Full text of Zee News staffer Vishwa Deepak’s resignation letter
‘It feels like we are govt spokespersons’: Full text of Zee News staffer Vishwa Deepak’s resignation letter
Following is the post put up by Vishwa Deepak on Facebook, in which he announced his decision to resign from Zee News following the coverage of JNU protests-
As journalists, we raise questions about others but never about ourselves. We decide everyone else’s responsibility but never ours. We are called the fourth pillar of democracy but are we, our institutions , our thinking and our “modus operandi” democratic enough ? This is not just my question. It is a question everybody is asking.
The way JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was framed in the name of “nationalism” and was proved “anti-national” through media trials is a dangerous tendency. We, as journalists, have a responsibility to ask questions to those in authority… In the history of journalism, whatever positive has been achieved is a result of such questions.
To ask or not to ask questions is a matter of personal choice. But I believe what is personal is also political. There comes a time when you have to choose between your professional responsibilities and socio-political convictions and take a side. I have chosen to go with the latter and due to differences on these grounds with my organisation Zee News I have resigned with effect from 19 February.
My resignation is dedicated to the country’s lakhs and crores of “Kanhaiya”s and those friends from JNU who struggle and make sacrifices with eyes full of beautiful dreams.
Dear ZEE News,
After 1 year 4 months and 4 days, it’s high time that I should leave your organization. I should have left it much before, but if I don’t leave, then I will never be able to forgive myself.
What I want to say next has not been stated out of emotion or anger. It is a well-considered statement. Besides being a journalist, I am a citizen of this country, where the poison of nationalism is being spread and the country is being pushed towards a civil war. My civil liability and professional responsibility says that I should stop this poison. I know my efforts are like crossing the sea with the help of a boat but I am keen to make the effort. On this thought, on the issue of blind nationalism over JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, I resign from my post. I want this resignation to be accepted without any personal malice.
Indeed, this it is not personal. It is a matter of professional responsibility. In the end, it is a matter of sense of responsibility and patriotism too. With regret, I say that on these three parameters, by being associated with you, as an organization, in the last year, I have failed many times.
After May 2014, when Narendra Modi has become the PM, almost every newsroom of the country has been communalized, but here, situations are even more catastrophic. I apologise for using such a heavy word. But I have no other word except this. Why is it that all news is written by adding a ‘Modi angle’? Stories are written keeping in mind how it will benefit the agenda of the Modi government. We have seriously started doubting that we are journalists. It feels like we are the spokespersons of the government, or that we are supari killers. Modi is the PM of our country, and is my PM too. But being a journalist, it is difficult to accept so much Modi devotion. My conscience is starting to rebel against me, it seems like I am sick. Behind every story there is an agenda, behind every show there is an effort to call the Modi government ‘great’. Wanting to attack the opposition in every argument. No word other than attack or war is acceptable. What is all this? Sometimes I stop and think that I am getting mad. Why are we being made so inferior and immoral? After studying from the country’s top media institutions and working at Aaj Tak and BBC, Deutsche Welle (Germany) , the situation is such that people have started calling me a journalist from ‘Chhee News’. Our integrity is being questioned; who will take the responsibility for all this?
There are so many things to say…A campaign is being constantly running against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and is still running. Why?
Basic policies like electricity-water, education and the odd-even policy were also questioned. Disagreement with Keriwal disagreement and criticism is something that everyone has a right to. If I start making a list of stories done against Kejriwal then I think many pages will be filled. I want to know if journalistic principles and ethics hold a certain value or not?
In the Rohith Vemula suicide case, first he was called as a Dalit scholar, then a Dalit student. At least, the story should have been written properly. The ABVP and Bandaru Dattatreya need to answer for Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
I remember that we questioned stellar writers across all regional languages including Uday Prakash when they started returning their Satitya Academi Awards on the debate on intolerance. Lakhs of people read Uday Prakash’s books. He is the pride of the language that we speak everyday, and use in our workplace. His writings portray our lives, our dreams, and our struggle. But we are keen to prove that all these things were pre-planned. That hurt then, but I still tolerated it somehow.
But till when should I tolerate this situation and for how long?
