Pulled up for telecasting his controversial ‘UPSC Jihad’ programme on its channel, Sudarshan News editor Suresh Chavhanke defended the show before the Supreme Court on Thursday, 17 September.
In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court before the day’s brief hearing on behalf of Sudarshan News, Chavhanke asked the court to remove its injunction and defended the shows broadcast by him.
Chavhanke has defended his shows as “investigative journalism” and an attempt to make the public and the government aware of “anti-national and anti-social activities and the modus operandi.”
He argues that he used the the heading “UPSC Jehad” for his recent ‘Bindas Bol’ episodes because it has come to his knowledge through various sources that:
“Zakat Foundation has received funds from various terror-linked organizations. It is not that all contributors to the Zakat Foundation are terror-linked. However, some of the contributors are linked to organizations or are organizations that fund extremist groups. The funds received by the Zakat Foundation, in turn, are used to support aspirants for IAS, IPS or UPSC.”
According to him, he “came across certain alarming facts to the effect that certain organizations working outside India have hatched a conspiracy to infiltrate the bureaucracy” and hence prepared his story.
He says that he does not have any ill will against any community or any individual, and that he does not oppose the selection of any meritorious candidate in the civil services.
This comes after the Supreme Court restrained Sudarshan TV from airing its show "Bindas Bol" for claiming to “expose” the “infiltration of Muslims” in the civil services. The SC called the show ‘rabid’ and an attempt to vilify Muslims.
He has annexed several documents which he believes back up his claims of links between office bearers of the Zakat Foundation of India and people with connections to terrorist organisations.
Terming it a matter of national security, the channel sought a public debate and discussion on the source of funding. Sudarshan News reportedly claimed that the show should not be judged only on the basis of some slides and all the episodes must be watched to understand their perspective.
He has also sought to defend his claims about Muslims having a higher upper age limit and more attempts to apply for the civil services examinations by saying he was talking about Muslim OBCs, not Muslims in general.
The affidavit also includes details of slides and clips presented during the 4 episodes he has broadcast, which include comments by Muslim leaders about how young Muslims should join the civil services. It is unclear how this backs up claims of infiltration or ‘Jihad’.
The affidavit concludes by saying that there already exists a mechanism for complaints and grievance redressal for the petitioners and intervenors who have a problem with his show under Section 22 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, outside of this petition to the Supreme Court.