NEW DELHI: Jamia Millia Islamia is taking legal action against Sudarshan News and its editor-in-chief, Suresh Chavhanke, for tarnishing the university’s image. The administration has written to the Union Ministry of Education against his vile and incendiary remarks.

Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar told IANS: “We have called a meeting to discuss the next course of action against the TV channel for airing mala fide content. Every student of Jamia’s Residential Coaching Academy who has cleared the UPSC exam should file an FIR against the channel for its hateful content.”

Chavhanke, in a one-minute teaser for his upcoming TV programme, branded Muslim civil servants as “infiltrators” into government. He used a communal slur against those who cleared India’s most reputed entrance exam, calling them “Jamia ke Jihadi.” The show promises to “expose these intruders” into civil administration.

Chavhanke isn’t the only one to launch a hate-building campaign against Muslims. Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News previously used similar vitriol in his primetime debates.

The promo received huge criticism across every platform on which it was shared. Chavhanke even tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the tweet, promoting it with the hateful slur #UPSC_Jihad. At the time of writing the tweet had 3 million views and been shared 14,000 times.

The Indian Police Foundation urged the Broadcasting Standards Authority to take action against this dangerous bigotry and “pure venom” shown on TV.

Vilifying and demonising Muslims is a common phenomenon on so many big media news channels in India, who make Twitter trends like #CoronaJihad, #ZameenJihad, #EducationJihad, #PopulationJihad, #EconomicJihad, which is enough to pollute the minds of a large audience.

We must not ignore such deliberate propaganda. It is similar to the Radio Rwanda level of dog-whistling that eventually led to a genocide in 1994. Legal actions must be taken under the constitutional framework of India.

In the promotional teaser, Chavhanke is seen speculating, “Imagine if the ‘jihadi of Jamia’ will be your district collectors and secretaries in ministries, what will happen then? Watch our biggest expose on ‘naukarshahi jihad’ (bureaucracy jihad) this Friday.”

His claims have no factual proof as successful Muslim candidates were only about 45 out of 829 selected in 2019, or only 5.4%.

The Sachar Committee Report of 2006 on the Educational, Social and Economic Conditions of Muslims in India found that in many social and economic parameters Muslims are below the Schedule Castes and Tribes.

Their share in IAS, IPS and IFS is extremely low as compared to other religious minorities. Muslim representation in the bureaucracy was about 3-4% in 2006 which has reportedly been stagnant in the last 14 years.

Since 1972 there have been only three Muslim toppers: Javed Usmani in 1977, Amir Subhani in 1987 and Shah Faesal in 2009. In the last four years, Muslims have earned good ranks in the UPSC examination. Athar Aamir ranked second in 2016 and Junaid Ahmad was third in 2019.

These Muslims gets a lot of media attention and are highlighted because there are only a handful of minority selections every year. This year’s result has just one Muslim candidate in the top 100: Safna Nazaruddeen, who ranked 45.

The Indian Police Services Association condemned the channel in a tweet saying, “A news story targeting candidates in civil services on the basis of religion is being promoted by Sudarshan TV. We condemn the communal and irresponsible piece of journalism.”

Jamia’s Residential Coaching Academy is a free coaching service open to students belonging to Schedule Castes or Tribes or minorities, and to women, along with hostel facilities. The top 20% are given a scholarship of ?2,000 per month on a merit plus need basis. It aims to give assistance to bright candidates irrespective of their religion. Most of these students hail from dispossessed social and economic backgrounds.

Requesting anonymity, a former teacher at RCA commented: “Such vitriolic propaganda masquerading as journalism is extremely condemnable and must not be encouraged at any cost. Jamia Millia Islamia should proceed to the court for defamation.”

Teachers and students openly criticized such recurring hate politics against the university ever since the nationwide anti-CAA protests began.

Jamia recently bagged the Number 1 spot amongst India’s central universities in the education ministry’s rankings. Around 30 students from the Residential Coaching Academy cleared the UPSC examination in 2019, of whom 14 were non-Muslims.

Suresh Chavahanke defending his tweet said:

“I don’t know if there are Hindus (in the RCA). Those opposing the word jihadi should first answer if they think it is an abuse. I maintain my stand and want to ask how their (Muslim) numbers are increasing in civil services.

“It’s because of them being given back door favour, option of choosing Islamist studies, Urdu language, etc. If my show is found unconstitutional or doesn’t meet the standard of broadcast authority, then let there be action against me.”

Chavhanke’s statement is an attempt to malign the image not only of Jamia but also the foundation of India’s Administrative Services, in the guise of freedom of press. He openly states that Muslims must be prevented from entering the bureaucracy, a blatant attempt to communalise and divide the All India Services on religious grounds.

In a strong counter a group of former civil servants wrote to the Union Home Minister and others stating, “It is completely perverse to allege that there is a conspiracy to infiltrate Muslim officers into the services, or to use terms like UPSC Jihad or Civil Services Jihad in this connection. These communal and irresponsible statements amount to hate speech and are defamatory of an entire community.”

The Delhi High Court has put a stay on the broadcast of Chavhanke’s show until September 7. However, the Supreme Court refused to order a pre-broadcast ban.

Chavhanke continued with his 52 minute long show on Friday night.

He added a new angle, asserting that Muslims had taken the space assured for Dalits in UPSC examinations.

He refused to expose the “infiltrators” until the court gives him a green light, perhaps after the next hearing on September 7.

Talha Mujibi is an independent journalist and a postgraduate student at Jamia Millia Islamia