A Zee News journalist’s resignation claiming that the channel’s footage did not actually show Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students shouting anti-India slogans could take apart the Delhi Police’s sedition case against the JNU Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and others.
Vishwa Deepak, an output producer with the channel, put in his resignation on February 19, almost 10 days after the incident, alleging that he was unhappy with the channel’s coverage of the case, the Delhi government and the controversy surrounding the intolerance row, among other issues.
In his letter, the journalist claimed that the channel added the blurb – Pakistan Zindabad – on the screen even though the words were not clearly audible in the video.
“There was no ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in the clipping, so how (and) why did we show that clipping repeatedly? We carried it to spread unrest and mayhem. How did we assume that the voices audible in the unclear, poorly lit video was that of JNU student Kanhaiya and his friends? Our biases made us hear Indian courts Zindabad as Pakistan Zindabad,” Deepak stated in his letter that he made public.
Hindustan Times was the first to report on February 18 that the case against the student appeared to be an after-thought: despite the area Station House Officer (SHO) and his men witnessing the protest, the police did not file any case against the students on February 9. The case investigating officer in the FIR said, “The following day (February 10), a news item on Zee News showed that on the previous day the JNU students had shouted anti-India and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans.” The officer put on record in the FIR that the SHO had written to the editor of Zee News and acquired the clipping.
It was on the basis of this footage that police registered a case of sedition against the students.
“I am not saying that the tapes are doctored. When the first tape came to the office, the newsroom was divided. Few said that they heard ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in the tapes while many others denied (it). Editorially, I was unhappy with the channel constantly lying that the tapes had ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. We said the slogans were made by Kanhaiya and other students, which is also not true as nothing was clear in the video. I had to resign; people were calling our channel ‘Chhee’ channel,” he said, adding that it was up to the police to authenticate the true events of that day.
On Saturday, the Delhi government sent at least five video clips of the JNU event for forensic tests. However, a senior officer said that they had not received a complaint alleging that the tapes were doctored. “We cannot go by media reports and internal resignations. If anybody informs us alleging the tapes are doctors, we will definitely look into it,” the officer said.
Zee News in their statement on Sunday said that Deepak was not involved in any of the stories related to the JNU row. “…..He never discussed any issues with anybody in the organisation if he had any. His resignation is an internal matter…,” read a statement forwarded by its editor Sudhir Chaudhary.