Tuesday, May 28, 2024

News18 India found guilty of targeting Muslims on prime time shows, broadcast regulator imposes fine

The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority on Monday passed orders against four shows hosted by right wing news anchor Aman Chopra of the Hindi news channel News18 India for hate speeches he had made about Muslims.

Anti-Muslim campaign during UP polls

“By starting the debate on the premise that 20% people were ganging up against Hindus constituting 80%, the anchor had given the debate a thrust, which is communal in nature and not appropriate,” read the order by the news regulatory body.

The controversial debate was hosted by Chopra on January 18 last year during UP poll campaign.

The programme had violated the fundamental principles of impartiality, objectivity and neutrality that are necessary during reporting, said NBDSA chairperson Justice (retired) AK Sikri said.

Anuj Dubey who submitted that Chopra deliberately made statements that maligned the Muslim community, was the complainant.

The news regulatory body. imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the broadcaster and asked it to remove the videos of the show from its website and YouTube.

Praising anti-Muslim violence

Chopra while debating about the public flogging of Muslim men by Gujarat Police in Gujarat’s Kheda district on October 4, celebrated the flogging of the men by describing it as “police ki dandiya” – a reference to a traditional Gujarati dance form in which sticks are used as a prop.

The police action was widely condemned rights groups across world.

The complainant, Indrajeet Ghorpade, stated that the broadcaster had repeatedly shown visuals glorifying the “police violence”.

The NBDSA said in its order that the channel had “targeted, vilified and castigated the entire Muslim community for the actions of a few miscreants.”

The body imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the channel in this case and advised the broadcaster to avoid giving a “communal colour” while reporting on such cases. It also directed videos of the show to be removed from the channel’s website and YouTube.

Inciting anti-Muslim violence

Another order was against a show that Aman Chopra hosted on July 28 on the murder of BJP youth wing leader Praveen Nettaru in Bellare village of Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka.

The complainant said that from July 19 to 28, two Muslims and one BJP leader were killed in Dakshina Kannada but Chopra choose to highlight only BJP leader’s case.

“During the programme, the anchor conducted a media trial and came to such conclusion despite the viability of the notion that a killing of a Muslim man in a hotbed off communal polarisation could have also inspired the death,” read the complaint.

The NBDSA said it found that Chopra’s “agenda was clear” as he blamed one religion for the murders instead of a few miscreants.

Against Muslim population

A debate by Chopra titled “Ghazwa-e-Hind” that was aired on August 5, used the hashtag “BorderParPanIslam” and showed visuals of Muslims in busy neighborhoods.

It was about reports sent to the Union home ministry by the police on the sharp rise in the Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh as well as in districts bordering Bangladesh and Nepal.

“In the impugned broadcast Muslims and Islam were misrepresented as a threat to our national security to instil panic in the minds of viewers,” read the complaint. “In an effort to support the CAA [Citizenship Amendment Ac] and NRC [National Register of Citizens], rhetorical attempts were made to show Muslims in bad light and breed hatred towards them,” it added.

The NBDSA imposed a penalty of Rs 20,000 on the broadcaster and asked Chopra to not make communal statements while covering issues of national importance.

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