While ABC Weekend Breakfast presenter Fauziah Ibrahim is in trouble after it was revealed that she kept a long list of Labor “trolls” on Twitter under offensive names, another has been called out for twisting facts and spreading fake news in India.
Avani Dias, a Sri Lankan Australian journalist, presently based in New Delhi as is ABC’s foreign correspondent is responsible for covering South Asian region.
After reports of Hollywood superstar Will Smith reaching India, Ms Dias tweeted that Sadhguru, founder of the Isha Foundation, “supports a law which doesn’t offer Muslim refugees citizenship in India.”
In her now deleted tweet, Ms Dias was referring to India’s Citizenship Amendment ACT (CAA) which amended the 64-year-old Indian Citizenship law.
Left cabal in India with the support of many foreign-funded journalists have tried to prove that this bill was anti-Muslim. While the Indian government has maintained that this bill was to secure the lives of members of six religious minority communities – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian – who face persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. With the help of this bill, members of these persecuted minorities will be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation after due process.
Ms Dias didn’t highlight this fact and in her enthusiasm to take down both Sadhguru and Will Smith ended up being advised to do more reading before she tweets.
Well-known scholar and professor at India’s prestigious institution Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Prof. Anand Ranganathan called out Ms Dias an “uninformed, bigoted, fake news peddler.”
Analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra informed Ms Dias that Muslim refugees have to go through normal process and ABC journalist should read the whole legislation.
Noted journalist and expert on India’s national security and strategic affairs, Aditya Raj Kaul pointed to Ms Dias’ “deliberate misinformation” regarding CAA.
In his answer, Aditya patiently pointed out that “CAA is specifically for minorities in Islamic Countries in India’s neighbourhood like Pakistan where they are facing HR violations, atrocities and subjugation since years.”
Many netizens have called out ABC for sending such ill-informed journalists as its foreign correspondent.
Australian researcher Sarah L. Gates called out Ms Dias for “gaslighting” an important issue.
In August 2021, ABC published guidelines for the personal use of social media by its staff as it paid almost $200,000 in personal legal costs for journalist Louise Milligan after she was sued by federal MP Andrew Laming over a series of tweets.
ABC’s policy makes clear that staff risk being losing their job if they compromise ABC’s independence or bring it into disrepute.