07, Oct 2020 | Addeti Singh
Deepak Sharma, claims to be the founder of Rashtriya Swabhiman Dal (RSD), an organisation that aims to protect the interests of Hindu dharma and the nation.
He is a popular face in the right-wing social media circuits and is based in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh according to the Police but maintains that he hails from Jaipur to mislead the police and public. Now he has found support for his propaganda in Best Hindi News, a channel that has been promoting his controversial videos ‘exposing the truth’ about the Hathras tragedy.
Hate campaign against the Hathras atrocity
Best Hindi News Channel has been constantly propagating anti Dalit sentiments, showing its support of upper caste supremacy through Deepak Sharma’s videos across social media platforms that also present him as Samajhsevi (social worker) Deepak Sharma. “At the best hindi news portal india category will provide news of india related to politics, crime, health, religion, sports, entertainment, festivals, culture, technology, mobile and gadgets, internet and social media, hollywood, movies, actor, actress, terrorism, lifestyles, education, election results, employment, agriculture, relationship etc”, the portal Best Hindi News.com claims. The website has a not unsubstantial social media presence with 10,000 subscribers on Youtube, 2,28,979 fans on Facebook and 712 followers on Twitter. One Dharmendra Pratap Singh, is the Chief Editor of Best Hindi news according to his Facebook profile and Desi Media Sach Khabar, Faridabad, Haryana.
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Dharmendra has shared multiple stories on Hathras on Facebook ranging from people’s anger on social media on the alleged one side reporting, supporting the Uttar Pradesh Police for using lathi on activists and leaders reaching Hathras for ‘drama’ to asserting that the Hathras incident was not a caste-based violence, but just a means to malign the Yogi Government via funding to media house. His Best Hindi news page has also shared a couple of videos uploaded by Deepak to spread the same biased information.
On September 30, 2020 he shared a video stating that some people are using the death of the Dalit girl for “TRP’s” and making it a political issue. He also extended his support to Yogi Adityanath for directing the investigation and called for strict action against people who were trying to make this an issue of caste-based violence. The caption of this video said “Sabhi Sathi, Hathras ke iss sach ko zyada se zyada share kare” (All fellows Share this truth of Hathras as much as possible). “Dalit ki beti ke naam par, media mein khabre uchali jaati hai, SC/ST act ke tehat ladki ke parivaar ko saare 4 lakh rupaye de di jaati hai phir ladki ke parivaar ko bataya jaata hai ki agar aapne rape ka mukadma darj karaya toh aur paise diye jaaenge. Ladki agle dinn phir bayan deti hai, dabao banaya jaata hai, camera muh mein thoos thoos ke poocha jaata hai rape hua than na (x3)? Haan ji hua tha, medical jaanch, post mortem aur forensic report mein rape nahi hoti lekin patrakaar cheekh rahe hai ki rape hua hai.” (On the pretext of being a Dalit man’s daughter, scripted stories are circulated in the media, the family gets 4.5 lakh compensation money under the ST/SC Act, then the family is told that if a rape charge is used, more money can be extracted. The next day the girl gives her statement again, pressure is built up, camera is shoved into the family’s mouth and they are asked if it was rape [thrice]. Yes, it was, despite the medical, post mortem and forensic report suggesting that it was not rape, news reporters claim that it was rape).
This statement was made by Sharma in a Facebook video that was uploaded on October 2, 2020 at 6 PM insinuating that the Hathras incident was nothing but a concocted story by some media houses to malign upper caste men. He also questioned the laxity of the deceased victim’s family since they did not perform the last rites of their daughter sooner as she breathed her last early morning on September 29, 2020. “Jo poochte hai log ki raat mein kyun jala diya gaya tha, toh bhai kya karte? Usme keede pad jaane dete? Kya yeh hindu dharm hai ki laash mein keede pad jaane do rajneeti ke liye?”, he asked his followers and friends on Facebook. (The people who ask why her body was burnt at night, what else could be done? Can we leave the body for insects to breed? Is that what Hindu dharm says, to let insects breed on a corpse for politics?) This video received 1,500 likes and was subsequently shared by 2,400 netizens.
On October 3, 2020 Deepak Sharma interviewed an Omkar Singh, from Bulgadhi village of Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh. Omkar Singh alleged that the deceased was killed by the mother and her brother instead of Sandip Singh (one of the four accused). He claimed that the men weren’t in Hathras at the moment and he is willing to be hanged for the 4 boys. Sandip has a strong alibi as he was with his father quenching the thirst of his cows, Omkar claimed.
Deepak also interviewed a Munni Ji on October 4, 2020 who claimed to be on the same field cutting grass. She alleged that the victim did reveal that she was strangulated by one Sandip but there is no clarity on which Sandip as the victim’s brother goes by the same name and happened to be present at the field when the assault took place. On October 5, 2020 Deepak Sharma has uploaded a video on Facebook saying that he stands by the truth and the rest should be left for the CBI to investigate with a plethora of supporters in the background. “Humare Police ko kisne suspend karwaya? Media ne (in chorus), humare bachche jail kisne bhejwaye? Media ne (in chorus), Aaj Tak ne, ABP news ne (in chorus x3)” (Who got our Police officials suspended? The media, who sent our children to jail? The media- Aaj Tak and ABP news!).
