The shahi imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi, Syed Ahmed Bukhari has served a defamation notice to Republic TV’s promoters including its founder and former journalist, Arnab Goswami for what he said was malicious reporting on the mosque.
In his legal notice, Bukhari demanded an on-air apology from the channel and removal of any video content currently existing on the web platforms owned by Republic TV within 15 days.
In its programme on 30 August, Republic TV had claimed that electricity supply to the historic mosque was cut by the Delhi Electricity Department due to non-payments of bills. The channel had run this story repeatedly on TV while also using its official Twitter handle to tweet about it.
Its tweet had read, “Imam Bukhari has money to buy luxurious cars but can’t pay electricity bills?”
The report turned out to be false prompting the Republic TV to remove the link from its website.
Imam Bukhari said the story was false, baseless, defamatory and malicious and was done to defame him and Jama Masjid as the power of mosque was never cut by the electric supply department.
He told Caravan Daily, “I came to know from my acquaintances that Republic TV has been telecasting a report regarding me and the Jama Masjid. I see a design in it as it was telecast on the very day when the supporters of Baba Gurmeet Singh alias Ram Rahim had unleashed a reign of terror after he was convicted by a special court on rape charges.”
The shahi Imam added, “The channel and its editor are known for Muslim bashing and a tilt towards the saffron groups and its ideology. There is no doubt that the news story and tweets were intended to degrade and damage my reputation in general and the Muslim community, in particular as the channel did not bother to verify the facts before airing the story.”
Republic TV was founded by Goswami after he was sacked by Times Now, where he worked as channel’s editor-in-chief in November 2016. Two of its key investors are the NDA MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar and former Infosys executive, Mohandas Pai, a known supporter of RSS and Prine Minister Narendra Modi.
Since it’s launch the channel has only been busy attacking the opposition parties while avoiding criticism for the central government.