An FIR has been filed at the Kozhikode Kasaba police station in Kerala against Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary based on a complaint accusing him of spreading religious animosity and hurting sentiments of the Muslim community in connection with a programme aired on the television network on March 11.
The segment anchored by Chaudhary on March 11 focused on different kinds of ‘jihad’, using a flow-chart describing them.
The case was filed against Chaudhary under non-bailable section 295 A of the IPC, based on a complaint by Adv P Gavas, the state joint secretary of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF), the youth wing of the CPI in Kerala. Gavas said he decided to file the complaint against the anchor after watching a clip of the programme sent by a friend two days after it aired.
“The programme that this channel telecast is not rooted in a system that we believe in. We acknowledge and believe in the constitutional obligations towards all religions and the secular values of this country. This programme stands in stark contrast to such beliefs. It is against a particular religious community,” Gavas said over the phone from Kozhikode where he practices as a lawyer.
He said that he consulted the AIYF state leadership before he went on to file the complaint on March 17. The complaint was sent to Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera and copies forwarded to the Kozhikode Police commissioner and the Home Minister.
In the complaint, Gavas alleged that Chaudhary targeted the country’s Muslims through the ‘jihad flow-chart’ he used in a bid to raise religious tensions and create fissures between different communities. He pointed to the advisory of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry where guideline 2 (ii) warns against using visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.
Following the registration of the FIR, Gavas said he got a flurry of calls from the ZEE management, including from journalists in Delhi and Bengaluru, inquiring why he made such a move. “They asked me about my motives behind filing a complaint and why I did so in Kerala. Initially, they did not know that I was attached to a political organisation. It’s natural. They wanted to know my version of the matter which I was not ready to do. I am not obligated to inform them about my stand,” he said.
The AIYF leader said he filed the complaint in Kozhikode as he resided in the city. “As per the new IT Act, once a channel’s programme is telecast, it is public. If a viewer disagrees with the programme, he/she can register it anywhere. A case against such a programme can be filed anywhere. Since I’m an advocate practicing here, I decided to file the case here,” he said.
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