Modi Govt Bans 2 Malayalam Channels Over Delhi Riots Reporting: 'Question RSS, critical of cops' (Photo Credit: Reuters Photo)
Two Malayalam news channels – Asianet News and Media One – were banned by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry for 48 hours for their ‘biased’ reporting on the Delhi Riots. The order by the ministry said that the channels ‘questioned RSS’ and alleged the Delhi Police of ‘inaction’. Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar has not made any comment on the order. However, both channels have slammed the order and stated that it was a brazen attempt by the Centre to muzzle the free speech. Reacting on the ban, MediaOne TV’s Editor-in-Chief CL Thomas said, “I&B Ministry's ban on MediaOne channel is unfortunate and condemnable. This is a blatant attack on free and fair reporting. MediaOne will fight legally against this unprecedented and undemocratic action by I&B ministry.”
"It appeared that telecast of reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner which highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. Channel's reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters. It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS," the order by the I&B ministry said. The ban came into force from 7:30 pm on Friday for next 48 hours. However, Asianet News is back on air as several Twitter users posted screenshots on Saturday morning. The order by the I&B ministry said that both the channels have violated provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
Last time the I&B ministry had issued a ban on news channel was in 2016. NDTV India was slapped with 24-hour ban for the Pathankot attack coverage. However, the Centre has struck down the order.
The Delhi violence that erupted on February 24 has claimed 53 lives so far. Over 300 people were injured in the riots. The communal violence is the worst that the national capital has witnessed since 1984 anti-Sikh riots that killed over 3,000 people. The Delhi Police have been accused of not acting on times to prevent the riots that coincided with US President Donald Trump's state visit to India. Under attack from the Opposition, the Modi government is likely to make a statement in Parliament after Holi on March 11. The Congress is demanding Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation over the riots.
(With agency inputs)