New Delhi: Renowned filmmaker, actor, and author Sudhanva Deshpande on November 9 (Thursday) released a statement, condemning what he calls a “disinformation campaign” orchestrated by news channel Times Now.
The matter revolves around a lecture held at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) on November 6, where Deshpande was invited by Professor Sharmistha Saha to introduce the 2004 documentary film Arna’s Children, directed by Israeli Jewish filmmaker Juliano Mer Khamis.
As an introduction to the documentary, Deshpande was invited to give a lecture, which certain students believed was pro-Hamas and pro-violence. They further alleged glorification of “militant terrorists” during Deshpande’s introductory lecture.
A complaint has been filed against Professor Saha, questioning the appropriateness of extending the invitation.
According to Sabrang, Times Now ran a programme, titled “IITians Allege Prof. Saha for Inviting Filmmaker who Glorified Palestinian Terrorist”, on November 8, framing Deshpande and professor Saha as Hamas supporters and apologists.
The show opened with the following statement: “Mumbai: Hamas Backers get a Stage”. The host can be heard saying that “the heart of the Hamas backers continue to bleed, not for the innocents butchered by them but for the terrorists who picked up arms in the garb of freedom,” the report said.
The programme featured clips of Deshpande’s statements, selectively presented without context. Deshpande’s recount of his 2015 meeting with Zakaria Zubeidi, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the West Bank, was portrayed as endorsing violence and terrorism. However, the programme failed to provide a comprehensive understanding of Deshpande’s remarks.
A Times Now reporter participates in the show, asking some students to give details on “how the lecture was pro-Hamas and how two militants belonging to Hamas were glorified”
“The responding student states that while giving the introduction to the documentary being screened, Deshpande, to his shock, agreed to having met Zakaria and also called him a legend. According to him, this was a “deliberate attempt to influence the students of IIT-B”, Sabrang reported.
“The students go on to state that there should be checks and balances in premier institutes such as IIT-B. The responding student also accuses the dean, director, deputy director and other authorities of the institution of ignoring the emails sent by him regarding the aforementioned matter,” the report added.
The reporter interviewed another student standing there, who said he was not a part of the impugned lecture, but added that there should be zero tolerance for “anti-national” acts. He said he was “sad after hearing that such lectures were being given in the campus at the same time as the Vice President was speaking”.
The field reporter of Times Now, based on the statements of the two students, then deduced that the “students of the IIT-B are very much appalled by what happened in their campus and they were not expecting. It was supposed to be a movie screening before which, out of the blue, a lecture was given which is pro-Hamas.”