ABC Ram Temple - agenda coverage

It shows either incompetence of adjudicator in adjudicating on the ABC Ram temple coverage complaints or their submission to someone’s Anti-India, Anti-Hindu agenda

The ABC’s coverage of the Ram Temple ceremony in Ayodhya, particularly the ABC TV’s Ram Temple coverage broadcast on January 22 by reporter Avani Dias was seen by many Hindus as deliberately inaccurate and biased.

We all have heard an image is worth a thousand words. Clearly a 2 plus minute long video is worth a lot more.

Thus, it had to be   at least factually accurate.

But many felt it was produced, as if to deliberately offend Australian Hindus, where the ABC by covering Ram Temple the way it did, was showing its ‘might’.

ABC Ram Temple stories online took similar liberties with facts. 274 Australian Hindus complained to the ABC.  

The matter was investigated and the ABC Ombudsman, Fiona Cameron who produced a report which, in short, says there was nothing wrong with the ABC coverage and there has been no breach of the ABC’s editorial standards.

But there is a problem.

In the Analysis section in the second para, the report says:

 ABC News acknowledged that in the Hindu tradition, the Babri Mosque was built by Muslim invaders on the ruins of a temple where the Hindu god Ram was born, a fact that was made clear in some of the reports that were broadcast and published, but which was excluded in one version of the report seen by many of the complainants.

It is a clear, written admission of wrong-doing or inaccuracy.

Despite that admission, in a courageous move, the Ombudsman says as below:

Ombudsman’s Finding

The program did not breach the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy.


For the reasons set out above, the Ombudsman finds that the reports did not breach the Corporation’s editorial standards for accuracy.

The Ombudsman notes the one version of the report, that did not include reference to the fact that in the Hindu tradition, a Hindu temple stood on the site a thousand years ago and it is the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram, could have benefitted from that broader context. One version of that report that is published on ABC News Online is accompanied by a written story that does include that context. As the absence of that information was not materially misleading to the audience, we are satisfied it is not a breach of the editorial standards.

There is the second admission in writing above.

But the conclusion still is that the ABC’s coverage committed no breaches of its editorial standards for accuracy.

By adopting the untenable position, the Ombudsman says the missing information in the video story can be found in a written article which can be found by visiting ABC online.

It cannot get more ridiculous than that, especially by someone whose role is to adjudicate the complaints judiciously.

The ‘anti-Hindu’ video/TV story broadcast on January 22 is cleverly worded to paint the new temple as some illegal structure over the mosque. Reporter Avani Dias in her video says:

“Its construction has been contentious, the temple stands on the site of a 16th century mosque, torn down by Hindu mobs in 1992.

“In 2019 India’s highest court ruled the mosque demolition was illegal, but still granted the site to Hindus.”

The report makes no mention of the fact that the Supreme Court of India had found the mosque stood over a Hindu temple, a fact which was not only material but fundamental to the issue and subject of decades of litigation and final adjudication in 2019 in the Supreme Court of India. (See the ASI findings accepted by the apex court on Pages: 905 Line 6-22 to 906 Line 1-11)

Further the concluding paragraph 170 on page 116 of the Addenda to the main 926-pages long Supreme Court judgement, clearly states that the “faith and belief” of Hindus that the site is birthplace of Lord Ram and was a religious temple structure before the Mosque was built over it “is proved by documentary and oral evidence”.

This deliberate omission by Avani Dias tilts her story to suggest the complete opposite, as if the Muslims in India have been wronged by even the highest court of the country.

The clear assertion by Avani Dias that despite declaring the demolition “illegal”, the Supreme court of India granted the site to Hindus, not only materially but fundamentally changed the facts in issue and the findings of the court conveyed by her story.

The ABC defence
The report offers this lame explanation for this bit of Avani Dias’s report

We further note how the Indian Supreme Court judgement on the matter determined the mosque was illegally demolished, but awarded the site to Hindus in an acknowledgment that there was a “faith and belief” among Hindus that it was the site of Ram’s birth.

