country rages through COVID-19,” the letter read.
The letter urged for action against the journalist, and also sought an apology from Kanwal “on the same platforms that he has voiced this fake news on.”
Following the letter, which was issued late on Sunday, Kanwal issued an apology the next day, saying that the video issued was by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) leader Raju Shetty, and not Shiv Sena.
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