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New Delhi: On April 15, 2022, Suresh Chavhanke, editor of the far-right Sudarshan TV claimed that Muslims are involved in a criminal conspiracy that he described as “job jihad”.
“Job jihad” – like the other recent phrases derived by suffixing “jihad” to various words – is the bogey of a conspiracy by Muslims to secure jobs and jeopardise Hindus’ sources of livelihood.
Chavhanke had latched onto controversy that broke out on social media a week earlier when a list showing 10 candidates – all of them Muslims from Jamia Millia Islamia University – who were selected for apprenticeship by Pawan Hans Limited was widely circulated on social media. Allegations were made that Hindus are being denied jobs by the government enterprise.
Chavhanke said that Muslims were benefitting from a “100% undeclared reservation at Pawan Hans.”
— Sagar Kumar “Sudarshan News” (@KumaarSaagar) April 15, 2022
Ragini Tiwari, who led a Hindutva mob at Maujpur and was caught on video pelting stones during the Delhi riots, led protests at the Pawan Hans office in New Delhi.
“Can a government company only give employment to Muslims? Is there 100% reservation for Muslims at Pawan Hans?” Suresh Chavhanke asked in the teaser of the ‘Job Jihad’ show.
In the later visuals, Tiwari and others, whom Chavhanke described as ‘shernis’ or ‘tigresses’, can be seen climbing the gate of the Pawan Hans office..
At the gate, Tiwari and others can be seen making derogatory comments against Muslims and Jamia.
“Paisa Shri Ram ka aur fayda Chuslam ka (The money comes from Hindus and the jobs are for Muslims),” Tiwari is heard saying.
पवन हंस के मुख्यालय पर हिंदुओं का प्रदर्शन लगातार जारी। मुसलमानों को 100% अघोषित आरक्षण देने से विवादों में घिरी है सरकारी कंपनी। @PawanHansLtd @JM_Scindia @Gen_VKSingh #BindasBol 8pm Live pic.twitter.com/1nTeiV7Q0w
— Suresh Chavhanke “Sudarshan News” (@SureshChavhanke) April 16, 2022
Another man in her live video is heard saying, “Why give employment to terrorists of Jamia who oppose Modi and Yogi? We will make sure that Muslim are thrown out and Hindus get a job.”
The Wire investigated the claim by Sudarshan and the Hindutva protestors and found it to be false.
Jamia Millia Islamia started the Bachelor of Science in aeronautics course in partnership with Pawan Hans Limited. The course is offered to 60 students in two batches – Avionics and Mechanical – of 30 each. This is, notably, a self-financed course with annual fees of Rs 1.3 lakhs, out of which only 30% goes to the University and the rest to Pawan Hans, according to official document accessed by The Wire.
— Sudarshan News (@SudarshanNewsTV) April 15, 2022
Eventual selection criteria is based on the aggregate of the total marks of a candidate in six semesters and the number of DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) modules cleared by the candidate. This year a total of 30 students were selected for an interview, a candidate informed The Wire.
Out of these 30 students, four – two Muslims and two Hindus – dropped out for personal reasons, The Wire learnt. Out of the remaining 26, a total of 10 candidates, five from each branch were selected. Later, a Muslim student who cleared the interview also opted out for personal reasons.
The Wire reached out to one of the two Hindu candidates from the Avionics branch who had dropped out for their comment on the controversy. “My friend Deepit Goyal and I were amongst the toppers of our batch. We opted out because of personal reasons. I am preparing for competitive exams. The selection process was completely transparent and based on merit. Being a minority institution, naturally there are more Muslim students at the University. As a Hindu student at Jamia, I have not faced any discrimination and all my friends are Muslims,” Shubh Solanki, one of the candidates who opted out, told The Wire.
‘Selection pattern unclear’
The Wire reached out to another candidate, Ansh Agarwal, who said that while he had a problem with the manner of selection, it was far from a communal question.
“My problem as a student is with the criteria of selection. I want to know the weightage given to various selection parameters and if students from the branches were selected differently,” said Ansh, a student of the Mechanical division.
