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Najeeb row: I am ashamed to have worked for TOI, says author of Jihadi Jane

With resentment against the alleged fake news reported by a leading newspaper the Times of India pouring in from everywhere, the author of a famous novel ‘Jihadi Jane’ has regretted working for TOI once, writes Faizul Haque.

Poet and novelist Tabish Khair, who had worked for the TOI almost two decades back, has expressed his disappointment over India’s leading national daily’s report that the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad since October 14, 2016 was “looking for information on the so-called Islamic State’s ideology, executions and network in the months preceding his disappearance.”

However, TOI reported later that the Delhi Police denied Najeeb report.

“Today, I am ashamed to have worked for TOI. This is propaganda, not news reportage, a piece like this should not have passed the editorial levels and appeared (on the front page) in print,” wrote Tabish Khair on his Facebook timeline.

He said: “It harms not only the person concerned but the cause of law, justice and trust in the nation.”

On March 21, 2017, TOI carried a report: “Missing JNU student saw IS videos” with full story on page three.

Delhi Police’s chief spokesperson Dependra Pathak, referring to the report, said: “We saw a report in the media claiming that Google and YouTube had indicated that Najeeb was listening to a speech by an IS member a day before he went missing and may be associated with the organisation. The police has not received any such report.”

When Newslaundry asked reported Jha if he had tried to cross-question his sources, he said, “I will not be able to talk about this at the moment.”

Tabish Khair is an Associate Professor in the department of English, University of Aarhus in Denmark. During his stint in the TOI a journalist, he had delivered a number of lectures and participated in a number of seminars in Jamia.

He was born and educated in Gaya, Bihar. There are over half a dozen books to his credit, including How to Fight Terror from the Missionary Position, The Bus Stopped, The New Xenophobia and An Angel in Pajamas. Jihadi Jane is his latest novel.

Meanwhile, online signature campaign has also been launched seeking an apology from the TOI for the fake news written by its reporter Raj Shekhar Jha.

The March 21 front page report had alleged that the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad was an ISIS sympathizer.

Several senior journalists, including Kajal Basu, have also criticized TOI and the reporter.

Following the report, Najeeb Ahmad’s family had addressed the media at Press Club of India where Mujeeb Ahmad said: “It has been six months now, but Delhi Police have not got any clue. If Delhi Police have given such information (Najeeb was searching for IS), it is because they did nothing despite a long time passed. They should suspend who has done this and if Delhi police have not done this, then they should take action against all those media including TOI.

“Once it is said Najeeb was searching for info about ISIS and later Police rejected this. Ask us, what we are facing. When I see rubbish comments on social media about my brother, I only know what I feel. They will realise this if same thing happened to them.”

“For the last six months the laptop and mobile of Najeeb are with the Police. If they (media) will defame us without any proof, we will take action.

“We are Muslims and now the mentality of people has become that Muslims are terrorists. And they accept it very easily,” he said.

“This is my humble request to the media to publish authentic story only; otherwise please don’t publish and tell the source of info about this specific story. We will certainly go to court against such media if they don’t tender apology and Police does not take any action,” said Mujeeb.

Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees said: “TOI is a prestigious and responsible newspaper. How can you do this? If TOI would do irresponsible reporting, what can we expect from others?

“Rather than help, media is giving us pain by saying Najeeb was linked to ISIS. We are Indians, ready to sacrifice ourselves for our nation, test us.”

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are of the author and OT is not responsible

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