Firstly, Avani did not mention the acknowledgement by the Supreme Court of Hindus’ “faith and belief”.

Secondly, the Ombudsman’s report also, in an act of complete refusal to do justice to the complainants, refuses to acknowledge that the Supreme Court had also found that the “faith and belief” of Hindus “was proved by documentary and oral evidence”. (See reference to para 170 on page 116 of the Addenda above.)

How can the Ombudsman say that “the absence of that information was not materially misleading to the audience”and make a finding of ‘no breach’?

2000 deaths claim – DEBUNKED

Avani Dias in her report claimed 2000 Muslims died in the riots following the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.

“The demolition of the Babri Majid Mosque sparked nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims.

“2000 people died mostly minority Muslims.”

It can be verified that this claim of 2000 Muslim deaths in Hindu-Muslim riots following 1992 demolition is false, misleading, exaggeration of facts and untenable by the ABC’s editorial standards.

All reputable publications at the time, including the New York Times and the Washington Post reported the number of deaths to be 200.

As shown in the screengrab of a Google search, The Washington Post reported deaths of only 200 following the demolition of Babri Masjid. One can see the date stamp of 8 December 1992. (Link: )

Further down, the search also lists 8 December 1992 the New York Times reporting deaths of 200 following the 1992 demolition of the mosque. (Link:

Only the Wikipedia online claims the number of dead in riots following the 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid to be 2000.

The ABC Ombudsman’s report says this of the 2000 deaths claim:

We are satisfied the reporter’s statement that 2000 people died and most were minority Muslims is in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy. We observe how it has been reported by a broad range of the world’s most reputable media organisations, ever since that event, that the majority of deaths were Muslims.

The question for the ABC management to ponder over is – Is the Wikipedia online resource more reputable than the Washington Post and the New York Times?

The report also sneakily adds the words “ever since that event”.

Is this an attempt to cover deaths in Hindu-Muslim skirmishes unrelated to Babri Masjid demolition?

Only the Ombudsman knows.

Is Modi changing a secular India into a Hindu nation?

Suggesting the religious ceremony’s potential proximity to the 2024 elections only a couple of weeks away and Modi trying to cash in on that, Avani Dias’s 22 January TV story finished with the punchline:

“Cementing what many say is his plan to transform the country from a secular democracy into a Hindu nation”.

The Ombudsman defended it saying:

ABC News has identified a range of information that supports the claim, such as the enactment of Hindu nationalist policies, including the Citizenship Act of December 2019 that provided easier routes to citizenship for every religion other than Muslims in India, and which the United Nations said was fundamentally discriminatory.

The defence does not stack up
It simply shows complete lack of knowledge, research and analysis and understanding of what India did in December 2019 for two reasons:

Firstly, the report writer did not know that the Act is called the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019. It was brought in to amend the Indian citizenship laws to fast-track citizenship for – Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsi minorities facing persecution in Muslim majority Islamic countries being Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Muslims do not fall within the definition of being a minority facing persecution for being Muslims in a Muslim country and as such did not make the list of minorities for the amendment of 2019.

The laws in relation to access to India’s citizenship under other circumstances remains unchanged for all, including Muslims, even today.

Secondly, it shows how ABC does not read beyond headlines. The UN article the Ombudsman’s report refers to does not conclude what the ABC Ombudsman has sought to establish. Rather it acknowledges India, in December 2019, the same month the CAA was passed, joined the international community in endorsing the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, which commits countries to ensure that all measures governing migration are based in human rights. 

It further acknowledges the legal framework of India was looking into the new law (the amendments to citizenship laws) to ensure India met its human and international obligations.

If Narendra Modi was anti-Muslim, 7 Muslim countries – Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Maldives, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, would not have decorated him with their highest civilian honours.

Not sure if ABC is aware of this fact.

The Ombudsman’s report also lists three articles (with links as below) as its source material to validate ABC’s content.

