New Delhi: More than 1,700 citizens — including prominent journalists, film directors, lawyers and civil society members — have written to seven chief ministers Friday, demanding that an FIR be registered against Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke for spreading ‘hate speech’.
The petition demands action against Chavhanke after he posted a teaser of an alleged exposé of the “infiltration” of Muslims in the civil services, in what he termed as “bureaucracy Jihad” on Twitter Tuesday.
लोकतंत्र के सबसे महत्वपूर्ण स्तंभ कार्यपालिका के सबसे बड़े पदों पर मुस्लिम घुसपैठ का पर्दाफ़ाश.
— Suresh Chavhanke “Sudarshan News” (@SureshChavhanke) August 25, 2020
It appeals for “appropriate action” against Chavhane and Sudarshan News “under the prevailing law for this grotesque assault on India”.
The petition has been signed by eminent personalities like directors Anurag Kashyap, Kabir Khan, Vikramaditya Motwane; senior journalists Meenal Baghel, Deepal Trivedi, Sagarika Ghose, Priya Ramani, Natasha Badhwar, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta; and activists such as Aakar Patel, Biraj Patnaik, Avinash Kumar, Piya Chakraborty, among others.
They wrote to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren.
‘Assault on India’s revered institution’
The petition states that Chavhanke’s video constituted “an assault on India’s most revered institutions, on the impartial nature of the UPSC examinations, on our society’s inclusive ethos, on the citizens of the country, and on India itself”.
It added that he also violated Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, which penalises sharing obscene material online.
“These words mirror the hate speech that has been historically seen to precede social unrest and violence. They have no place in a progressive and peaceful society,” the petition notes.
The petitioners also highlight how the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act (UAPA) has been routinely evoked against human rights activists in the past for actions that were less harmful.
“It has become common to see the National Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act being routinely invoked for acts which pale in comparison to the harm the aforementioned speech poses for India’s harmony and security,” it states.
Earlier, several retired IAS officers and the IPS Association had also raised objections to Chavhanke’s show, which was scheduled to be aired Friday, and demanded action against it.