Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has filed a complaint with the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) against Zee News’ debate programme ‘Taal Thok Ke’, which used the offensive slogan “Kudrat ek bahana hai, Muslim abaadi badhana hai?” (Translation: Nature is just an excuse, the motive is to increase Muslim Population?), that aired on June 27, 2021.
According to the NBSA regulations, CJP first wrote to the channel on July 3, urging them to remove the show from all digital platforms and tender a public apology for their misinformed reportage. Having received no response from them, CJP approached the NBSA for action.
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At the time when the show was aired, the Uttar Pradesh government had not come out with the draft bill of the proposed law pertaining to population control. Zee News’ show focused on how the Uttar Pradesh government was mulling over a potential population control law, and emphasised on the statement made by Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman who said that children are “Nizaam-e-Kudrat” (part of the system of nature) and that nobody has a right to interfere with that.
CJP has stated that the entire show which is barely a debate and more a shrill exercise in heightening hyperbole and volume, insinuates that there is only one particular minority community behind India’s backwardness and illiteracy. Mohsin Raza, an Uttar Pradesh minister, part of the panel, said that BJP is a party for the ‘Bhartiya Janta’ (Indian population) and that they are samarpit (dedicated) to the country, working for their nation, taking a dig at the spokesperson from the Samajwadi Party, Anurag Bhadauriya, who was against giving a communal angle to the story and instead brought up issues like Covid-19 deaths, inflation and rising unemployment.
The complaint reads, “Moreover, it needs to be stated that every segment of society, in India or the world, surely has persons with different views: cherry picking from these and using the media to generate a stereotype is certainly not a responsible act from a media house.”
The topic of the show suddenly drifted towards terrorism. Mohsin Raza said that the Samajwadi Party and its supporters don’t have a problem with forceful conversions and instead glorify terrorism. CJP has alleged that the channel allowed such statements to be spoken unabated without any verification.
CJP has also stated that misinformed and offensive taglines were run throughout the show. At some point in the show, the host Ms. Aditi Tyagi did ask questions about why a religious angle has been given to the potential population control law, but on the other hand taglines concerning only Muslim population was flashed on the TV screens of all viewers. Some examples are:
–Hum do humare do par mazhabiru kawat kyun? (Translation: Why a religious angle/barrier to the two-child policy?)
–Nizam-e-kudratya Hindustan par aafat? (Translation: System of nature or a disaster upon India?)
–Kudrat bahana hai, Muslim abaadi badhana hai? (Translation: Is nature just an excuse, motive is to increase the Muslim population?)
CJP’s complaint also mentions that on several occasions, it showed visuals of crowded areas only inhabited by Muslims. It reads, “Such images of areas crowded by only Muslim people clearly displays the intention of the channel that just wanted to regurgitate the ‘Hindu-Muslim narrative’ and divert from the real issues of Covid-19 and the slowing economy. Such themes also tend to perpetuate the myths pertaining to the Muslim population and falsefully glorifies the Muslim population explosion narrative that compels people to believe that Muslims intend to do anything to increase the population of their community to dominate India.”
The show, even though it raised questions about why religion should be factored on a discussion around population, (the topic), actually ends up doing the exact same thing. CJP states that the name of the show “Nature is just an excuse, the motive is to increase Muslim Population?” is sufficient to indicate that this show was aired to target only a particular community and push a majoritarian agenda.
We have also referred to some facts about population explosion in India which have been articulated in a book by Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), SY Quraishi, called “The population Myth-Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India”. The Book states that family planning acceptance is also dependent on delivery of health services to the communities and individuals in question where Muslims are lagging. According to NFHS-4 data, only 77 percent of Muslims women in the age group of 15-49 has received antenatal care from a skilled provider, which is the lowest among all religious groups. They also lag behind in accessing delivery services at healthcare facilities and receiving advice on family planning from community health workers. This results in lower acceptance of family practices by the community.
Further, CJP has listed down the various violations of NBSA rules and the Indian Penal Code against the show and the channel that perpetuates hate against a particular community. It has thus requested the NBSA to take cognisance of the complaint and direct Zee News to remove such content from all their digital accounts and tender a public apology on its channel.
This story first appeared on cjp.org.in