How Indian tabloids misreported Meesha Shafi’s case

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Hashtag Meesha Shafi has been trending on Twitter once again. Meesha Shafi has been in the news for quite some time now and been making headlines for being the earliest proponent of the #MeToo movement in Pakistan.

It all started when the singer accused her colleague, Ali Zafar a singing icon himself, of sexual harassment. The allegations did not sit well with many people as Zafar has a massive fan following in his home country and people blamed Meesha for falsely alleging Zafar.

As the case progressed, Meesha was charged by The Federal Investigation Agency on criminal defamation grounds. However, FIA is only an investigation agency and does not have the standing to hold anyone guilty or innocent. The Supreme Court has not given a ruling either.

Despite this little progress in the case, The Times of India and IBTTimes reported that a court in Pakistan has sentenced Meesha to three years in prison. It was strange that no Pakistani media outlet reported the update yet Indian newspapers published it as a news highlight. So where did it come from? It turns out that the source of the news was Wall Street Journal, a reputed international newspaper. The Wall Street Journal on March 12, 2020 reported ‘Pakistani Singer Faces Prosecution for Accusing Pop Star of Groping Her’ which served as a baseline for Indian propaganda. The Indian tabloids copy-pasted the headline and with a few tweaks here and there to avoid plagiarism published it with the headline saying “Pakistani singer who accused the pop star of groping her and sparked country’s #MeToo movement faces three years in jail for ‘criminal defamation. Now, the difference between the two is imminent.

Meesha took to her social media accounts to deny the circulating news. Meesha’s lawyer also refuted any such progression in the case.

Nevertheless, the state of the affairs uncovers the propaganda and yellow journalism that Indian tabloids indulge in. The unauthentic reporting exploited by The Times of India and IBTTimes has really scarred their credibility.

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