New Delhi: Sudarshan TV on Thursday defended in the Supreme Court its programme on alleged infiltration of Muslims in civil services, saying it was not against their entry but has used the term ‘UPSC Jehad’ based on information that ‘Zakat Foundation’ received funds from various terror-linked organisations.
The top court had restrained the channel on Tuesday from telecasting the episodes of ‘Bindas Bol’ for two days saying that the intent of the episodes prima facie appeared to vilify the Muslim community.
In an affidavit, Suresh Chavhanke, Editor-in-Chief of the Sudarshan TV, sought the lifting of the stay from airing the remaining six episodes and said that there was no justification to continue the pre-telecast/prior restraint direction.
The affidavit said: The Answering Respondent (Chavhanke) has used the words UPSC Jehad because it has come to the 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 .
Zakat Foundation provides training and study materials to Muslim students who aspire to join civil services.
When it comes to light through various sources that funds contributed by tainted organizations are being used to facilitate people joining UPSC, there is a serious issue requiring public debate, discussion and scrutiny…
There is no statement or message in the four episodes broadcast that members of a particular community should not join UPSC. UPSC is an open competitive examination and members of every community may participate in the entrance examination and qualify.., the journalist said in his 91-page affidavit.
In the response to the plea filed by lawyer Firoz Iqbal Khan, seeking banning of the programmes, the channel said the thrust of its episodes was that there appeared to be a conspiracy which needed “to be investigated by NIA or CBI as the terror linked organizations were apparently funding the Foundation in India, which in turn has been supporting Muslim UPSC aspirants.
Terrorism is a global menace. There are several international organizations that provide monetary support to extremists. The spread of extremist philosophy is undesirable and it is imperative that cross border funding that could encourage the spread of extremism should be stamped out, the affidavit said and referred to the offshore organizations which are funding the foundations.
Referring to records including the FCRA papers of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the affidavit said that the Zakat Foundation has received donations from various organizations such as ‘Muslim Aid (UK)’ and moreover it has links with Zakir Naik as well.
Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation has been banned under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA). The Cabinet note regarding the ban said that Zakir Naik has been promoting enmity between religious groups and inspiring Muslim youth in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts, the reply affidavit said.
Calling himself an investigative journalist, Chavhanke referred to various documents and said that it appeared that Zakat Foundation of India has received funds from terror tied Zakat Foundation of America (Khalil Demir) who has a direct/indirect link with Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) and Turkish Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) both of which have terror links.
Reports also stated that Turkish Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) distributed aid to the Salafist group Ahrar al Sham, which fought alongside ISIS and the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
The Sudarshan TV journalist said that the minority community has been taking quota benefits of the OBC and the minority scheme simultaneously and the same being a political and social issue can be debated in the media.
The top court would hear on Friday the plea which has raised grievance over the programme whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’.
Meanwhile, the Centre has also filed an affidavit in the matter and said if the apex court decides on the issue of media regulation then such an exercise should be undertaken with the digital media first as it has faster reach and information has the potential to go viral due to applications like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
The government has told the apex court that sufficient framework and judicial pronouncements exist for the electronic and the print media. (PTI)