If there is a sedition case filed against the alleged anti-nationalism on display on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, it is because of Zee News more than Times Now. Arnab Goswami’s Newshour is getting too much credit for feeding the outrage over slogans shouted on the JNU campus. Zee News was off the block first, was even more single-minded than Times Now in demanding accountability if that is possible, and was strident in questioning the BJP, the Press Club and others as to why the police was not being brought into the picture. This channel’s answer to Goswami is Zee’s Rohit Sardana who converted his show called Taal Thok Ke into an inquisition against the campus protests and its leaders.
But first, Zee’s contribution to the first information report registered at the Vasant Kunj North police station.
Extract from FIR filed naming JNUSU President Kanhaiya Lal (sic) and others, dated 11-02-2016, in Police station Vasant Kunj North
Here is what the FIR says: At 7.30 pm on the evening of February 9 a call was received by the PCR to report that two groups had clashed near the Sabarmati Dhabha and the situation was deteriorating. A police team set out and found two groups approaching Ganga Dhabha and shouting slogans. The FIR says the local police and JNU security staff maintained distance between them, and media persons were also present. By about 8.30 the groups dispersed and went their way still shouting slogans.
On February 10 the police came to know that Zee TV had telecast a programme which showed that the students had been chanting anti-national slogans. The FIR says the police requested footage from Zee TV and a CD given to them showed them the kind of slogans which were being shouted, including Pakistan Zindabad. The slogans are further described and then an FIR registered on the basis of the offences recorded.
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?
FIR no 0110 at police station Vasant Kunj North was registered on the 11th of October. Two days after the event, even though a police team was present at the spot on the 9th night. Who brought pressure on them to register an FIR?
Reporter or anchor, from February 10 onwards the programming was heavily judgmental. On a Feb 10 Aaj Ka Special the slogan shouting is replayed and Pavan Nara of Zee News intones, how long should we tolerate this? An ABVP student activist gets time to have her full say on the anti national behavior of the slogan shouters.
On another programme the same day anchor Sudhir Chaudhury harangues viewers about the amount of money spent on JNU students by the government, and invokes the sacrifice of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He goes on to talk about the bill France has passed taking away the citizenship of those indulging in terrorism.
Chaudhury of Zee and Arnab Goswami of Times Now curiously have the same points of attack against the students, and both channels repeated these every day. That they are getting an education heavily subsidized by the tax payer, and this subsidy is feeding anti-national activities. And that at a time when Lance Naik Hanumathappa was fighting for his life here were these students making a mockery of his sacrifice by supporting those convicted for terrorism such as Afzal Guru.
Sardana and Zee anchor Sudhir Chaudhary between them conducted two to three shows on the JNU agitiation every day on the 10th, 11th and 13th that are archived on YouTube. The first conducted inquisitions, telling student leader Umar Khalid nastily at one point, when he asked a question, you are not here to ask me questions, you are here to answer my questions.
On the 10th Zee news was asking the Vice Chancellor of JNU whether he would take action against those who had shouted anti national slogans. On YouTube the programmes are billed thus:
MUST WATCH!! Anti India event organiser of JNU ripped apart by Zee News Anchor Rohit Sardana !!
On the 11th the channel was asking the Press Club of india president why he had allowed the premises of the club to be used for a meeting by SAR Geelani and not filed a written complaint against Geelani for the way the meeting went. The same day on an edition of Taal Thok Ke Sardana was upbraiding the BJP spokesperson on his show: Sambit Patra you kept saying desh drohi hai but your government did not take any suo moto action against these sloganeering students, why not?
He goes on to jibe, “The same day Lance Nayak Hanumanthappa dies the government that boasts of a 56 inch chest does nothing?” He gets so aggressive that he puts Sambit Patra on the defensive.
At one point JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar tells Sardana, ‘TRP ke liye pura desh ka mohol kharab kar rahein hai”. ( You are destroying the peace of the country for the sake of TRPs.) He is told to listen, while the slogans that have been telecast many times over on this channel are repeated for him to hear.
Zee TV’s programmes amounted to incitement against the students of JNU. On February 19 when Ravish Kumar of NDTV conducted a programme registering his objection to the way TV anchors were behaving, a long extract played without the visuals was from a harangue by Rohit Sardana, using the words desh drohi.
JNU shouts anti-nationalist slogans; nation questions intent.......... 10 Feb
DNA: JNU students clash over Afzal Guru row- Part II ...... 10 Feb
Taal Thok Ke Special : Panel discussion on JNU Row........... 13 Feb
Taal Thok Ke: Politics Over JNU Row - Part 4.... 15 Feb