Lack of Evidence Turns Spotlight Back on Doctored JNU Videos

Reports say Delhi police likely to take the view that sedition charge against Kanhaiya Kumar will not hold.

New Delhi: With the draft chargesheet in the 2016 JNU case reportedly making the case that the charge of sedition cannot be sustained against former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, the spotlight is squarely back on the various videos of the controversial JNU incident which purportedly showed the former JNUSU president and others shouting slogans that the government had said were seditious.

Though the police said it finally did not take on the record various doctored videos that were circulated forensic investigation by Hyderabad-based Truth Labs had found last year that at least two of the seven video clips cited as evidence by BJP leaders against Kanhaiya Kumar and seven other Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students charged with sedition last year had been doctored. The forensic probe into the videos was ordered by the Delhi government.

According to recent news reports, the police has not been able to find any evidence against Kumar a year later, though they are continuing to investigate other students.

“In the manipulated clips, videos have been edited and voices were added. The main report, with a supplementary, has been submitted to the Delhi government,” The Hindu quoted an official as saying.

According to a March 2016 report in the Economic Times, one of the videos found to be doctored was shared on Twitter by Smriti Irani’s aide, Shilpi Tewari. Irani was human resource development minister at the time. The forensic report calls the video linked to Tewari ‘Q2’. “Discrepancies in the lip sync seen in the recordings Q1 and Q2 indicate that the audio stream is not a part of the originally recorded video and hence the conversations heard are not authentic and do not represent true speech by the speakers,” the newspaper quotes the report as saying.

“The recording Q2 was found to be associated with the user account ‘Shilpi Tewari’ in the social media www.twitter.com,” the report continues, before concluding that “the recordings Q1and Q2 are not authentic as the audio and video streams are from different sources, merged with an intention to make these recordings appear as representation of true events.”

In another video, the Economic Times had reported, Q5, has been flagged in the forensic report for not representing “a true and complete event”.

When contacted by the newspaper at the time, Tewari did not respond to any of its queries. Meanwhile, the HRD ministry distanced itself from her. “In her private capacity, she may be assisting the HRD minister but she is not on any official assignment. The ministry did offer her a position earlier but she never accepted the position/appointment offered,” HRD ministry spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel had told Economic Times.

In a tweet on Friday, Tiwari insisted the videos were authentic.

Tewari was in the news recently for something else as well. She tweeted a picture of Narendra Modi on Maha Shivratri complimenting the stole he was wearing.

A day later, Modi apparently sent Tewari the stole along with a signed letter.

Note: The story has been edited to include Shilpi Tiwari’s response and make explicit the fact that the Economic Times story on the Truth Labs is from March 2016.