14, Oct 2020 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has approached the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) with a complaint against Best Hindi News, a news channel that has used its social media platforms to share highly inflammatory videos that not only spread misinformation and ignite hate against the victim and her family, but also promote caste supremacy.
The CJP complaint dated October 14, 2020 brings to the MEITY’s notice that Best Hindi News used multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to spread misinformation around the Hathras incident. Their Facebook page is sharing anti victim narratives purportedly aimed to derail the dispensation of justice.
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The Complaint states that the Best Hindi News had shared on social media videos of one Deepak Sharma who claims to be the founder of Rashtriya Swabhiman Dal (RSD), an organisation that aims to protect the interests of Hindu dharma and the nation. We, at CJP have already compiled a 4-minute-long video on Deepak illustrating his hysterical abusive content on social media where he demands the beheading of non-believers and supports another occurrence of Godhra. CJP has left no stone unturned in the endeavour to hold Deepak Sharma liable for his hate speech in the past and has complained to the National Humans Right Commission (NHRC) to take cognisance of his actions and to ban him permanently from Facebook for spewing hate.
The complaint to MEITY further states that Best Hindi News presents Deepak Sharma as a “Samaj Sevi” (social worker) and have been propagating anti Dalit narratives through his videos. The video shows him accusing the mother and brother of the deceased woman for her death. He further claims that the four men named by the victim have been wrongfully arrested. On Facebook, Best Hindi News is also trying to justify the forced cremation of the young Dalit girl, claiming it had to be done to maintain public order in Uttar Pradesh. In an article shared by Best Hindi news on October 6, 2020 they stood by the decision of the Uttar Pradesh Police to cremate the body of the victim without the family’s consent and asserted that if the cremation had not been done in the middle of the night, political vultures would have played dirty politics and instigated riots through agencies like Popular Front of India, a Kerala based Muslim organisation.
The CJP complaint also takes into account the recent Allahabad Court order on October 12, 2020 where Justices Rajan Roy and Pankaj Mithal, in the matter Suo-Moto In Re : Right To Decent & Dignified Last Rites/Cremation Vs. State Of U.P. Thru Addl. Chief Secretary, have already directed the media and political parties to act in a manner that promotes social harmony and does not violate the rights of the Hathras victim’s family. The court has also recognised that cremating her without the family’s consent to avoid lawlessness was a gross violation of the victim and her family’s human rights. Posting such content online disrupts peace and causes confusion in people’s minds. It is for the courts to give a verdict and not print/electronic media, states CJP.
The complaint lists down the violation of several sections of the Information Technology Act, Indian Penal Code and norms of Journalistic Code by allowing such profiles to run and receive viewership online. It highlights the various offences of promoting enmity, causing disharmony, outraging religious feelings, spreading unverified claims which have been mentioned in detail in the complaint. CJP has prayed that the Ministry take cognisance of the gross misuse of digital platforms in spreading misinformation that leads to speculation amongst the masses and affects the victim’s family that is fighting tooth and nail for justice.
The complaint may be read here: