The Editors Guild of India on Saturday issued a statement condemning Bharatiya Janata Party Information Technology Cell chief Amit Malviya’s attack on journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.
Malviya had on Friday posted a poll on his Twitter account, in which he asked people whether Sardesai should handle public relations operations for the Islamic State terrorist group. The options were “Agree”, “Strongly Agree”. “Disagree” and “He is irrelevant”.
The Editors Guild on Saturday said it has noted “with deep dismay and concern the deplorable act of Amit Malviya...in which he conducted an offensive, McCarthyist social media ‘poll’ on noted journalist Rajdeep Sardesai”. “The poll on Twitter is not only tasteless, it has also questioned the integrity and patriotism of Mr Sardesai, who is a journalist of standing and a former President of the Editors Guild of India.”
The guild said that the Twitter poll, by a national head of the BJP, also raises doubts about the party’s commitment to healthy debate and dissent without allowing disagreement to degenerate into abuse. The guild urged Malviya to immediately delete the poll, and asked the BJP to warn him.
In response, Sardesai said he was thankful to the Editors Guild and to his fellow journalists for their support, and added that he would give Malviya a New Year gift. “Let me reiterate: I bear zero ill will to Mr @amitmalaviya,” he tweeted. “Hopefully, we can put a close to name-calling and libellous attacks. It’s time for samvaad: will gift my book to BJP IT cell head as a new year gift!”
Later on Friday, Malviya called Sardesai a bigot for seeing the tricolour and pictures of Mahatma Gandhi “in protests cheered and led by Islamist slogans, leading to violence, destruction of public property and temples”.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised as being discriminatory for excluding Muslims.
There have been nationwide protests against the Act, and many incidents of violent clashes between the police and the protestors. At least 25 civilians have been killed, 18 of them in Uttar Pradesh alone, with most dying of firearm injuries.