Editor-in-Chief of Hindi channel Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke has been booked on charges of allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity between religious groups.
The Uttar Pradesh police registered a case against Mr. Chavhanke, also the Chief Managing Director of the company, after his channel telecast a programme in which he allegedly made several comments that could spoil communal harmony.
Mr. Chavhanke has been booked under Sections 153 A(1) (promoting disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 505(1)B (intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity) of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 16 of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1955 was also invoked in the FIR, a statement by the U.P. police said.
The case was registered at Kotwali police station in Sambhal district in west U.P. on the complaint of station-in-charge Brij Mohan Giri.
The police took the action after the matter was raised by prominent citizens of different communities during a meeting of the local peace committee on April 9. The angry residents registered a complaint against Sudarshan News’ show ‘Bindaas Bol’, hosted by Mr. Chavhanke, alleging that it aired programmes that promoted communal disharmony, hostility between religious groups and had an adverse impact on cordiality.
On April 10, the police reviewed videos of the programme on the web and concluded that in several of the clips, Mr. Chavhanke allegedly made statements spreading “Hindu-Muslim hostility” and promoted hatred.
The police are further probing the matter.
The channel is not new to controversy. Last year, after a former employee of the company accused Mr. Chavhanke of rape, molestation and criminal intimidation, the Noida police booked him on several clauses of the IPC.
Though Mr. Chavhanke was not available for comment, the social media profiles running under his name claimed that he would be travelling to Sambhal on April 13 to stage a protest against the FIR. His Twitter profile has launched a campaign for it under the hashtag #ChaloSambhal.
Mr. Chavhanke has often been accused of championing the cause of Hindutva through his programmes. His Twitter bio appeals for public support against his “struggle” against the “jehadi media.” His cover picture on Twitter features him with U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.