Indian media has come under fierce criticism for its coverage of Nepal’s deadly earthquake, with thousands of Nepalis taking to social media to criticise perceived patriotic and sensationalist reporting by journalists covering the aftermath.
The hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia was trending for a third day in Nepal on Wednesday, along with stories accusing Indian TV channels of serving the interests of the Indian government.
Posts on Twitter and Facebook claimed some reporters were falsifying reports to make the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi look better, rather than focusing on the disaster.
— JK (@JaskiratSB) May 6, 2015
Siddharth Varadarajan, a former editor at The Hindu newspaper and a founding member of The Wire, told Al Jazeera that some reporting clearly indicated a bias in favour of the Indian government.
“Many of those reporting were defence reporters embedded with the military,” Varadarajan said.
“Sadly a section of them did portray the delivery of aid and rescue efforts as a victory for Modi and his government,
— SuchanA (@artless77) May 3, 2015
“Press coverage, however, has been far more restrained and nuanced than TV coverage of the tragedy,” Varadarajan added.
Indian journalists are also accused of intruding on grieving families, asking inappropriate questions.
A reporter was accused of asking how a surviving mother felt after hearing her only son was buried under a house.
An indian news reporter to a mother who's learnt her only son has been buried under their house.
Q. How do you feel?#GoHomeIndianMedia
— Prasanna KC (@KC_Prasanna) May 3, 2015
India’s former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor said news channels which are covering the disaster from Nepal, are “embarrassing and dismaying India”.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) May 3, 2015
Gyanu Adhikari, a Nepali journalist, told Al Jazeera that the campaign was triggered by a perception that Indian news networks were acting as PR arm for Indian relief teams.
“Indian news channels were acting as if relief teams were saving the country,” Adhikari said.
“The news channels were sensationalising the tragedy and contributing to the fear of more earthquakes, fostering paranoia.”
India has sent dozens of military aircraft and helicopters to help relief efforts, and has led the search-and-rescue efforts with more than 700 personnel on the ground.
Nepal’s government has given out around 50,000 tarpaulins, according to UN figures, but desperately needs more tents, with just weeks until the monsoon rains are due.
According to the Nepal Emergency Operation Centre, the April 26 earthquake killed more 7,600 people and injured another 16,390 across the country.
Follow Faisal Edroos on Twitter: @FaisalEdroos