On October 23, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) wrote to Times Now Navbharat against two debate segments that aired on their channel on October 16. The title of these shows is “Modi के खिलाफ… क्यों खडे ‘हमास’ के साथ? | Israel-Hamas Conflict | Owaisi | ST Hasan” and “Rashtravad: हिंदुस्तान में ‘Hamas Think tank’ कौन बना रहा है? | Israel-Palestine Crisis | Owaisi”.
Both mentioned shows were based on the current ongoing conflict between a militant group Hamas and Israel. On October 7, an unprecedented attack was launched by Hamas on Israel which had reportedly resulted in the death of 1,400 people. In the retaliatory attacks and air strikes that have been launched by Israel in Gaza, at least 3,700 people have been killed, most of which were innocent civilians. While both innocent Israeli citizens and Palestinians have suffered casualties in this ongoing conflict, in India, this issue is being given a communal colour.
The two debate shows attempted to influence its audience with a skewed twist to the said conflict and painted the ones supporting the Palestinian cause of life, liberty and freedom from occupation as a “Muslim issue”. The two shows built a one-sided narrative that Muslims, leaders of the opposition and students of the left organisation protesting in support of Palestine were supporting the illegal activities of Hamas as well.
Through the complaint, we have highlighted that both the anchors of the debates, namely Rakesh Pandey and Naina Yadav, framed the narrative in such a partisan manner that Indian Muslims were shown as sympathisers of the militant group of Hamas due to their “religious connection”. In Pandey’s Rashtravad show, he had formulated the following question as the premise of the debate:
- “Will there be support of terrorism owing to the religious connection shared?
- Has the ‘Muslim leadership’ been exposed in this Israel-Hamas conflict?
- Who is building the ‘Hamas think tank’ in India?”
As is evident, the said questions were formed in a way that portrayed the Muslim community and Muslim leaders supporting Israel in a suspicious and negative light. While the debate itself was biased, the host had concluded it by stating that “let me tell you why the leaders of the opposition says all this, it is because you find people in the country who are willing to go to a funeral of our Prime Ministers and who protest on the day that Yakub Menon underwent his death sentence. It is because these people think that they will appease the sentiments of a particular group that they make such statements.”
In Naina Yadav’s debate show, the question “whether the people of India will also support Hamas and are the leaders of the opposition instigating people?” was posed to the participants. The question in itself was biased and leading. Both of these shows contributed to the stigmatising and polarising environment that has been created for the Indian Muslims in the wake of escalating conflict in Palestinian and Israeli territories.
The complaint highlighted the duties of a host that are prescribed by the NBDSA (News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority) guidelines. The said guidelines state that hosts of a news segment are supposed to and expected to take a neutral stand, introduce a neutral theme and not side with a particular community to put any other community on the spot. And yet, in contravention of the guidelines, both the hosts Rakesh Pandey and Naina Yadav were keen on leading the debate with the question of whether the Muslim leaders of the opposition, protestors and the Muslim community are supporting Hamas and creating a ‘Hamas think tank’ within India. The complaint then highlighted the codes of ethics and principles of self-regulation as laid out by the NBDSA which were violated by Times Now Navbharat through these shows.
The complete complaint can be read here: