Sudharshan News is a pro-Hindutva Hindi channel targeting Muslims, where propagation of hatred and incitement of majority community against minority communities is the norm. The 1994 Cable TV Act, which is the basis of much of the regulation of TV, clearly states that no programme can be telecast on television which “contains attacks on religions or communities or visuals or words that are contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.” Therefore, one cannot vilify Muslims under the law, no matter what their views on unfettered, one-sided free speech are.
But, Sudarshan News editor-in-chief, Suresh Chavhanke considers himself above all laws. Time and again, he has violated laws, indulged in communal diatribe and encouraged a divisive agenda, going against the statutory standards that do not permit provocative expressions of targeted, religion-based hatred. In the past too, many attempts have been made by the Sudarshan News to spread misinformation as well as disinformation, in order to pit the Hindu community against the Muslim community.
A new video of Hate monger Suresh Chavhanke has now gone viral on social media, where he is in conversation with a Hindu monk Devkinandan Thakur and the both of them can be heard making calls for repeating the Babri mosque demolition in Mathura and Kashi.
The video starts with Suresh Chavhanke unleashing his diatribe by saying that “We have a Constitution. But for you and me, Gita is our Constitution and abiding by it is our duty.” Following this, Chavhanke can be heard inciting people to repeat the history of communal violence by saying “whatever has been done till now, let it be. But for the future, always remember, there is a history of kar seva in India.” He later even says that “I do not believe in following the law, never have and never will. Who makes these laws? We have made these laws, I agree, but when our population decreases in India, this constitution will not stay the same.”
Chavhanke then openly starts attacking the Muslim community and says, “Their mosque say this, pray five times a day, their Allah is the great, then what about our Mahadev, our Lord Krishna? These is beyond our patience. I do not know what to say about this. Till now we could have said that we did not understand what they are saying in Farsi, Arabi or Urdu, but now we know.”
Bringing in his hate speech case, Chavhanke then says, “If my speech is hate speech, then what is being uttered from these mosques, their Azaan, that is the biggest (form of) hate speech.”
Monk Devkinandan Thakur can be heard uttering inciteful and provocative words, “There is no need for us to be this tolerant, so much so that people abuse your god on your face while you go to the temple and ring the bells. Our god will not be happy with that. If you want to please our God, then in addition to ringing the bell in the temple, go down to the road and ask for your rights whenever needed.”
After this, Chavhanke brings in the demolition of mosques, which were purported to be built over temples, and building temples over the demolished mosques, and says “our predecessors do not ask us to demolish mosques and build temples, but those mosques that have been built over temples have been demolished by our ancestors many times. We should not forget this,”
Monk Devkinandan Thakur adds to this by saying that “when your Quran says then if you offer your prayers from a place that used to be a temple, their prayers won’t be accepted. Then why do you do this?” to this, Chavhanke laughingly adds, “this way, 99% of the mosques will become useless and go away”
Manipulating history, Chavhanke then stoops down to attacking the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb by saying “Aurangzeb broke the idol of our god and put it in the staircase. Those who give us a lecture of brotherhood, why do you use those stairs yourself? They should themselves have demolished the stairs and given the idol to us. If they dig up the stairs themselves, we will have to do it.” The audience can be seen clapping to this statement.
Further instigating the audience, Chavhanke then uses anti-Muslims slurs and says “our Keshav is under the stairs. And upon him, these Mullas (anti-Muslim slur) are walking with shoes. If our government, our constitution is stopping us from taking action, then it is wrong.”
Monk Devkinandan Thakur then openly calls for violence and destruction of mosque in Mathura, by saying that “as Ram has been freed in Ayodhya, we have to free Lord Krishna in Kashi-Mathura. Till then, this nation-wide protest will go on and we will not sit quietly.”
What was as dangerous as the words of these two Hindu extreme right wingers is the enthusiastic support they elicited from members of the audience also echoed their divisive and violent words. One member of the audience was heard saying that “whenever you give us the sign, not only me but many other Hinduvaadi people who are ready to do anything, from striking the first axe to going to the jail for the first time; you just need to tell us what to do.”
Another member of the audience then stands up and says that “through your channel, I want to tell all those “be-dharmis” to get disclined, or else the members of the Sanatan dharma have risen against them and they will be set all right. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat”
The video can be viewed here:
Dour years ago, in October 2019, Chavhanke had ran a broadcast where he claimed that AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi ‘danced’ after the murder of Hindu Samaj leader Kamlesh Tiwari. Chavhanke played a video of Owaisi uploaded by ANI, where the leader can be seen imitating maneuvering a kite (his party’s symbol). This was shot on October 17, a day before Tiwari was killed in Lucknow on October 18, 2019. This is just one example of the kind of disinformation spread by Sudarshan News and Suresh Chavhanke. Other similar examples are:
- In July 2018, Sudarshan News had published a report which claimed that a decree against UP police was passed by a mosque in Uttar Pradesh. The news had turned out to be false.
- During a July 1, 2019, the Sudarshan News had played a video broadcast where sword-wielding people could be heard chanting slogans calling to kill RSS workers. In reality, the video was morphed.
- In 2018, Suresh Chavhanke had posted a video claiming Muslim boy tore the Indian flag. The video has then gone viral on social media, wherein a teenage boy was seen tearing the national flag while saying, “Main pakka Musalman hoon”. Alt News had found that the boy actually belonged to the Hindu community and was posing as a Muslim to stir up a controversy.
Most Sudarshan News articles start off by making an emotional appeal to its viewers, and most of the channel’s content is loaded with sensationalism. Despite being criticised out on multiple occasions for pushing a partisan narrative, the channel continues to push it’s polarize opinions, broadcast dangerous misinformation, and enjoy endorsement from politicians. Sudarshan News and Suresh Chavhanke have a combined social media following of over 14 lakh – their ability to shape public opinion is not to be underestimated. Any such manipulated report spread by a media outlet with a large following could or should have serious consequences. Sudarshan News has escaped the long arm of law as interpreted by the ruling executive or the police authorities.
These verbal hate attacks have, predictably, become even shriller and louder as the general elections are approaching. Though we have several recent and gory example of such hate speech erupting into violence (as in instances of cow traders being brutally lynched to death of the communal conflagration on North East Delhi in 2020), such crimes have been allowed, unchecked. These visceral assaults have been verbal, through hate speech, instilling the mostly Hindu audience with misinformation and hatred, weaponising sections of the population in thought and deed.
In the year 2020, when the Supreme Court had restrained Sudarshan News from further telecasting the rest of the episodes in its “UPSC Jihad” series while observing that the program was “insidious”, Justice Chandrachud had commented, “An anathema on 19(1)(a) to impose censorship but at the same time human dignity has to be taken into account and some standards have to be imposed which in fact, go beyond this program”. Further, commenting on the reach of electronic media, Justice Chandrachud had said, “Electronic media is as powerful as the print media because the access of electronic media is extraordinarily huge and broad and it can become a focal point for de-stabilising the nation by targeting particular communities.”
The court further commented, “The edifice of a stable democracy society under a regime of constitutional rights and values is founded on co-existence of communities. India is a melting pot of civilizations, cultures and values. Any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with great disfavour by this court which is a custodian of constitutional rights.”
This Order of the Supreme Court may be read here:
Clearly, even these findings by the Supreme Court of India have not deterred either Suresh Chavhanke or Sudarshan News. As if evident from the words of Suresh Chavhanke in the aforementioned video, he has no value or respect for our Constitution or Courts, no fear of executive or police action, reflecting a high level state of impunity that he enjoys.