NEW DELHI -- Deeply distressed with the coverage of the Jawaharlal Nehru University row by Zee News, a producer quit the channel on Feb. 19, and made his concerns public in a Facebook post on Sunday.
"We, journalists, question others but not ourselves. We are called the Fourth Estate of democracy. But are we, our institutions, and our coverage, democratic?" Vishwa Deepak wrote on the social media platform.
Deepak said that attempts to stir up "nationalism," and portray JNU Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar as a "traitor," are "dangerous."
"My resignation is dedicated to lakhs and crores of Kanhaiyas and those JNU students who strive and make sacrifices with dreams in their eyes," he wrote.
Kanhaiya, a PhD candidate from Bihar, was arrested on charges of sedition for allegedly raising "anti-national" slogans, and making a speech following an event to mark the third third anniversary of Afzal Guru's execution on Feb. 9.
It has been widely pointed out that Kumar's speech did not contain an "anti-national" content, and in any case, the charge of sedition is only invoked if words, spoken or written, are accompanied by disorder and violence and/ or incitement to disorder and violence.
According to Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, slogans raised included, "Afzal we are ashamed because your killers are free,"War will continue until Kashmir's freedom," "Go India Go Back" and "Long live Pakistan."
In a letter to Zee News, reproduced in the FB post, Deepak questioned why the media agency played a video with a caption 'Pakistan Zindabad', but in actuality there was no audio of the slogan. The journalist said Zee News had not established Kanhaiya's presence in the footage from the JNU campus before declaring him to be a "traitor."
"We played the video, which didn't even have the 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogan, repeatedly to spread unrest. There were some voices come out of the darkness. How did we establish that this was Kanhaiya and his friends. Kanhaiya said a thousand times that he did not endorse anti-national slogans, but we did not pay any heed because our coverage followed the NDA government line," he said.
Deepak asked who would be responsible if one of those students, who had been dubbed as a "traitor" by the media, was harmed because of irresponsible coverage.
Read Deepak's full post here.
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