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Now Zee News calls renowned poet Gauhar Raza an anti-national

Nikhil Kumar Verma | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:53 IST
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Immediate flashpoint

  • Zee News airs isolated portions of a poetry symposium held in Delhi, terms it anti-national
  • The channel singles out renowned scientist and poet Gauhar Raza
  • Plays his poetry recital on loop, repeatedly calls him anti-national

What has been happening

  • The channel is under fire for airing unverified videos of Kanhaiya that led to his arrest
  • The RSS led a campaign against students of JNU and termed the campus a den of anti-national activities
  • On 8 March, the channel played isolated portions of political scientist Nivedita Menon\'s speech at JNU and termed her anti-national

Academics hit back

  • Artists, academics and activists have condemned the channel for creating mass-frenzy against individuals
  • They have termed the channel\'s skewed coverage unethical, defamatory and criminal
  • They have asked the Union and the Delhi government to take action against the channel

CORRECTION: The earlier version of this story misattributed JNU being a "den of anti-nationals" to Zee News. The observation was made by RSS leaders. The error is regretted.

Zee News, the flagship channel of Zee Media Group, has gone all guns blazing at an innocous poetry symposium that is organised in Delhi annually. The channel's latest campaign comes at a time when it is facing allegations of airing unverified videos and misleading the public debate on the issue of sedition.

The prestigious Shankar-Shad Mushaira is organised in memory of Urdu poets Shankar Lall and Murli Dhar, who were also renowned social, academic and cultural personalities. It celebrates the shared literary heritage of India and Pakistan and seeks to spread the message of peace.

Also read - An 'anti-national' JNU student's letter to Smriti Irani

The 51st edition of the event held on Saturday, 5 March, at Delhi's Shankar Lall Hall and was attended by eminent poets from India, Pakistan, the United States and Qatar attended the Mushaira. The channel recently ran a news programme, terming the symposium a meeting of "Afzal-Premi gang" (a gang of Afzal lovers).

Zee News played a poem recited by the renowned Indian scientist and poet Gauhar Raza at the symposium and called him an 'anti-national' who supports Afzal Guru. The show was hosted by Zee News' controversial editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhury, who termed Raza's poem against India's interests.

A visibly perturbed Raza says he is consulting his lawyers to take legal action against the channel

Since then, Gauhar Raza has received several threats. "I have received several threats over the phone after the program was aired. I am being branded as a separatist and an 'anti-national'. Many people are abusing me," says Raza.

A visibly perturbed Raza says he is consulting his lawyers to take legal action against the channel.

When asked why the channel has targeted him, Raza replied, "There is nothing objectionable in the footage being shown by Zee News. They have only played the selective parts of the video. This is a case of doctoring the original footage. The channel is maligning me for TRP. The video is for all to see."

Also read - Fanatics take over: these anti-Kanhaiya YouTube videos are insanely chilling

His poem (embedded below) cautions against the blind nationalism and questions intellectuals who remain silent over perceived intolerance in the country. It also hails the power of youth and warns that anyone who plays with the fire of the youth will burn her/his hands.

Neither the video nor the ghazal mention Afzal Guru. And it is hard to see how it promotes anti-India sentiment.

The ghazal:

Dharm me lipti watan parasti kya kya swang rachayegi,

masli kaliyan, jhulsa gulshan, zard khizaan dikhlayengi..

Europe jis vahshat se ab bhi sehma sehma rehta hai,

khatra hai wo vahshat mere mulq mein aag lagayegi..

German gaskado (gas chambers) se ab tak khoon ki badboo aati hai,

andhi watan parasti hum ko us raste le jayegi..

Andhe kuen me jhooth ki naav tez chali thi maan liya,

lekin bahar roshan dunia tum se sach bulwayegi..

Nafrat me jo pale badhe hain, nafrat me jo khele hain,

nafrat dekho aage aage unse kya karwayegi..

Fankaron se pooch rahe ho kyun lautaye hain samman,

Poocho, kitne chup baithe hain, sharm unhe kab aayegi..

Yeh mat khao, wo mat pehno, ishq to bilkul karna mat,

deshdroh ki chap tumhare upar bhi lag jayegi..

Yeh mat bhulo agli naslein roshan shola hoti hain,

aag kuredoge, chingari daaman tak to aayegi...

Raza, who has also made a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots, is open about his differences with the BJP's ideology. "Every individual or party has a freedom to propagate the ideas of their choice in Indian democracy," he says. "Dissent has a very important place in any democracy. However, it is being equated with anti-nationalism in today's scenario."

Earlier on Tuesday, 8 March, the channel targetted well-known political scientist Nivedita Menon and labelled her 'anti-national'. Portions of her speech at JNU were broadcast on the channel and quoted out of context.

On Thursday, 10 March, over 200 academics, artists and social activists published a statement condemning Zee News for "singling out of individuals and creating a mass-frenzy against them," under the garb of journalism.

The statement, which was signed by the likes of actor Naseeruddin Shah, management expert Dr Anand Teltumbde, and the former chairman of Lalit Kala Akademy Ashok Vajpeyi, termed Zee News' broadcast "defamatory" and "criminal". It also appeals to the Union and Delhi governments to initiate criminal proceeding against the channel for putting a citizen's life under threat and demands an apology from the channel.

Zee News has been at the forefront of running a pro-establishment campaign

Zee News, the fourth-most-viewed Hindi news channel, has been at the forefront of running a pro-establishment campaign, airing unverified videos and polarising the debate on nationalism over the past few weeks in India. Its editor Sudhir Chaudhury, accused of running an extortion racket, has termed the channel's approach to news "instant journalism", where "same day you raise an issue, by evening you reach a conclusion".

Edited by Cyril Sam

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First published: 10 March 2016, 9:30 IST
 
Nikhil Kumar Verma @nikhilbhusan

निखिल बिहार के कटिहार जिले के रहने वाले हैं. राजनीति और खेल पत्रकारिता की गहरी समझ रखते हैं. बनारस हिंदू विश्वविद्यालय से हिंदी में ग्रेजुएट और आईआईएमसी दिल्ली से पत्रकारिता में पीजी डिप्लोमा हैं. हिंदी पट्टी के जनआंदोलनों से भी जुड़े रहे हैं. मनमौजी और घुमक्कड़ स्वभाव के निखिल बेहतरीन खाना बनाने के भी शौकीन हैं.

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