Zee Hindustan Peddles 2015 News As Recent, Adds False Communal Angle

BOOM found that the false communal angle added by Zee Hindustan were from misleading viral messages.

Hindi news outlet Zee Hindustan peddled a 2014 incident about a UK eatery serving food contaminated with human faeces, which led to food poisoning in several of its customers, as recent. The website owned by Zee News group, passed off the story first published in 2015 by several British news outlets, and also added false communal claims including linking it to the Tablighi Jamaat.

BOOM found that some of the details mentioned in the Zee Hindustan story were from viral WhatsApp and Facebook forwards, which gave it a fake communal angle by falsely claiming that the restaurant owners served contaminated food only to non-Muslim customers. Messages reviving the 2015 news report had been viral on WhatsApp and Facebook over the past week.

The Zee Hindustan article added the false Tablighi Jamaat angle to the story by linking it to the recent spate of allegations against members of the missionary Islamic sect for purposefully spreading the virus, after several of its members contracted the coronavirus during an event in March.

The story published by Zee Hindustan on April 23 was titled, 'Human filth served with kebab, the same Jamati mentality abroad' (Original in Hindi - कबाब में परोसते थे शरीर की गंदगी, विदेश में भी वही जमाती मानसिकता). Zee Hindustan has since changed the headline.

The screenshot of the original story can be seen below and an archived version can be read here.

The Zee Hindustan story in Hindi mentions that a restaurant in Nottingham - was mixing human faeces with food, while serving it to non-Muslim customers. It also adds that there were two kitchens in the restaurant - one for Muslim customers, and another for non-Muslims. According to the Zee Hindustan story, only the non-Muslim customers were made to eat the contaminated food.

Throughout the story, there is no mention of when the incident took place, thus giving the impression that it is recent.

How A Viral Forward With False Details Became A News Story

A search for the incident led us to news stories from 2015 about Khyber Pass - a restaurant in Nottingham run by Mohammad Abdul Basit and Amjad Bhatti - which was fined in 2015 after an investigation by the city administration linked several cases of food poisoning in residents to the restaurant.

The administration found that in 2014, a year before the restaurant was fined, several of its customers, had taken ill. The customers were diagnosed with food poisinong from a recent outbreak of a rare strain of E. coli called - found only in human gut, which was found in many Nottingham residents suffering from food poisoning. More than 140 people were struck by the outbreak.

Paul Dales, from Nottingham City Council's food, health and safety team, told the BBC, "It's clear that hand-washing practices by some workers were wholly inadequate and this led to food becoming contaminated." BOOM went through multiple news reports about the incident by BBC, The Guardian, International Business Times and The Telegraph UK, among many others that reported the story in 2015.

The BBC article also mentioned that the same strain of E. coli found in the customers suffering from food poisoning was also detected in lettuce prepared by food workers at the takeaway.

We also looked through the Daily Mail story mentioned in the Zee Hindustan article which carried the same details as above.

But none of the stories had reported about a separate kitchen in the restaurant for Muslims and non-Muslims or alleged that the owners served contaminated food only to non-Muslims.

A search for the same led us to several Facebook posts which carried the same false claims about the incident. The forward also viral on WhatsApp did not mention that the incident is old and carried a link to the 2015 article by DailyMail, like the story by Zee Hindustan.

BOOM had received the same forward in Hindi, on our helpline number.

Facebook search results

BOOM reached out to the editor of Zee Hindustan but he refused to comment. Following our call, the website has made changes to the story without issuing a correction or apology.

The headline of the story has been changed to remove the mention of Tablighi Jamaat. The updated story was also missing the paragraphs which alleged that contaminated food was served only to non-Muslims, and that there were two separate kitchens for Muslim and non-Muslim customers.

The following graphic shows screenshots from the updated article and the original version with the changes.

While the Zee Hindustan story has been updated without a note, the story still mentions Tablighi Jamaat in the URL.

Updated On: 2020-04-25T17:36:23+05:30
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