The Zee News editor plagiarised a ‘jihad chart’ from Facebook to peddle his bigotry. And his endeavour was funded by several reputed companies.
Coronavirus is declared a pandemic, India restricts the entry of foreigners, stock markets crash, Madhya Pradesh’s government teeters on the brink of collapse, a big private bank is in crisis, the home minister finally responds to questions about the Delhi carnage. These were the major news stories of March 11.
For Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, however, the most important story of the day was…jihad.
If you have been reading and watching our coverage of Sudhir Chaudhary and Zee News, you would know that if he is featured on Newslaundry, it’s generally because he has traded in misinformation or anti-Muslim hatred.
Indeed, that is what he did on his show, DNA, on Wednesday: he spewed bigotry based on a conspiracy theory based on a graphic plagiarised from a Facebook page whose sole purpose is to propagate anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Phew!
It is hard work, we know. It costs time and money. And Sudhir’s show is flush with money, willingly given by reputed companies. This particular episode of Bloodlust TV was funded by, among others, Polycab, Sensodyne and Maruti Suzuki.
One cannot but admire Sudhir for his doggedness in fishing out a “story” that can be spun into a primetime episode of bloodlust. His latest DNA test was such a story, “Jammu Land and Jihad”.
The highlight of the show was, of course, the “jihad chart”. But even that didn’t suffice for Sudhir. He felt it necessary to explain to his viewers what the chart detailed: “types of jihad”.
The show was pegged on an ongoing high court case over the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants Act of 2001, popularly known as the Roshni Act. Through this law, the Farooq Abdullah government had given away tracts of government land in Jammu to encroachers, subject to them paying the market prices. The initiative was estimated to fetch the government Rs 25,000 crore. But, in 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General found that only Rs 73 crore had been collected until then. It also found the land was allocated mostly to influential politicians and affluent people.
Citing such irregularities, then governor SP Malik repealed the law in 2018.
Here the story gets interesting. The demand to repeal the law had been made most strongly by Ikk jutt Jammu, an organisation led by a lawyer named Ankur Sharma. Remember that name? He’s the same person who set up the Hindu Ekta Manch to mobilise support for the Hindu men accused of gangraping and killing an 8-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua in 2018. Ankur also represented the accused. There is a viral video of him urging people not to sell their land to Muslims. Another time, he called Mehbooba Mufti a “jihadi CM”.
Not surprisingly, Ankur featured in Sudhir’s “Land Jihad” show.
The high court case over the Roshni Act was set for a hearing on March 12. (At the hearing, the court told the administration of the new Union Territory to submit all the records related to the land scam by March 18.)
This explains why Sudhir did the show on the issue the night before.
Sudhir’s show wasn’t really about the court case, of course. It was about how Muslims were effecting “demographic change” in Jammu, which is majority Hindu.
Pretext for Islamophobia
Sudhir took the controversy over the Roshni Act and ran wild with it. He claimed to posses “court documents” showing 90 percent of encroachers on state land in Jammu are Muslim. According to Sudhir, this was proof that an attempt was afoot to change Jammu’s demography.
Sudhir even brought Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel into the conversation while accusing the Congress and other parties of making constant attempts since 1947 to settle “outsiders” in particular places to change their population makeups. Then, he had on known hatemonger Tarek Fateh to bolster his wild theory. Fateh, on live TV, said this was an example of Ghazwa-e-Hind, supposedly a campaign by Muslims of India and Pakistan to “eradicate” Hindus from the subcontinent.
See what he was trying to do? No? Allow me to recap.
In Sudhir’s warped worldview, a land scam involving corrupt politicians from the 2000s was an attempt by Muslims to take over land in Jammu, which proves that the community is engaged in “zameen jihad”. And, it is part of Ghazwa-e-Hind, historically promoted by the Congress and “other parties”.
The sensible journalistic approach could have been to expand on what the CAG had found, who were the politicians involved, what was the status of the case over the Roshni Act. Perhaps, Zee News reporters could have even done some leg work, going on the ground to speak to the occupants of the land. The show should have ended there.
But then Sudhir has been amping up his conspiracy game lately, so to expect sensible journalism from him is like expecting the BJP government to admit demonetisation was a bad bad move. Sudhir brings a religious angle into every story so that he can end up on the “Hindu khatre mein hai” territory, saying in a nudge-nudge wink-wink way that Muslims are the enemies of the nation.
‘Types of jihad’ chart
To this end, on Wednesday, Sudhir presented a “types of jihad” chart. “Zameen jihad”, meaning “land jihad”, is only a part of it because the conspiracy is much much larger.
Hold your breath for a full blast of Islamophobia because here’s how Sudhir went on to define the different types of jihad.
First up, “intellectual jihad”, which, in turn, has several categories. They are:
Economic jihad: Create polarisation using business and personal wealth.
Historical jihad: Manipulate history to glorify the Mughal rule and confuse people.
Media jihad: Use paid media to speak in favour of Islam. Here, he invoked his favourite term for mediapersons he doesn’t agree with, “designer journalist”.
Film and song jihad: Use songs and movies to glorify Mughal kings and “mafias”, all with the objective of making Islamic culture more popular.
Secularism jihad: Employ communists and liberals to spread the message of secularism.
Then there’s “fundamentalist jihad”. It includes:
Population jihad: Marry multiple people to increase the population of Muslims.
Love jihad: Sudhir just said, “You know what this is.”
Land jihad: Capture as much land as you can and build mosques, cemeteries and madrasas on it.
Education jihad: Build more madrasas and promote the use of Arabic.
Victim jihad: This, Sudhir said, means Muslims saying they are victims and, therefore, should be given reservations; their personal laws must not be changed; and they should receive special jobs and honorariums.
Direct jihad: This involves Muslims using weapons and bombs.
Sudhir pointed out that jihad is waged not just through arms, it is waged through psychological weapons as well.
He clarified that the word “jihad” has a meaning solely for people with ill intentions. “If you don’t have ill intentions, whatever religion you’re from, don’t assume that we are saying all this about you.”
After spending an entire show demonising Muslims and explaining what “tools” and “weapons” they used to wage a religious war, Sudhir was like, Oh, this is not applicable to any particular religious group, ok?
Interestingly, this entire segment seemed like Sudhir was reading it out; he would read out a definition in English and then translate it to Hindi. So, I took a random English line and googled it.
It led me to a post on a Facebook page called Boycott Halal In India. It has the exact image Sudhir used, but in English.
There’s a watermark, “Secularism ki Topi”, on the chart but a web search did not reveal a source with that name. A glance at this page is enough to show that it’s dedicated to conspiracy theories such as that “halal food funds terrorists”.
Here is the cover page.
Sudhir concluded the show declaring that while other TV channels were focusing on political news, he believed this news was more important for the country because people should know how even their land, forests and rivers are undergoing religious conversion. This, Sudhir emphasised, is not good for the country.
Sponsors of Islamophobia
This episode of bigotry on primetime TV was funded by a whole bunch of companies whose products and services you might be using every day.
(We can call out these sponsors of hate and bigotry because we don’t take their ad money. We depend on you, our readers, to keep us going. For we believe that when the public pays, the public is served; when advertisers pay, advertisers are served. So subscribe to Newslaundry and pay to keep news free.)
Say hello to Polycab, Super Shakti and Sensodyne.
Congratulations also to Amity University and Century Ply for enabling Sudhir’s bigotry!
Finally, a big thanks to Maruti Suzuki, Wonder Cement and Somany tiles for sponsoring this hate mongering.
We have asked these sponsors why they fund such blatant bigotry on Zee News. None of them have responded so far. We will update this story if a response is received.
Here are the questions we have send these advertisers:
You were a sponsor for a show on Zee News titled “zameen jihad”, hosted by Sudhir Chaudhary on March 11, 2020. Do you agree with the overall content of the show?
Are you aware that Sudhir Chaudhary plagiarised a “chart” showing various types of jihad from a Facebook page and read it out on air? What is your response regarding this content aired on Zee News?
Does your company agree with Sudhir Chaudhary’s assessment on the show that “land, jungles and rivers are undergoing religious conversion” and that “this is not good for the country”?
Does your company agree with Sudhir Chaudhary that different “types of jihad” are being used to “glorify Islam, Mughal rule and create polarisation”?
Is it a fair assessment that this particular show aired on Zee News was Islamophobic, bigoted and communal? If yes, do give reasons as to why your company is advertising and supporting such content.