Deepak Sharma’s past conduct
In 2017, he became a social media sensation after uploading an abusive video of him assaulting a defenceless young boy for creating “objectionable meme” content making fun of his God and Goddesses. The self-proclaimed guardian of Hindu religion gave an interview to ANI and said, “My name is Deepak Sharma and I am from Rashtriya Swabhiman Dal. In the video, I had already mentioned the heading as “A Film”. I do not have to explain here what a film means. If you watch that video clearly, then you will come to know that it was filmed to show that if you post such demeaning things on the internet, then it hurts the sentiments of the society and in turn, you will have to face the consequences.” In May, 2017 his organisation RSD was willing to offer a lumpsum amount of Rs.51,000 to anybody willing to pull out Imam Nuroom Rehman Barkati’s beard.
Clad in a saffron kurta in his cover picture, this meme vigilante enjoys 3,678 followers and has approximately 2,000 friends on Facebook.
In 2018, CJP compiled a 4-minute-long video on Deepak illustrating his hysterical abusive content on social media. In September, 2018 he protested to rename Akbar Road in Lutyens, Delhi to Atal Bihari Vajpayee Road. InUth reported that upon being asked about his demand to change the name, he said that Vajpayee had written several poems against the Mughals, without an iota of knowledge about Vajpayee’s work and career. “There are two types of history, one is positive and other is negative. Mughals represent everything that is negative and we have to remove all symbols of Mughals from our history“, he told InUth. A report by Hindustan Times confirmed that in October 2018, Deepak Sharma visited the Sharda University campus to instigate Indian students against Afghan students. According to Indian Express, on Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate B.N Singh’s orders FIRs were registered against Deepak and one Ved Nagar, a gau rakshak, for promoting enmity and insulting a group’s religion.
Deepak Sharma has been involved in a litany of bizarre activities including visiting the Taj Mahal to perform a pooja (detained later) and calling for removal of a Mohammad Ali Jinnah portrait from Aligarh Muslim University in 2018. He has also uninhibitedly supported statements like, “If a priest or maulvi comes to me for religious conversion then I will file an SC/ST case against them” by other Facebook users and it added that “If I am removed from the temple and insulted in front of Muslims then they will also be stuck inside.” He shared the post, agreeing with its content.
Social media platforms have been largely capitalised to spread disinformation by hate activists like Deepak Sharma. He lashed out at Mamata Banerjee two days before the last phase of West Bengal General elections in 2019 accusing her of providing refuge to Bangladeshi terrorists according to a Sabrangindia report of June 12 last year. “Aisa kya hai Bangal mein jo Jai Shri Ram bolne par aapatti hai.” (What is so unique in Bengal that we cannot chant Jai Shri Ram?), he questioned. His offensive Facebook live shenanigans also claimed that “40 saal ke CPM communist ke shaashan ne aur pichle 15 saal ke mamta ke shashan ne, Baghdidi ke shashan ne iss bangal ko Syria banane ki puri koshish ki h” (In the 40 years of CPM and 10 years of TMC, the government has tried their level best to convert Bengal into Syria).
In 2019, CJP had complained to the National Human Rights Commission and Facebook which ultimately got him banned from the latter. But apart from his own Facebook profile, he runs another page Bhagva Hind with 30,030 followers sharing pictures of Prime Minister Modi, Yogi Adityanath, Sudhir Chaudhary, Arnab Goswami, etc. In his videos, he also called to behead non-believers and wished for one more Godhra like incident.
Sudarshan News under the SC Radar: An example of spewing hate venom
In the recent past, hate speech is being packaged in the form of News and getting distributed across the country promoting disharmony amongst different religious groups and communities.
Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes hate speech, statements and certain acts that have the effect of disturbing public tranquillity or law and order by promoting enmity, creating fear or alarm between classes of people on the basis of difference in religion, caste, language or place of birth. It states that, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquillity, organizes any exercise, movement, drill or other similar activity intending that the participants in such activity shall use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, or participates in such activity intending to use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community and such activity for any reason whatsoever causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst members of such religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
In September, 2020 the Supreme Court through its 3 Judge Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph made strong remarks against the tone and tenor of the show, a teaser of which was released on August 27 and had resulted in outrage on social media, The Wire reported. The Bench was hearing a petition filed by advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan to stop the telecast of the controversial programme that is part of a series called ‘Bindas Bol’, hosted by the channels’ Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke. The promo released in August 2020 claimed that Muslim candidates, in a conspiracy against the nation, had ‘infiltrated’ (ghuspaith) into the civil services in ‘large numbers with very high marks’, labelling it ‘UPSC jihad’ or ‘bureaucracy jihad’, said The FirstPost.
The Supreme Court restrained Sudarshan News TV from telecasting the remaining episodes of its ‘Bindas Bol’ programme which promised to unfurl a ‘UPSC Jihad’ conspiracy. “Any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with great disfavour by this court which is a custodian of constitutional rights,” LiveLaw reported quoting the 3 judge Bench headed by Justice Chandrachud. Justice Joseph remarked that, “When we talk about journalistic freedom, it is not absolute. He shares the same freedom as like other citizens. There is no separate freedom for journalists like in the US. We need journalists who are fair in their debates.”
These statements come at a significant time where there is an attempt by certain channels to hinder the process of fair trial and due process by corrupting the minds of their viewers. The role of news channels via television and digital platforms should be to transmit objective and impartial citizen centric news and not selective information on their discretion.