Civil Servant Files Complaint Against Zee Hindustan for Pushing Communal Agenda

New Delhi: A video of some alleged RJD supporters chanting anti-India slogans went viral on social media after BJP’s loss in Araria by-poll election. The men celebrating RJD MP Sarfaraz Alam’s victory can be seen chanting ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge‘ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad‘.

As expected, the video was picked up by news channels hoping to avoid discussion on BJP’s loss in the elections and to perpetuate the ‘Hindus are under threat in non-BJP states’ narrative.

The authenticity of the video has been questioned by politicians and family members of the men shown in the video. The police, too, advised the media against speculating till proper investigation is conducted.

The family members claim that the slogans were either in the background or were superimposed. The video submitted as proof by the families shows the three men shouting, “Katno kariyo baap baap, lalten chhaap (However hard opponents try, the RJD will win)”, reported Indian Express.

While the news channels did not attempt to authenticate the video, an investigation by AltNews.in raises a lot of questions.

On March 16, Zee Hindustan, a Hindi news channel run by the Zee Group, aired a discussion titled ‘जीता Musalman…अब Araria आतंकिस्तान?‘ (After Muslim’s win, will Araria turn into a terror nation?). While the news anchor at multiple times during the discussion says that the channel hasn’t been able to authenticate the video, but she doesn’t let that stop her or the panelists from making wild assumptions.

Wondering how the news channel reached the ‘terror nation’ conclusion, which was used as a tagline?

“Araria is not just a bordering area, connected to Nepal and Bengal… (It is moving) to a hardline ideology, which is not just dangerous for Bihar, but for the whole country. It will become a hub of terrorism,” Union minister Giriraj Singh had said even before the video went viral.

Ashish Joshi, who is a former nodal officer of Sachar Committee & Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme for Welfare of Minorities, filed a complaint against the news channel with News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) after receiving a screenshot of the video from a friend.

NBSA is the self-regulatory complaints redressal body of the News Broadcasters Association which represents private television news channels.

“I was aghast to see the blatant communal caption of the programme. It was also negation of what the Constitution of India stands for. There was clear prima facie case if violation of IPC sections,” he told The Wire.

“It is an extremely dangerous trend as media plays a very important role in dissemination of news & information of people. It is warping the minds of the people & is having an adverse impact on the Indian society. There have been so many cases of aggression & assault on minorities,” he added.

Ashish Joshi-NBSA mails by The Wire on Scribd

Upset with NBSA’s lax response to his complaint, Joshi said, “It is sad to see law enforcing agencies & institutions like NBSA & National Commission of Minorities (NCM) playing a passive role in taking action against violators. As the former Nodal officer of Sachar Committee & PM’s 15 Point Programme for Welfare of Minorities, I feel sad to see negation of all the efforts we made. In any country, the faith and confidence of the minorities in the functioning of the state in an impartial manner is an acid test of its being a just state.”

When contacted by NewsLaundry, Zee Group’s Prasanna Raghav claimed that the channel has not violated NBSA guidelines and threatened to “file a defamation suit against the media watchdog”.

“All channels under ZMCL are responsible news channels and there is no violation of NBSA guidelines in the said news report as alleged. The said news report was telecast on the basis of video which was available on social media. Moreover, the police have also registered an FIR in the captioned matter and comments from officer concerned also taken. The said video has been sent to FSL by the Bihar Police. This is also to clarify that in case any defamatory story on distorted or wrong facts, if carried by Newslaundry, ZMCL shall be constrained to initiate appropriate legal action against Newslaundry,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the Zee Group has gotten into trouble for pushing communal agenda. NBSA had directed Zee News to apologise to Urdu poet Gauhar Raza after they labeled him ‘anti-national’. The channel selectively broadcasted visuals of Raza reciting poetry at 51st Annual Shankar Shad Mushaira in a program called Afzal premi gang ka mushaira’.