A journalist working with Zee News has resigned, suggesting that the channel deliberately misinterpreted a video clip to brand some students including Kanhaiya Kumar as anti-nationals and trigger the controversy at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Vishwa Deepak, who put in his papers on Friday, wrote a lengthy resignation letter in Hindi and addressed to “Dear Zee News”, saying his decision was in “protest against the role we played in kindling and then promoting a campaign of blind nationalism which used the JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar as an excuse”.
Kumar is behind bars on charges of sedition while several of his fellow-students are facing arrest for alleged anti-national activities during an event at the campus to protest the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Delhi’s Police FIR in the case is based solely on the video clip aired by Zee News. On Saturday, the Delhi government sent at least five video clips of the JNU event for forensic tests after allegations that they were doctored.
In his letter, Deepak alleged that the channel went out of the way to portray Kanhaiya Kumar and others as anti-nationals.
“The video didn’t have any ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans at all -– yet we played it repeatedly to spread madness and mayhem. How did we believe that some voices coming out of the dark belonged to Kanhaiya and his companions? Due to our biases, we heard ‘long live Indian courts’ as ‘long live Pakistan’ and working on the government line, brought the careers, their hopes and aspirations and families of some people to the brink of destruction,” Deepak wrote in his letter which he has also posted on his Facebook page.
An English translation of the letter has been published by scroll.in with the journalist’s permission.
Deepak said even in its coverage of the controversy surrounding the suicide by Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, the channel tried to “dilute the issue” and act as the savior of Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya and a leader of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), who are accused in the case.
Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary refuted Deepak’s allegations saying the channel has a “completely transparent and stringent” system which does not “permit any specific viewpoint to dominate any news broadcast beyond editorial merit”.
“In any case the person concerned was not involved in any 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 of the organisation,” Chaudhary told HT in a text message.