Following a notice from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, Lokshahi news channel, which aired a report concerning an explicit video allegedly involving BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, has been suspended from broadcasting for a 72-hour period, as confirmed by the channel's Editor-in-Chief, Kamlesh Sutar.
The channel ceased transmission at 7 pm on Friday. Sutar stated that they intend to address the matter through legal means.
Earlier this month, Mumbai police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Sutar and a YouTuber for their alleged broadcast of the video. Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, during the recently concluded monsoon session of the state legislature, initiated an inquiry in response to concerns raised by opposition leaders about incidents of sexual harassment against women. The investigation into this matter is currently being conducted by the crime branch and remains ongoing.
Editor Kamlesh Sutar, in a video statement released on social media, said, “I wanted to give an important update to our viewers. The I&B ministry had given us a notice earlier regarding a story on Somaiya following which we had presented our say. Now we have received a notice asking us to take the channel off air for 72 hours. From 7 pm onwards, for the next 72 hours, you will not be able to see (our channel). We are taking legal advice.”
“We were hoping that we were given an opportunity to present our say. Even as the probe is still on, this feels like we are being punished. We will fight legally. We would have felt it fairer had we been given more time. We received a notice at 6.13 pm that from 7 pm you should take the channel off air. We will soon be back," he went on to add.
Sutar further added, “We are hoping to get a new order from the court. Lokshahi will continue doing its work. Let an inquiry happen and let it come out with its findings. There is already an FIR against us. At Lokshahi, we are not scared as it is our democracy.”
In a separate post on X, formerly Twitter, Sutar posted a photo of himself with white band on his mouth, along with a picture of notice from the I&B ministry.
Opposition leader come in support of Lokshahi
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut, reacting to the development, compared it with an Emergency.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, extending his support to channel's editor Kamlesh Sutar, said, "Don't worry Kamleshji we are all with you."