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The Hindu Caught ‘Forging’ the Rafale Document

defense analyst

When The Hindu, some days back had presented a false narrative claiming that the Defence Ministry protested against PMO undermining Rafale negotiations, we had factually busted the report in our article titled A Cropped Picture to Paint a False Picture on Rafale. Many other journalists and defense experts have also debunked the above quoted report of The Hindu. Defense analyst Abhjit Iyer-Mitra was prominent among them. He has factually rebutted the other articles of The Hindu which ran a series of misleading reports on Rafale.

On February 18, The Hindu took pot-shots at Mr Mitra through its Readers’ Editor column, where it has argued that the image that it had published was not doctored as some have claimed. Again, Mr. Mitra has responded it with series of tweets comparing the original document with one that The Hindu had cropped. The gist of Mr. Mitra’s argument provides enough evidence to show that the document published by The Hindu has been fudged at many levels.

This infographic below provides the broader picture for the issue.

What did The Hindu do?

The Hindu in a news article had presented a cropped image of an internal note of the defence ministry, in a way to create a false impression that there was a conflict of opinion between the MoD and the PMO wherein the former had told the latter not to carry out ‘parallel negotiations’ on Rafale.

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra has further exposed the newspaper. Going a step further, Mr Mitra establishes that The Hindu has not only manipulated the document but even forged the document.

  • While The Hindu showed MoD noting, it didn’t show the reply from the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
  • It only produced the dissenting note of the Defence Secretary.
  • However, a complete ANI note reveals that Defence Secretary’s reservations had come on 1st December 2015 to which the Defence Minister had responded on 11th January 2016 itself.
  • At the same time, The Hindu has selectively shown the Defence Secretary’s noting but left out the date on which it was written.
  • Then if The Hindu had produced both the Secretary’s date of noting, and Parrikar’s response, it would have explained the sequence of events thereby informing the reader that the issue had already been sorted out.
  • Then the Defence Secretary’s signature was removed from the bottom because the same portion also had the designation of the Defence Minister who had given comments on 11th January 2016 itself, a fact that The Hindu wanted to hide from the general public.
  • The Hindu not only cropped the bottom out, but also the side date stamps in order to hide the fact that all the discussions including the Defence Minister’s response had taken place before 20th January 2016.
  • Mr Mitra has gone on to say that The Hindu by cutting out the side portions and thereby leaving out the relevant dates has gone to the extent of fudging the document and not merely manipulating

Mr Mitra has clearly pointed out the ‘two croppings and 1 airbrushing’ by The Hindu. Therefore, in the mind of the reader, it can’t be a coincidence. It must otherwise be a deliberate and wilful attempt at misleading the general public on a subject as sensitive as national security.