A probe committee set up by the Uttar Pradesh government has indicted Hindi news channel Aaj Tak and its English channel Headlines Today for promoting enmity between different groups during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots by flashing a fake “sting operation” concerning Azam Khan.
In September 2013, the television group had through a “sting operation” alleged that Samajwadi Party cabinet Minister Azam Khan had telephoned police officials to go easy on prime accused in the molestation case in Muzaffarnagar, which proved to be the trigger for the large-scale violence. Coming months before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the coverage raised questions about Mr. Khan and the SP government’s complicity in the communal violence. The government had, however, dismissed the “sting operation” as fake.
A seven-member committee headed by SP MLA Satish Kumar Nigam on Tuesday recommended that senior journalists of the television group Aaj Tak and Headlines Today —shouldbe charged for inciting communal disharmony during September 2013.
The 350-page report was placed in the UP Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday will come up for discussion on February 23.
The committee has recommended action against many staffers of the channel, including Managing Editor Supriya Prasad, Headlines Today Managing Editor Rahul Kanwal, Editor Punya Prasun Bajpai, reporter Harish Sharma and anchor Gaurav Sawant.
The report suggests that they will be booked under various clauses of the Indian Penal code, including 153A, (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (outraging religious feelings), 463 and 463 (preparing false documents or electronic records) and 469 (forgery). Charges should also be framed under Sections 200 and 202 of the CrPC, the report said.
The probe has also held the channel guilty of violation of various clauses of the Cable Television Network (regulation) Act 1995, while also indicting the channel for contempt as it refrained from sharing raw footage with the panel. The government has also urged the Centre to act against the channel for violation of Section 20 of the Television Network (regulation) Act 1995.
The committee was constituted on September 24, 2013, after opposition parties created a ruckus over the “sting operation” flashed by the channel.
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