South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

An Inter-ministerial committee of the Information and Broadcasting ministry had recommended on Thursday that a leading Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

The ministry has asked the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on 9 November. The Committee felt that such srucial information, which was revealed by the channel, could have been picked up by terrorist handlers.

The committee, in its order, observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.

The channel, while confirming the receipt of the order, said that its “coverage was particularly balanced”.

The Editors Guild of India condemned the government’s move and said that the I&B Ministry’s decision is “a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.”

Now, even the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the ban and demanded that the ban be withdrawn.

Here is the full statement by the Mumbai Press Club:

The Mumbai Press club which represents over 2,500 journalists, strongly and unequivocally condemns the ban by the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) on the Hindi news channel NDTV India for purportedly airing “sensitive information” in respect of the Pathankot attack by terror groups near the border. The Club also demands that the ban, imposed for one day on 9 November, should be withdrawn forthwith.

NDTV India in its response to a show cause by the government has said that channel did not report anything which other channels and newspapers had not covered simultaneously. It is therefore mischievous to singles out a particular channel for such penal action.

Though there are various legal options available for the government in the Indian Court of Law for any irresponsible media coverage, the I&B ministry action of banning against a specific TV channel that has been critical of the government, and has done serious ground reporting on the views of the common man, does not augur well for freedom of expression of the country.

The I&B ministry’s order imposing the ban is vague and also does not disclose what specific clips or information can be termed ‘sensitive’ and ‘useful to the enemy’.

Any penal actions like the ban of NDTV India that infringes on media operating and reporting freely will be stoutly resisted by media persons everywhere.

Dharmendra Jore
Mumbai Press Club



Updated On: Nov 4, 2016