The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed the airing of a show- Bindas Bol on Sudarshan TV News which was scheduled to be telecast at 8:00 pm on the same day. In the trailer of the show, news anchor Suresh Chavhanke who is also the Chief Editor of the channel can be seen claiming that there is a conspiracy behind the ‘infiltration’ of Muslims in the Civil Services.
Chavhanke had posted this trailer on Twitter with the caption- “Beware! Revelation of the conspiracy behind the infiltration of Muslims in the bureaucracy” and had used the hashtag - UPSC Jihad. Interestingly Chavhanke had also tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ideological parent of BJP, RSS in this tweet. In the trailer, Suresh Chavhanke can also be seen saying, “What is the reason behind Muslims excelling in the country’s most difficult exam? Do you want jihadis of Jamia to hold district level officers’ posts?”
Activists and netizens soon started calling out the bigotry, hate speech, and fear mongering which was being spread in the name of news. Students of Jamia Millia Islamia filed a petition claiming that Chavhanke has openly engaged in hate speech and defamation against the students of the university and Muslims in general. During the hearing, the centre mentioned that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also received several complaints regarding the same. Delhi HC issued notices to the Centre, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters Association, and Sudarshan News.
The news channel was called out and the bigotry was condemned by bodies such as the IPS association and the Indian Police Foundation on Thursday and by the IRS association on Saturday. The Indian Police Foundation tweeted, “The hate story carried on a Noida TV channel against minority candidates joining IAS/ IPS is dangerous bigotry. We refrain from retweeting it because it is pure venom. We hope News Broadcasting Standards Authority, UP Police, and concerned government authorities take strict action”
IPS Association also condemned the news story and called it a “communal and irresponsible piece of journalism”. The IRS Association on Saturday retweeted the tweet by the IPS Association and said, “We stand firmly with other Civil Service Associations and strongly condemn the attempt to target Civil Servants on the basis of their religion, and casting aspersions on the sanctity of Constitutional values and institutions such as the UPSC.”
Many right wingers came out in support of Suresh Chavhanke citing freedom of expression and freedom of press to defend his show. Nupur Sharma who is the editor of Op-India, a digital platform often alleged for furthering the right wing propaganda came out in support of Chavhanke. Chavhanke boasted on Twitter about his tweet not being pulled down by twitter even after being reported by lots of users as Twitter did not find the post violating guidelines.
While the debates and outrage about whether the Delhi High Court’s move can be seen as an attempt to curb the freedom of expression of the channel can go on but having a platform to further hate speech and bigotry and the editor of the channel having the audacity to tag the prime minister in his tweet indicates towards a trend of organized and institutionalized bigotry.