Zee News has been caught peddling fake news once again. On Thursday, the national news channel reviled for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic was called out by the Arunachal Pradesh Information and Public Relations Department (Arunachal DIPR) for publishing false news that the state had 11 positive cases of COVID-19 and linked them to the Tablighi Jamaat.
“There are 11 positive cases of coronavirus in Arunachal Pradesh which have connections with the Delhi’s Tablighi Jamaat,” read the false news report broadcast by the channel.
The next day, on Thursday, April 10, the Arunachal DIPR called Zee’s news report as false and clarified that the state had has got only 1 COVID-19 positive case till date.
This is to clarify that Arunachal Pradesh has got only 1 COVID-19 positive case till date.
The reporting by Zeenews is false and does not carry any authenticity. pic.twitter.com/d74hBGDWbd
— ARUNACHAL IPR (@ArunachalDIPR) April 9, 2020
“Fake news during this 21-day lockdown will only not only mislead people but also create panic and frustration among the masses. We already have seen so many fake audio messages going viral in social media after which people started boycotting some individuals,” Eastmojo quoted a government official as saying on condition of anonymity.
This isn’t the first time Zee News has been called out for spreading false information around the coronavirus outbreak and the Tablighi Jamaat. Earlier, the Firozabad police had refuted a channel’s report claiming that a medical team escorting coronavirus-positive members of the Tablighi Jamaat was pelted with stones in Uttar Pradesh.
“You are spreading false and misleading news when neither a medical team nor any ambulance has been pelted with stones in Firozabad district,” the Firozabad police tweeted to Zee News from their official handle. “Delete your tweet immediately,” it had said.
Ever since Delhi’s Markaz Nizamuddin emerged as a coronavirus hotbed after numerous people who attended a Tablighi Jamaat meet in mid-March tested positive for the viral infection, there has been a swathe of fake and malicious news published against the Jamaat and the Muslim community in general.