30, Oct 2020 | CJP Team
On October 28, 2020, the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) informed Zee News channel, via an official email, to be present for a hearing on November 26, 2020, to look into allegations of running a communal programme titled “DNA: Jammu म ज़मीन के ‘इ लामीकरण‘ का DNA टे ट (DNA test of Islamic conversion of land in Jammu).
The email through which the response was received by CJP said, “NBSA was of the prima facie view that the programme was not in consonance with the Fundamental Principles of the Code of Ethics No 6 which states that “Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news as the same is the fundamental responsibility of each news channel”; Also the Guidelines on Broadcast of Potentially Defamatory Content No 5 which states that “ a news anchor/journalist/presenter should not make any derogatory, derisive or judgmental statements as part of reporting or commentating” and also the Specific Guideline Covering Reportage relating to Racial & Religious Harmony, at Clause 9 states that “Racial and religious stereotyping should be avoided” and “ Caution should be exercised in reporting content which denigrates or is likely to offend the sensitivities of any racial or religious group or that may create religious intolerance or disharmony” were violated.
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The NBSA also noted that, “The broadcast had also violated the fundamental principles of Code of Ethics such as impartiality, objectivity, neutrality & fairness in reporting.”
The email also states that “NBSA decided to call the broadcaster and the complainants for a hearing at the next meeting of the NBSA. You are accordingly requested to appear for a hearing on 26.11.2020 through video conference, the time and link for which will be sent a day before the hearing.”
CJP had originally complained to the broadcaster directly on March 24, 2020 saying that when in a country which is walking a tight rope when it comes to its communal issues, such cooked up concepts and types of Jihad displayed is an attempt to create and propagate Islamophobia among the masses. In the program, the host, Mr. Sudhir Chaudhary, showed his viewers a Jihad diagram propagating various types of Jihad in the country categorising them as soft jihad and hard jihad. Mr. Chaudhary was also encouraging people to tweet using #ZameenJihad a deeply communal hash tag, a brazenly provocative move that can also incite hate.
On April 17, 2020 the broadcaster rebuted all claims made in CJP’s complaint and said that they have falsely alleged Zee News to have run a programme that incites communal hatred. They claimed that they have neither breached any of the guidelines of NBSA nor committed any offence, much less offences under Section 153A, 295A, 298 and 505 of India Penal Code as mentioned in CJP’s complaint. “They have strictly adhered to the laid down principles of neutrality, impartiality and fairness in their telecast of the aforesaid news report,” claimed Zee News about their team. They also added that “they are not against any particular religion and their report relates only to those group of extremists and/or terrorists, who, in the garb of jihad and Ghazwa-e-Hind, have been trying to convert India into an Islamic Nation. Needless to state that the such extremists and/or terrorists have no religion and as a responsible media, they have all right to expose them in the “interest of our nation.”
CJP then filed a rejoinder to Zee News on May 8, 2020 asserting that there has been a misrepresentation of facts by the broadcaster and that their point of argument and their allegations shows their malicious intention of creating a communal divide by pitching one religion against the other. CJP further submits that the host of the show in the beginning itself puts forth the concept of “Zameen Jihad” or ‘Land jihad’ by comparing it to ‘Love Jihad’ in the aforementioned programme. This term, ‘love jihad’, is increasingly used in sections of the news media is one replete with a track of an anti-minority mindset and to intentionally demonise a particular religion.
It is also noteworthy that another activist, Saket Gokhale, had also moved the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) against the show and the MIB then directed the complaint to NBSA on June 25, 2020.
Decision of the NBSA
The NBSA’s email on October 28, 2020, states, “NBSA considered the complaint, response and the rejoinder by the complainant and also viewed the broadcast. NBSA was also of the prima facie view that the “tone and tenor of the programme was divisive and that the broadcast certainly was targeting a particular community which is against the secular ethos of our country.”
NBSA also noted that in the programme, the anchor presented different kinds of “Jihad” practiced in India through a diagrammatic representation which aimed at further increasing the hatred /alienation of the Muslim community and targeting the said community specifically.
The entire text of NBSA’s email directing Zee News to be present for the November 26, 2020 hearing, may be read here:
*Feature Image courtesy Newslaundry