“UPSC Jihad” and the Everyday Bigotry of Suresh Chavhanke

Social Commentary

“UPSC Jihad” and the Everyday Bigotry of Suresh Chavhanke

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The editor-in-chief of Sudarshan TV, Suresh Chavhanke, who has been known to spread misinformation and bigotry on his channel for years, has been caught in the eye of a storm once again for an episode on Muslims “infiltrating” government services. Calling the show rabid, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it cannot air for now.

“It appears that the object of the programme is to vilify the Muslim community and make it responsible for an insidious attempt to infiltrate the civil services,” said a three-judge bench. Two of the nine episodes of the show Bindas Bol have already aired on Sudarshan TV, but no more.

The controversy began last month, after Chavhanke declared, in a clip he shared on Twitter, that the number of Muslims appearing and passing the UPSC exams is “suddenly” increasing, a trend that he went on to term “naukarshahi jihad”.

Tagging both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS in his post, the anchor went on to ask how his viewers would feel if “Jamia ke jihadi” were put in charge of important positions, drawing immense flak from those familiar with his past work.

Activist Saket Ghokhale had filed a complaint against Suresh Chavhanke.

Several others called for Chavhanke’s account to be suspended, and for his tweet to be reported.

However, this is not the first time Chavhanke has made such outlandish allegations targeting Muslims. The editor is known, in fact, to have declared India to be a Hindu Rashtra multiple times, and proudly claims that his channel is meant only for Hindus.

He has also in the past been caught brandishing swords and guns in public, and was even arrested back in 2017 for inciting communal violence in Uttar Pradesh after airing an inflammatory programme on his channel.

As recently as March, the anchor made headlines once again after he questioned the way coronavirus clusters were colour coded. He said on Twitter that the most-affected zones should be coloured green and not red, and that the coronavirus-free zones should be coded in orange, a colour associated with the Sangh parivar.

That same month, he took an “oath” to carry out an “economic boycott” of all “rioters” and “traitors” in this country while addressing a room full of MLAs in Jharkhand. And two years prior to that, in 2018, he attempted to connect a violent incident in UP’s Bulandshahr to a Muslim congregation over 40 kilometres away from the site.

An old Newslaundry report has also surfaced after Chavhanke’s latest video, revealing the full extent of his bigotry, including claims that he once created a fake account posing as an imam so he could argue with himself on Twitter, and that his channel was deliberately attempting to portray Muslims as extremists.

The report also claimed that his channel was sponsored by the Uttar Pradesh government and hence supported financially by taxpayers.

If that wasn’t proof enough of Chavhanke’s bigotry, he also once put out an advertisement for job openings at Sudarshan TV that said Muslims could not apply for the position. With his latest allegations of “UPSC jihad” now earning the ire of the Supreme Court, let’s hope we have seen the last of such hate-mongering.