NDTV hit by surgical strike
Posted October 9, 2016on:
Barkha Dutt of NDTV interviewed P Chidambaram, who was Minister of Home and Finance in the Manmohan Singh government and a member of Cabinet Committee of Security. The interview was to be aired on NDTV in the evening of October 6 and extracts of the interview were played on the channel throughout the day. Suddenly, NDTV decided not to telecast the interview because Chidambaram was critical of the Modi government’s handling of the surgical strikes by the Indian army across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir.
The same evening, NDTV’s editorial director Sonia Singh told NDTV’s journalists throughout the country about the channel’s ‘new editorial policy’ which, in nutshell, was that ‘we have decided we will not give space to the bizarre political bickering that has broken out on surgical strikes…’
In an elaborate article in ‘The Wire’, Siddharth Varadarajan says that according to the extracts played out by the channel, Chidambaram had only criticised statements of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made after the surgical strikes. Varadarajan says that dropping Chidambaram’s interview wasn’t the only act of censorship at the channel that day. Editors were instructed that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s statement in Uttar Pradesh about Modi trading in the blood of Indian soldiers was not to be run on the channel either.
The sorry state of the media under the Modi-Shah dispensation is fully explained by the questions ‘The Wire’ sent to Co-Founder and Chairperson of NDTV Radhika Roy and Sonia Singh. Varadarajan says that in her reply, Radhika Roy provided only a general explanation of NDTV’s policy, but did not answer specific questions, especially those on Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Manohar Parrikar and Amit Shah. Some of the questions were:
*What prompted NDTV to announce a new editorial policy as mentioned in its message ‘India above Politics’?
*Was it true that the decision to not air Rahul Gandhi’s (statement) was taken pursuant to the new editorial policy?
*Extracts of P. Chidambaram’s interview to Barkha Dutt were played during the day on October 6 but the full interview was finally never broadcast. Is it true that the decision was taken in keeping with NDTV’s new editorial policy? Was Chidambaram saying things that compromise national security?
*Doesn’t NDTV’s refusal to telecast statements by a former home minister or by the leader of the main opposition party amount to censorship of the news on your part?
*Contrary to your stated policy of not encouraging politics and political debate to compromise national security, NDTV showed BJP leader Amit Shah’s press conference today live. Is this because, in your channel’s view, his remarks do not constitute a politicisation of the surgical strikes, and of national security?
*Raksha mantri Manohar Parrikar recently made a statement about how the Indian army realised its strength only after the current government came to power: “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar said. In your view, is this an example of political debate that does not threaten to compromise national security?
*Will criticism of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or the use of pellet guns against civilians by the security forces in Kashmir, be allowed on NDTV in the future?