NEW DELHI: The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has issued a notice to TV news channel Zee News for branding Kairana Muslim women’s burqa as “Talibani Burqa” in a news story the channel aired on 28th May, just a day before the Kairana Lok Sabha by-poll.
While the by-polling was on in Kairana parliamentary constituency, Zee News TV channel had telecast a report showing Kairana’s Muslim women wearing “Talibani burqas”. The report, anchored by channel’s executive editor Sudhir Chaudhry on 28 May, repeatedly targeted elderly Muslim women of Kairana who wear shuttlecock burqas which the channel dubbed as “Talibani burqas”.
“It alleged that the Muslim community of the area is inspired by Wahabism and that they are trying to propagate the “ideology of Taliban.” Amid images of Muslim women wearing burqas words were flashed like “Bharat mein Talibani soch ki ghuspaith?” (Talibani thinking’s intrusion into India), “Talibani burqe ka itihasik DNA test” (Historic DNA test of Talibani burqas), “Dekhein Kairana mein Talibani burqe ka kya kaam” (Look, what Talibani burqas are doing in Kairana). In addition to the broadcast, the channel also published a report same day on its website with the headline: “Dheere dheere Bharat ke Musalmanon ko kattar banaya jar aha hai” (Slowly, Indian Muslims are being made extremists). It claimed that Indian Muslims are being Talibanised which it called a “karwa sach” (bitter truth) and said that attempt is being made to change the DNA of Indian Muslims, that Kairana has become a “laboratory” of communalism and of religion-based politics, that “Talibani thinking has crossed Afghani borders into Pakistan and from there it has infiltrated into India”,” noted DMC in its notice.
“Such comments are a clear attempt to defame a community, propagate disaffection against it and concoct a fake story which has no root or basis since the kind of burqas the channel refers to are centuries-old in India. This clearly is an offence under IPC Section 295/A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and IPS Section 505 (spreading false rumours). The baordcast was also an attempt to polarize communities and influence voters on communal lines while a by-election was on in the area, which is a punishable offence under Section 171/C of IPC,” said DMC chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan.
DMC has issued a notice to the Managing Director of Zee News asking him to file a reply with documentary proof that the women of Kairana (Shamli dist., U.P.) have been Talibanised; how and by whom this “Talibani soch” has been imported into India; is the burqa worn by some elderly Muslim women in Kairana not a centuries-old tradition and was this broadcast not an attempt to influence and polarize voters while polling was on in Kairana.
“If unable to justify its conclusions and remarks with proofs, the channel has to submit a written reply offering unconditional apology and explain what action has been taken against the reporter(s) and staff writer(s) responsible for this false report which spread disaffection against a section of Indian citizens and defamed them on communal and religious grounds. The channel also has to file an undertaking that it will desist from airing such unfounded reports in future. Failing this, appropriate action will be taken by DMC against the channel,” said DMC in its notice.
The channel has been given two weeks’ time to reply to the notice.
Meanwhile, DMC Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan is planning to write to the Election Commission and News Broadcasting Standards Authority to take appropriate action against this channel.
Caravan Daily had carried a detailed critical story on the Zee News report on 31st May.