Nearly two weeks after the whole Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row started, a Zee News Producer has resigned from his post, expressing his reservation on the coverage of the whole incident by the channel.
The Producer, Vishwa Deepak, who had worked with the channel for over one and half years, posted his resignation on his Facebook page.
He stated that he resigned due to the channel’s ‘biased coverage’ of the JNU incident and how that led to the sedition charge against the university’s students union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
Deepak, who is an output producer, was part of the team that produced a Zee News show which alleged that JNU students had raised ‘anti-India’ slogans in the campus. The incident took place during the protest against the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
Indian Express Copy of Delhi Police FIR against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar
Kanhaiya in turn was arrested and was booked under sedition charges by the Delhi Police.
Indian Express JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar being escorted by Delhi Police
In a letter to Zee News, Deepak not only raised many questions about ethics of journalism but, also stated that the channel had broadcast a video which allegedly showed students raising slogans like ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. However, in reality, that wasn’t clear in the video.
He then went on to point how Zee News had repeatedly played the video to spread madness without establishing the truth.
Zee News A clip from Zee News Broadcast Video
His Facebook post said:
“Are we the mouthpieces of the BJP or the RSS that we will do whatever they say? 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. It would have been better if we had let the agencies do their jobs and waited for their conclusions.”
In his resignation letter to the channel, Deepak spoke about his guilt and even questioned on what grounds had they labelled Kanhaiya and others as traitors.
He then went on to ask will they be not responsible if the situation led to riots or if some was murdered because of what they did. He said:
“I am not able to sleep well. I am restless. Maybe it is the result of a guilty conscience. It is the biggest taint any individual can be marked by: treason, of being a traitor. But the question is, as journalists, what right do we have to give certificates and degrees on being a traitor? Isn’t this the domain of the courts? Along with Kanhaiya, we made many students appear to be traitors and anti-nationals in the eyes of the people. If anyone is murdered tomorrow, who will take its responsibility? 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?”
“I am not able to sleep well. I am restless. Maybe it is the result of a guilty conscience. It is the biggest taint any individual can be marked by: treason, of being a traitor. But the question is, as journalists, what right do we have to give certificates and degrees on being a traitor? Isn’t this the domain of the courts?
Along with Kanhaiya, we made many students appear to be traitors and anti-nationals in the eyes of the people. If anyone is murdered tomorrow, who will take its responsibility? 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?”
He even pointed out how Zee News coverage had threatened Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya’s families and questioned the channel if they have turned blind to their situation.
“People are threatening to rape Umar Khalid’s sister and attack her with acid, they are calling her the sister of a traitor. Think, if something like this happens, would we not be responsible for it? Kanhaiya said it not once but thousands of times that he does not endorse anti-national slogans but he was not even heard once because the mayhem we created was on the government line. Have we taken a serious look at Kanhaiya’s home? Kanhaiya’s home is not a “home” but a painful symbol of the helplessness of this country’s farmers and common people, it is a graveyard of those hopes that are being buried every second in this country. But we have become blind.”
The resignation letter by Deepak had spread like wildfire on social media.
Soon after the letter was posted on FB, he spoke to The Indian Express and explained the event that led to that telecast. He said that he received the footage on February 10 and was told to work on it for a show that day.
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“On February 10, I was on the morning shift, which comprised a shift head, two second shift heads, three or four producers of which I was one, two or three package producers, and two or three video editors. At the editorial meet that afternoon, a producer was given the video footage and told to work on it because it was a ‘big story’. The producer brought the video to me and I watched it and heard it. The video was grainy and there was a lot of sloganeering but most of which was not clearly audible. I heard ‘Bhartiya Court Zindabad’,and I showed the video to other “responsible” colleagues but none were able to clearly make out the words being chanted. Then our editors came down to our section and told us it was a big story, it had to go on air and that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ could be heard. So we all agreed because the editors and other colleagues felt it was ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ that was being chanted. We began to produce the show and because the audio was not clear, we added a bubble or blurb with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ written in it to guide our viewers on what we felt was being chanted.”
Deepak is a graduate of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Delhi and has worked with news channels such as News 24, AajTak and News Nation in the past.
Facebook Fromer Zee News Producer Vishawa Deepak
When the channel was contacted with regards to Deepak’s resignation, Zee News Editor Sudhir Chowdhary said:
“Zee media is one of the largest media houses in the country. People leaving and recruitments being done is a normal affair. 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,”
Last week, Chowdhary had stood by what the channel had aired and said, “The slogans are very clear for anybody to hear.”
However, he did add, “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.”
Here is the full content of Deepak’s resignation letter:
He then went on to write on about other political issues, and how the channel had not remained ‘neutral’ while report it:
In the end he pointed out how fight for the TRP’s have ruined many careers and said: