In a show aired by his channel NDTV on 25 May, Kumar alleged that he was getting threatening and abusive phone calls day and night. Kumar also alleged that he has been inundated with abusive texts on WhatsApp, targeting not just him but also his family.
The reason behind such hatred directed was reportedly unclear, until AltNews’s Pratik Sinha sent him a link informing him that a fake quote attributed to Kumar was doing the rounds. The fake news quoted the journalist as saying he supported the rapist in the rape of an 11-year-old in a madarsa in Delhi. Kumar clarified that he made no such statement, and that he would “never say something on these lines.”
The defamation, abuse and threats reportedly kept coming. “I was repeatedly sent photos where my face was superimposed on the body of Daniel Pearl who was murdered by ISIS*. I was sent a video as well,” said Kumar. He alleged that he was threatened that he would meet the same fate as Pearl.
NDTV, however, alleged that the abuser was identified as Devendra, a former employee of Central Industrial Security Force.
In a surprising turn of events, Devendra called up NDTV later in the day and apologised for the abusive comments that he had posted on Ravish Kumar’s Facebook post. However, he did not apologise for the threats against Kumar.
Similarly, Abhishek Tiwari, who identifies himself as the head of Bajrang Dal’s student unit in Jaunpur, reportedly threatened to shoot and kill Kumar. In order to provide confirmation that he indeed belonged to Bajrang Dal, he also sent a letter pad proving the same.
Later, Tiwari also sent a video in which he threatened to chase Kumar to Pakistan and kill him. “I WARN RAVISH IF YOU DEFAME SANATAN DHARM, I WILL KILL YOU. I will chase you to Pakistan and kill you. This is a warning from Bajrang Dal”, Tiwari said in the video.
At a panel discussion held by the news organisation recently, Kumar said that trolls used “very foul language and are very daring… There is no doubt in the fact that this organised. These are not anonymous trolls. They seem to have positions. They know that their activity can be legally proven. They send videos, but they are not scared. This has never happened before.”
“Last time the police did nothing. The police was receptive this time and they said they will do a security assessment. But that is not my concern. This is not merely about my security. This is a by product of a political culture. This not an individual’s issue. They have left neither females nor males. They all have funding, ammunitions, weapons.”Ravish Kumar
Kumar is the second journalist in recent times to receive death threats and abuse in the wake of fake news about them, specially fake quotes attributed to them. Just recently, journalist Rana Ayyub had hate spewed at her after a fake quote attributed to her went viral on social media.
Ayyub received death threats and abusive phone calls and after morphed pornographic photos of her started doing the rounds, she started receiving phone calls and messages soliciting sexual favours from her.
“Clearly these are not trolls, this is a syndicate which is working over time because the trolls do not have my number. This is a lynch mob”, Ayyub said.
The United Nations human rights experts on 24 May, released a statement calling Indian government to “urgently protect” Ayyub, stating that the government was responsible to initiate a prompt and thorough investigation.
Governments also have a responsibility to build a safe environment for independent voices, including those of journalists critical of the authorities. We have previously urged the authorities in India to take active steps to reverse a political climate that, in recent years, has become increasingly polarised and hostile, especially to the media and those exercising the freedom of expression.UN Statement