Zee’s Zindagi channel was under fire for airing Pakistani drama serial Dastaan, after complaints from some viewers who claimed that the content promoted Pakistan’s narrative of the partition, Times of India reported.
Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC), headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, has issued a notice to Zindagi and summoned its executives for a hearing on May 22. A Zee official said they had not received the notice so far.
Times of India quoted sources as saying that the Information & Broadcast Ministry has not taken any action so far but has forwarded the complaints it received to the BCCC. Keeping in view the “sensitivity” of the matter, BCCC has asked the channel to respond to the complaints. The channel could be asked to modify the content or desist from re-telecast.
Dastaan is a love story in the backdrop of Partition based on author Razia Butt’s book Bano, and was being aired on Zindagi channel after the name was changed to Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam. The serial stars Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan along with Mehreen Raheel and morning show host Sanam Baloch. The main criticism from viewers has been that the content is inflammatory because it shows partition only from Pakistan’s point of view and therefore paints Indians as villains.
According to a survey by Times of India, while some viewers have complained that Sikhs and Hindus are portrayed as the perpetrators of atrocities on Muslims, others weren’t offended by the serial.
The complaints were varied in nature: one claimed that a few episodes highlighted Indian Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah as heroes fighting the Congress against discrimination of Muslims in the country. The main villian of the story is a Sikh who abducts a Muslim girl, and then repeatedly rapes her, forces her to convert and bear a child out of wedlock.
The soap finished its 23-episode run in April. Describing it as a “beautiful, timeless” love story, a Zindagi channel executive said that the response to the serial was very encouraging. “The soap could be set against the backdrop of any country that underwent the harsh reality of partition. The show was telecast as Dastan in Pakistan and we have made necessary changes to telecast it for the Indian audience. We have followed all broadcast guidelines,” he said.
Times of India quoted its sources also as saying that the serial may have been edited heavily keeping Indian sentiments in mind but the theme itself was provocative and no amount of editing could change that.