Thiruvananthapuram: In a move reminiscent of Emergency, the Modi government has ordered two leading Malayalam news channels Asianet and MediaOne off the air for 48 hours for what it considers as 'provocative' reporting by them on the Dellhi riots.
Both channels have been showing blank screen since 7.30pm following the clamp down by the Information and Broadcasting ministry. The channels said they were not even warned before the drastic action.
Both channels have been truthfully reporting on the Delhi riots, which happened to highlight the inaction by the Delhi Police and the involvement of RSS elements in the violence that rocked the national capital.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists has called for a demonstration against the arbitrary action by the Central government. Various political parties and their leaders have condemned the undemocratic action and described it as a move to extend the media clamp down employed in Kashmir to the rest of the country.
The I&B order alleged that the reporting by Asianet News could have 'incited violence and posed danger to maintenance of law and order situation, particularly when the situation is already highly volatile and charged up and riots are taking place in the area'.
The order further states that Asianet reported about rioters blocking commuters and attacking them for their religion, attacking houses of Muslims in Hindu majority areas and rioters firing at each other with slogans of Jai Sri Ram and Azadi in the air.
“It appeared that the telecast of the reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner that highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. The 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. The channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS,” the I&B ministry order sent to MediaOne said,
The order claimed that the Delhi incidents had been shown in a manner that highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. It also objected to the channels alleging failure of the police to stop violent attacks on Muslims.
"While reporting such critical incidents, the channel should have taken utmost care and should have reported it in a balanced way. Such reporting could enhance the communal disharmony across the country when the situation is highly volatile," the order said.
CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran described the Modi government action as an assault on the freedom of the press and as worse than what happened during Emergency.