What Is the Future of Hindu Nationalism in India?The Diplomat

Dissent Is ‘Anti-National’ in Modi’s India | Human Rights Watch (

And The Guardian story (which has since been removed) on Hindus and RSS.

Sadly, those articles, even if stretched to the breaking point, do not help the Ombudsman, the narration in the story and thus the ABC.

On the contrary, the TV coverage on 22 January of Pran Pratishtha at Ram temple at Ayodhya with its anti-Hindu headline and the large picture playhead thumbnail saying “Sectarian Temple”, with the size and projection it has, along with a blatantly inaccurate caption “Narendra Modi opens controversial Hindu temple on site of destroyed mosque”, just like the Ombudsman has quoted the above three articles, will become an independent source and resource for all anti-Hindu and anti-India viewers, columnists, academics and leaders.

Also read: After 500 years, Ram Lalla arrives at Ayodhya

The Ombudsman’s decision not to remove or correct the TV story broadcast on 22 January is not only beyond reason and commonsense but is also blatantly unfair to Australian Hindus.

One wrong with one right – new accuracy standards of the ABC
The ABC Ombudsman’s attempt to cover the ABC’s breach by saying that “one version of that report that is published on ABC News Online is accompanied by a written story that does include that context”, is impractical and unprofessional to even suggest as basis for the decision.

Why should the ABC not correct/remove the story covering Ram Temple at Ayodhya which has excluded a material fact?

Clearly the Ombudsman cannot compel anyone watching the “Sectarian Temple” story, to read of the other online story which includes the missing material information.

Thus, the reason given to leave the offending ABC Ram Temple story unchanged is unacceptable.

And now to the ABC’s editorial policy, accuracy and correction and clarification principles.

ABC editorial policy
ABC’s editorial policy says, “The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is accurate according to the recognised standards of objective journalism. Credibility depends heavily on factual accuracy.”

It also says, “The ABC requires that reasonable efforts must be made to ensure accuracy in all fact-based content.

“The accuracy standard requires that opinions be conveyed accurately, in the sense that quotes should be accurate and any editing should not distort the meaning of the opinion expressed.”

Accuracy Standards

2.1 Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context.

2.2 Do not present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. In some cases, this may require appropriate labels or other explanatory information.

As one can see, the 22 January report on Ram Temple by Avani Dias fails on both these given standards.  

Corrections and Clarifications

ABC’s editorial policy on corrections and clarifications lists the following standards ABC journalists must adhere to:

3.1 Acknowledge and correct or clarify, in an appropriate manner as soon as reasonably practicable:

a   significant material errors that are readily apparent or have been demonstrated; or

b   information that is likely to significantly and materially mislead.

ABC carries a commitment to accuracy, which in their own words, “includes a willingness to correct errors and clarify ambiguous or otherwise misleading information. Swift correction can reduce harmful reliance on inaccurate information, especially given content can be quickly, widely and permanently disseminated. Corrections and clarifications can contribute to achieving fairness and impartiality.”

It follows from the above, the Ombudsman in preparing the report, has flouted the ABC’s editorial policy commitments and standards on accuracy, correction and clarification, to find no breaches of editorial standards have occurred.

I suggest the admittedly inaccurate TV story by Avani Dias on 22 January should be immediately corrected/removed and the Ombudsman’s February 13 Report accordingly amended.

The ABC should also unconditionally apologize to Australian Hindus.

As is, the report is a slap on the face of Australian Hindus who felt completely let down by the inaccurate and biased or ‘botched’ reports of the event by the ABC.

The Preamble to the ABC’s editorial policy guidelines says:

“The ABC belongs to the Australian people.

“Earning and retaining their trust is essential to fulfilling the ABC’s charter and its responsibilities under the ABC Act…”.

My question to the ABC Managing Director David Anderson and Ombudsman Fiona Cameron is – Do you not include Australian Hindus in Australian people?

If you do, why this unjust and injudicious treatment?

The ABC coverage of Ram Temple smacks of a studied agenda to trample upon peace-loving law abiding Hindus and their religious beliefs and values.

Similar Posts by The Author: