The state broadcaster did not disclose these political affiliations in its videos.
State broadcaster Doordarshan chipped in with short videos uploaded on the YouTube channels of DD National and DD News UP. Two of them caught our eye – one from Hapur district, and the other from Bareilly. Both contained interviews with local Muslims on why they supported the UCC. The bytes had been collated by DD News journalists in the state.
Except not all of the interviewees were ‘common Muslim citizens’, as DD News proclaimed. Some had connections to the BJP, a fact that DD News skipped mentioning.
For instance, the Hapur video contained an interview with one Danish Qureishi, described as a local.
He said, “The UCC law is very good. I openly support the UCC on behalf of the Muslim community because the BJP government is reducing discrimination. The law should be put into effect very soon.”
Qureishi is the vice-president of the BJP Minority Morcha in Hapur. He confirmed this to Newslaundry, adding that he was previously with the Congress party before joining the BJP in 2014.
“I once mobilised thousands of burqa-clad women from Hapur in front of BJP UP president Swatantra Dev Singh,” he boasted. “No one was able to do that before me.”
On his interview about the UCC, he said, “People from DD News came to me. They needed a byte on UCC. Not only did I give a byte myself but I also got my neighbour Raheemuddin to do it.”
The Hapur video had three other interviews, apart from Qureishi’s, and Newslaundry couldn’t confirm their political affiliations. One of the interviewees, Muhammad Shakir, said on camera, “I support one law for the country. Our country should only have one law. I support honourable PM Narendra Modi in this law brought in by him.”
Parvez Ali, the DD News correspondent from Hapur, did not respond to Newslaundry’s requests for comment.
The DD News video from Bareilly comprised interviews with divorced Muslim women supporting the UCC. One of them was Farhat Naqvi, the sister of BJP politician Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. She has long campaigned against instant triple talaq and recently praised Modi for pushing for the UCC.
The video also had an interview with one Nida Khan, described as being a member of the Aala Hazrat Helping Society. Khan said, “We have written a letter to PM Narendra Modi in support of the UCC. We wrote that just like he secured our sisters’ and daughters’ futures through the Triple Talaq Bill, we want him to bring in UCC to secure our lives.”
Khan joined the BJP in January 2022. DD News did not disclose that she’s a member of the party.
Arvind Kumar, who works for DD News in Bareilly, told Newslaundry that Khan had “sent the video herself”.
Did DD News specifically ask its journalists in Uttar Pradesh to source ‘positive’ videos about the UCC? One of its correspondents, who had helped source these bytes, said, “All of this was not said. But it’s understood what will be run on a government channel. So we send only like that.”
Newslaundry emailed a questionnaire to Gargi Malik, joint director (news) of DD News UP. This report will be updated if she responds.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that DD News has passed off BJP affiliates as common citizens. Last year, ahead of the UP assembly election, it did just that for an election show called Kya Bole UP. Read all about it here.
This report was first published on Newslaundry Hindi. It was translated to English by Utkarsh Sharma.