Vishwa Deepak, an output producer with Zee News has resigned from the TV channel because of its “biased coverage” of the JNU protests. Deepak was part of the team that produced a Zee News show on the night of February 9, when alleged anti-India slogans were raised in the JNU campus.
It was this news footage that formed the basis of the Delhi police’s suo motu FIR on the incident, after which JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for sedition.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deepak said Zee News aired footage of students chanting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ repeatedly, but it did not have any such slogans in it. “We heard inaudible slogans from the grainy video. Editors at Zee News felt this sounded like ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and that’s the caption we went with,” he added.
The media watch website the Hoot, carried a piece on Sunday with the headline "How Zee TV fuelled state action against JNU students". An excerpt from their write-up.
The short point is that the police were present when the groups were clashing and shouting slogans, they stayed on the campus until the two sides dispersed, they saw no reason to register any complaint on the basis of the slogan shouting they heard. It is the Zee video which gave them actionable evidence. The implication is that Zee did their recording by being there in time for the action, did it at length, and showed the ‘anti-national’ parts the next day. How did the police come to know of the programme shown? It does not say. Did the channel bring it to their notice?
Here is an excerpt of Vishwa Deepak's resignation which he has also posted on his Facebook wall.
(Translated from Hindi)
- The way JNU students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was framed in the name of "nationalism" and proved to be a "traitor" after a media trial, is an extremely dangerous trend.
- As journalists, it is our responsibility to question those in power, not move step-in-step with the powerful.
- I am also a citizen of the country in whose name the poison of blind “nationalism” is being spread and the country being pushed towards a state of civil war. My civic duty and professional responsibility is to stop this poison from spreading.
- Behind each news story is an agenda, behind every news show is an attempt to glorify the Modi government, and behind every debate is a bid to shoot down Modi’s opponents
- Why were we made to be so immoral, unethical, and despicable .... my journalistic capital has now been reduced to people calling me a “Chhee (yuck) news journalist”. Our integrity has been blown to bits. Who will take the responsibility for this?
- The biggest taint in anybody's life is: treason. But the question is, as journalists, what right do we have to certify anyone as a traitor? Isn’t this the domain of the courts?
- Along with Kanhaiya, we branded several students as "anti-nationals" in the eyes of the people. If anyone is murdered tomorrow, who will claim responsibility for it? We have not merely created a situation for someone’s murder or to destroy some families but we have created the conditions ripe for spreading riots and brought the country to the brink of a civil-war. What sort of patriotism is this? After all, what sort of journalism is this?
- People are threatening to rape Umar Khalid’s sister and throw acid on her. They're calling her the sister of a traitor. Think, if this does happen, would we not be responsible for it?
- Have we seriously looked at Kanhaiya’s home? His home is not a “home” but a painful symbol of the helplessness of this country’s farmers and common people. But we have become blind.
- Rama Naga and others are also in the same state. After struggling against poverty, these boys managed to get a subsidised education at JNU, and can look towards the future with confidence. But in our desire for higher TRPs, we have sold the truth and almost ruined their careers.
- It’s possible that we don’t agree with their politics or that their ideas are radical, but how did they become traitors? How can we do the the work of the courts? Is it just a coincidence that Delhi Police’s FIR has Zee News’ name in it? It's said that we are in a nexus with the Delhi Police. What answer can we give to the people?
Newslaundry got in touch with Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary. He said, “On a daily basis people leave and people are being recruited, it is a normal affair. When people leave, they write such nasty letters. This is the organisation’s internal matter.”
He added that his line is very clear on the events that occurred on February 9 at JNU. “I was there when the Parliament attack happened and I saw everything happening in front of my eyes. If people are going to say Afzal Guru should not be hanged, we will oppose it. Our channel only showed what was happening there, whatever we have shown is 100 percent authentic. How far will you push freedom of speech?”