“Generally, more preference is given to modules than marks but because of COVID, we insisted that weightage be given to CGPA as well. There is 33% reservation for women but we don’t know if both branches – Avionics and Mechanical – have been clubbed or not [for this reservation]. So, the selection pattern is unclear. Due to this, students, both Muslims and Hindus, who have done well either in terms of modules or CGPA have suffered. I don’t have a basis to call it communal and I am not trying to sensationalise it like news channels, I just want to know what went wrong for those who were not selected,” added Ansh.
Another student told The Wire that because this was a practical course, more emphasis was laid on the number of modules cleared by a particular student.
Another person, requesting anonymity, told The Wire that by now a total of 38 candidates have been selected by Pawan Hans and only 13 of them are Muslim. The Wire consolidated a list of all the selected candidates and could confirm this.
“How can this selection be unfair when the whole panel was composed of non-Muslims and the criteria was based on merit? The controversy will only attack the employability of other candidates, both Muslim and non-Muslim, from the university,” a candidate said.
The Wire found that Pawan Hans has a similar partnership with Mumbai University. This year, a total of 15 candidates were selected from there as well and only three of them are Muslim.
On April 16, 2022, Chavhanke hosted the show on “job jihad” which he had teased on April 15. In it, he made several accusations against Jamia without citing any evidence. A panelist expressed “worry” that Muslims getting into aviation is “dangerous” for India. “Jamia is an organisation not an institution. It’s infamous for the wrong reasons…We still don’t know what happened to our CDS [General] Bipin Rawat; the investigation is going on,” he said, in what was a transparent and pointed attempt at anti-Muslim dog whistling.
Attacking Muslim livelihoods
This is not the first time that either Suresh Chavhanke or Ragini Tiwari have created controversy around employment opportunities.
In March 2020, Chavhanke led a protest at India Gate calling for the “economic boycott of rioters” in which, along with Tiwari and Vinod Sharma, a key accused in the Jantar Mantar hate speech case, he described Muslims as “untrustworthy” and called upon Hindus to boycott businesses dominated by Muslims.
“If you want to stop them from slitting your throat, then you have to stop donating your money to their ‘green chadar’ now,” Chavhanke said on his channel, when he had organised the protests in the first week of March.
In June 2021, The Wire covered violence and boycott campaigns against fruit vendors in West Delhi.
Sudarshan News, often accused of broadcasting hate against Muslims, reported the Uttam Nagar protest in an extremely inflammatory manner. Throughout the show, Sudarshan reporter Sagar Kumar and anchor Shubham Tripathi referred to Muslims as “jihadis” and used other derogatory terms.
“For the first time Hindus have come out so aggressively with lathis in Uttam Nagar against jihadis,” Shubham said.
“Today, Hanuman Chalisa will be recited at Uttam Nagar and calls to boycott jihadis will be made. Sudarshan News has been advocating the economic boycott of jihadis for a long time,” added Sagar Kumar.
Abhay Pratap, a columnist for Sudarshan News, wrote: “We have even received information that most of these Muslim vendors are Rohingya who have committed violence in the past.”
— Sudarshan News (@SudarshanNewsTV) February 6, 2022
Chavhanke also ran a series targeting Muslims called ‘UPSC Jihad’ accusing Muslims of covertly taking over the Indian bureaucracy. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court in the case, the Union Information and Broadcast ministry had said it had warned Sudarshan News to be cautious in future.
However, Sudarshan seems to have overlooked the suggestion by the Union ministry.
More recently, Sudarshan reporter Shivani Thakur who joined Ragini Tiwari to take on Pawan Hans over ‘job jihad’ had gone viral after heckling a Haldiram employee for hurting Hindu sentiments through the use of “Urdu lettering” on its packets. In reality, the packet carried both Arabic and English in compliance with international export norms.
Chavhanke is also facing hate speech cases in connection with his controversial call to turn India into a Hindu nation. The exact translation of the oath he administered to a hall of people in New Delhi was, “We all, take this oath, give our word, resolve that until our life’s last breath, we, will remain prepared to fight, to die, if necessary, to kill for the sake of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in this country; and to make sure that it persists and that it expands in the future.”