The Wikipedia page of AatishTaseer,the author of TIME magazine’s article calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi“India’s divider-in-chief” was vandalised the day the story came out.
The article had created quite a buzz in the country evoking many reactions. Modi, widely known as quite a polarising figure, usually provokes strong reactions. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra lost no time penning a piece for The Indian Express, alleging bias on the part of the author for failing to list what the party claims are Modi’s ‘achievements’.
But questioning the points made in the article was one aspect.
The other part of the counter-attack was Modi fans attacking the author by trying to discredit him. They went after his profile on Wikipedia, vandalising it. And, then came the reactions based on the altered description of the writer.
“So this guysAatishTaseer works as PR manager for Indian National Congress. No doubt Time magzine has lost their credibilty and has become mouthpiece of Leftist.”
Fake news buster Alt News reported that this message was tweeted by a pro-Bharatiya Janata Party social media user called Chowkidar Shashank Singh (@pokershash), referring to the author of the recent article in Time magazine critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shashank Singh’s message had been retweeted over 500 times when Alt News reported this. He attached a screenshot of AatishTaseer’s Wikipedia entry.
Wikipedia allows users to edit pages and articles. The page on editing states, “Wikipedia is a wiki, meaning that anyone can edit any unprotected page and improve articles immediately for all readers. You do not need to register to do this. Anyone who has edited is known as a ‘Wikipedian’ (commonly referred to as, simply, editors) and, no matter how trivial the edit may seem, can be proud that they have helped make Wikipedia what it is.”
Alt News found that Taseer’s Wikipedia page was edited repeatedly on May 10, the day after his article was published. The first edit was made at 7:.9 am, when the phrase about Taseer being “the PR manger for the Congress” was added to the “Career” section of the page.
As a result of the “persistent disruptive editing” of Taseer’spage , it is now “protected”. This means that the contents of the page have been locked against further malicious alteration.
Taseer is a British-born journalist and writer. According to the Wikipedia description that accompanied Singh’s tweet, Taseer “is working as PR manger for Indian National Congress”. This was intended to destroy Taseer’s credibility as a neutral journalist.
AatishTaseer is the son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and late Pakistani politician and businessman SalmaanTaseer.
The TIME issue on Modi has two prominent articles. One is by columnist AatishTaseer, who asks, Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government.
Taseer’s article notes that “If in 2014 he (Modi) was able to exploit differences in order to create a climate of hope, in 2019 he is asking people to stave off their desperation by living for their differences alone.”
“Then he was a messiah, ushering in a future too bright to behold, one part Hindu renaissance, one part South Korea’s economic programme. Now he is merely a politician who has failed to deliver, seeking re-election. Whatever else might be said about the election, hope is off the menu,” he wrote.
Taseer concludes on an ominous note, “Modi’s India feels like a place where the existing order of things has passed away, without any credible new order having come into being. Modi has won—and may yet win again—but to what end?”
The other article by political scientist Ian Bremmer Modi Is India’s Best Hope for Economic Reform is far more conciliatory to the incumbent prime minister. While noting that Modi’s economic record has been mixed, Bremmer argues, “India still needs change, and Modi remains the person most likely to deliver.” He praises Modi’s work to improve infrastructure and initiatives such as the expansion of Aadhaar, Swachh Bharat and the UjjwalaYojna.