CJP calls out Times Now host’s bias towards BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma Original transcript of the debate show will reveal if viral video clipping is edited

01, Jun 2022 | CJP Team

Alarmed at how a seasoned journalist allowed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma to make a series of vile and Islamophobic comments on air, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has written to Times Now about their News Hour debate show titled ‘The Gyanvapi Files’. The show that aired on May 26, 2022, appeared to be one-sided and partisan, thus violating the basic principles of journalism and those laid down by the esteemed News Broadcasting Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA).

The host Navika Kumar seemed biased towards Sharma and did not attempt to intervene even when Sharma made remarks about Prophet Mohammed. The narrative of the show appears to suggest that it intended to spread hatred, stigmatise and demean the Muslim community on national television, on a channel that is accessible and within the reach of a large number of people and has a huge societal influence.

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On the show, the BJP spokesperson said, “They (Muslims) should be told to shut up and stop insulting our (Hindu) religion. Otherwise, we are also capable of hitting them where it hurts. They may call it a fountain as much as they want, but the reality is that even the Supreme Court ordered immediate protection of the area…” She then went on to make even more comments targeting Muslims asking, “Claims made in the Quran about your flying horses… that the earth is flat …should I make fun of it?” But the shocker was when she alleged that Prophet Mohammed, revered by all Muslims, married and defiled a child.

CJP has highlighted in its complaint that no attempt was made by the host Navika Kumar to stop or restrict Nupur Sharma from making such hateful and even hurtful comments, all so she could outshout another speaker. The complaint states that the Times Now Channel clearly allowed this kind of extremely inflammatory statements to run their course and do immeasurable damage before removing this video altogether.

The complaint also highlights the hypocritical behaviour of the Times Now debate show host Navika Kumar who takes the stand that the structure in Gyanvapi mosque cannot be called a fountain if it cannot be called a “Shivling”, while she herself has been addressing the structure in question as a “Shivling” throughout the show. In fact, even the hashtag displayed on the telecast had the word “Shivling” in it: #ShivlingDamagedClaim.

Additionally, the complaint brings to light how the host did not raise any objection whatsoever when BJP Spokesperson Nupur Sharma repeatedly addressed the structure as a “Shivling” but makes it a point to side with her and prohibit other panelists from addressing it as a fountain.

She says, “All I want to say is that if this country is to be run by the Constitution and the rule of law then clearly if it is not identified and called a ‘Shivling’ then it cannot be called a ‘Fountain’ as well and defining any property that may have any links with any religion or faith, is that acceptable in this society? That is the question we are asking on this News Hour tonight.”

It is noteworthy that the mosque authorities say that the stone structure being called a “Shivling” by lawyers of the petitioners in the ongoing case that is being heard before a district court, is just a part of an old defunct fountain. Moreover, no competent authority has authenticated the structure as a “Shivling”, in fact two Mahants of the Kashi temple have debunked the “Shivling” theory. But this has had no effect on either right-wing extremists or channels like Times Now, where the bias of the anchor was evident during the debate.

With respect to the allegations made by Times Now that the chunk of the video was selectively taken out by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair to give it an ‘out-of-context’ narrative of her views, CJP expressed its opinion that she shouldn’t have made such inflammatory statement hurting the religious sentiments of the Muslim minority in any context whatsoever, and the anchor of the show, Navika Kumar should have openly condemned her for making such remarks on a national television.

The complaint brings to light how Times Now took down the complete video from its platform soon after Nupur Sharma alleged that the part of the recording widely shared on social media was heavily edited instead of proving the veracity of such claims. In order to absolve itself from any liability, the channel then take a U-turn on its earlier stand and claim that the views expressed by BJP Spokesperson on the show are not endorsed by Times Now and urged the participants to maintain restrain and thereby refrain from indulging in unparliamentary language against fellow panelists.

What the complaint stressed upon is that it is not just the participants who have to maintain restraint with respect to the language used against fellow panelists, but it is also the duty of the host/anchor representing the channel to monitor the debate and call out the participants for using such foul language.

The complaint brings to the channel’s attention the violations of the provisions of NBSA principles, guidelines and the violations of the provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Relying on various judicial precedents against hate speech, CJP has warned the channel that in case their response is not satisfactory, then they shall be approaching the News Broadcasting Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) to undertake further action.

A copy of the complaint may be viewed here:

 

Image Courtesy: jantakareporter.com

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