I can’t sleep well these days. I am anxious. Perhaps this is the result of a feeling of guilt. The biggest blot that an individual can have on him is that he is anti-national. However, the question is as journalists, do we have the right to distribute the degree of anti-national? Isn’t it the job of the court?
We have tagged many students of JNU as ‘anti-national’ including Kanhaiya. If among them one gets killed tomorrow, who will take the responsibility? We have not only created an atmosphere for someone’s murder and the destruction of a few families but also created a platform to spread riots and cause a civil war. What kind of patriotism is this? What kind of journalism is this?
Are we the BJP or RSS’S mouthpieces, for us to do whatever they say? A video which did not even have the slogan of ‘Pakistan zindabad’ was still aired continuously. How did we blindly believe that these voices which came in the dark were of Kanhaiya or his friends? Instead of ‘Bhartiya Court zindabad,’ they heard Pakistan zindabad and spoilt some peoples career, hopes and led their families to destruction. It would have been good if we would have let the investigating agencies conduct a probe and then waited for the results.
People are threatening Umar Khalid’s sister. People are calling her a traitor’s sister.
Isn’t this our responsibility? Kanyaiya not once but repeatedly said that he doesn’t promote anti-nationalist slogans, but nobody heard him, because we were toing the line of the NDA government. Have we ever seen Kanhaiya’s house properly? Kanhaiya’s home is a painful symbol of the country’s farmers and the common man. It represents expectations of the country which are being buried every moment. But we have become blind. In my area too, there are many houses like this. In those broken walls and already fragile lives, we have injected the poison of nationalism without even thinking what the result would be. if Kanhaiya’s paralyzed father dies of shock, will we be responsible?
If The Indian Express would not have done a story, the country wouldn’t have been able to find out from where he gets the inspiration to talk. Rama Naga and others are in the same situation. Struggling against poverty, these boys are studying with the help of subsidies given to JNU. But the commercials interests have ruined their career.
We may disagree with their politics or their ideas, but how can they become traitors? How can we do the court’s job? Is it a mere coincidence that the Delhi Police in its FIR has mentioned Zee News?
It is said that we are in collusion with the Delhi Police. What answer do we give to this allegation?
Why do we hate JNU? I believe that JNU is a beautiful garden of modern values, democracy, diversity and co-existence of opposing views. And people call us traitors.
I would like know- JNU against the law or the BJP leader who barged into the court premises and thrashed the left-wing leader? While the BJP leader and his supporters were mercilessly beating Amique Jamai, the CPI activist, the cops remained mute spectators. Even as the live coverage showed OP Sharma clearly hitting Jamai, we were carrying the news as ‘allegations of violence against OP Sharma’. When I asked why we used the word ‘allegation’ when the video is self-explanatory, I was told that the order has been issued from the higher-ups. How can our ‘higher-ups’ stoop so low? It is understandable when it comes to Modi but we have to now be careful of not writing anything against AVBP leaders and BJP leaders like OP Sharma?
I have started hating my existence, my journalism and my helplessness. Did I leave other jobs and decide to be a journalist for all this? I doubt it.
Now, I just have two options; either to quit journalism or excuse myself from these situations. I am opting for the latter. I have not yet declared anything; I have just raised some questions pertaining to my profession and identity. No matter how small, but it is still my accountability-not so much towards others, but more towards me. I am convinced that I won’t be hired elsewhere. I am aware that if I stick around I might be able to earn up to lakh rupees. My salary is good, but these situations are demanding a lot of sacrifices, which I am not willing to do. Being brought up in a middle-class family, I am fully aware that you have to face a lot of difficulties with a modest income but still I don’t want to suppress my conscience.
I am repeating myself that I don’t have any personal vendetta against anybody. These matters are purely related to editorial policy. I hope they are understood in the same way. I would also like to mention that if any media house has the right to declaim its right-wing tendencies then even we as individuals are entitled to talk about our political inclinations. Being a journalist, it is my responsibility to have an unbiased approach. But as an individual and a citizen, I have chosen the leftist ideology. This is my identity. On a final note, I am thankful for the year-long struggle that I have been through in Zee News, which has helped me make good friends.