By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,
Patna: Within hours of TwoCircles.net exposing the lie of the Gujarat government of Narendra Modi in the one-page ‘Muslims shining’ ad appeared in Patna dailies on June 10, the issue has become a big news, bigger than the BJP National Executive meet that is going on here in Bihar’s capital. All major newspapers and TV channels are highlighting the story.
The ad claiming shining life of Muslims in Gujarat had a picture of Muslim girls learning computer. Interestingly the picture was not from Gujarat. The lie was exposed by TCN as the picture was shot by this TCN correspondent during his November 2008 visit to Azamgarh. The picture was first time used by this website on November 24, 2008 in the Azamgarh story titled “Muslim girls in Azamgarh getting higher education, giving tough fight to boys”. The picture was of girl students of Shibli National College. They were working on computer in the computer department of the college. So, to claim progress of Muslims in Gujarat the Modi government had to take a photo from Azamgarh. Yes, the Azamgarh town of Uttar Pradesh that has been in the news for terrorism. The same government of Modi has made accused scores of youths from the town in various terror cases.
The Times of India today in its story titled “Modi ad passes off UP Muslims as Gujaratis” says “There is a controversy brewing over one of the pictures used in these full-page advertisements issued in Bihar dailies to project a Muslim-friendly image of chief minister Narendra Modi in Bihar before his visit to Patna for attending BJP national executive meeting. Without naming, the paper says TCN has claimed for the copyright of the picture.
“A news website has claimed the copyright of the picture of young girls working on computers saying that it was of Muslim students in Azamgarh in UP and not Gujarat. The website claims that it was clicked by their photographer in UP for use with a story titled, “Muslim girls in Azamgarh getting higher education, giving tough fight to boys.” The website has put up a large picture, which it claims to be the original one and is identical to the one used in the ad. What’s more, the website has embedded a link of the earlier story published on November 24, 2008, to substantiate its claim.
“As the ad is about Muslims’ progress in Gujarat one can expect the pictures are also from the state… Neither the girls are Gujarati, nor was the picture shot in Gujarat. In fact, it is a picture of Azamgarh’s Shibli College girls attending a computer class in the college campus…,” says the website,’ the paper says.
Indian Express has also done a follow-up of TCN story on the ad.
In today’s issue, Indian Express in its story titled “In Modi government ad, Azamgarh girls become Gujarat’s new Muslim face US portal plans to sue Gujarat govt” says: “The advertisements showcased a photograph of Muslim girls in burqas working on computers, to buttress the point that Gujarat Muslims are faring much better than those elsewhere. But in reality, the girls belonged to a college in Azamgarh in UP; they had nothing to do with Gujarat.”
“The photograph was apparently taken from a US-based news portal run by Indian Muslims. The portal, www.twocircles.net, informed The Indian Express on Friday that it is now considering pressing charges of copyright violation against the Gujarat government. In addition, the Shibli College in Azamgarh, has also lambasted the Gujarat government for misusing a photograph of its students.”
“US-based Kashif ul Huda, Executive Editor of the portal said, “There are two issues here, one of fooling the people by using a picture taken outside Gujarat, and secondly, of copyright violation. It is ironical that they could not get even the required photo from Gujarat for the advertisement. He added that the photograph was used earlier by the University of Cambridge for its course material with due permission.”
The paper has also quoted Salman Sultan, Head of the college’s Computer Department condemning the act of Modi government: “This is a heinous act. They are rubbing salt on the humiliated and psychologically wounded Muslim community,” he said.
The CNN-IBN TV channel on its portal ibnlive.in.com says: It is now learnt that the girls featuring in it study in a school in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district and not Gujarat. The picture was taken without permission from a US-based website, twocircles.net, run by Indian Muslims.
“We are utterly shocked that this photograph is so daringly and shamelessly being claimed to be of Gujarat and is being used for image-building purposes,” say the owners of the website where the pictures were first published. The channel also said Twocircles.net is now planning to sue the Gujarat government for copyright violation.
“The Shibli National Girls School in Azamgarh, where those girls study, has lambasted the government for misusing the picture of its students. “The publication of these pictures without permission goes to show that Muslims are not taken seriously,” Dr Iftekhar Ahmad, the Principal, tells CNN-IBN. Dr Ahmad says he will explore legal options after consulting the school management.”
Roznama Rashtriya Sahara in its front page news lambasted the Modi government on the ad issue.
The Patna edition of the daily in the byline story of Punani Anand says people of a particular ideology were describing Azamgarh as hub of terror, the same people now are claiming the town’s progress as their own. The paper says the photo was from Azamgarh Shibli College and taken by TwoCircles.net.
However, Gujarat government officials have reportedly said the ad may be to highlight the progress of Gujarat Muslims, but it did not say the photograph in it was of Gujarat Muslim girls. The government had not asked its advertising agency to put that photograph, the agency did that on its own, they said.
Meanwhile, a new ad from Gujarat government today showing Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar shaking hands has spoiled the BJP party here. Nitish has reportedly cancelled the dinner program he was to host tomorrow for Modi and other BJP leaders besides all BJP national executive members.