Published On : Fri, Nov 4th, 2016

Are scary days of an (un) declared emergency on us? NDTV today, who next?

ndtv-india

Nagpur : The happenings in the country are getting more scary by the day under the ‘Modi Raj’. Ironically, he brings up the emergency declared by Congress’ Indira Gandhi at every opportunity to warn people off from bringing Congress ever back to power, but at least in Mrs. Gandhi’s case she had used constitutional powers vested in her to declare a state of emergency formally. What is happening now with furious frequency is a state of ‘undeclared emergency’ when anything unexpected and unusual can happen!

Just look at the happenings we have seen unfold in the last few days –

The elected, by a HUGE popular vote, CM of a crucial state like Delhi, which the whole world watches, is not allowed to move freely on the streets of Delhi by the very same Delhi police. Why? Because they are not answerable to him but the unelected Lt. Governor who seems to be shadow boxing for the Union Home Minister. The police can with impunity and completely illegally confine him in his vehicle for hours together without citing any reason.

The V.P. of the main opposition party is arrested and put in jail twice on the same day for trying to visit the grieving relatives of a dead soldier who committed suicide ‘upset’ with the Govt. for a reason. He is not happy with the pension he is receiving which is not consistent with the principles of OROP they have been demanding for a long time.

That day this drama unfolds in Delhi, the TV channels and media that are ‘Modi friendly’ toe the government line that Congress and AAP are creating tamasha out of a tragedy for petty political gain.

The NDTV is the only channel that asks the sober and logical question – ” what is the harm of anyone visiting anyone in a free, democratic country?”

Within two days, an unprecedented thing happens. An unimaginable thing. Citing an old coverage of an incident by NDTV – that was almost 100% identical to how others had covered it – a ‘farman’ is passed by a body of Ministers that NDTV must be penalized by being put off air for 24 hours.

(We are not even bringing up the very suspicious death of 8 under trial SIMI suspects in BJP ruled M.P. here because that story needs to be highlighted and investigated on its own with its horrifying details).

The country as a whole, and the journalistic fraternity is shocked. The Editors Guild, an organization representing the editors of various newspapers and periodicals says ” The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded.”

The guild termed the government order a reminder of the Emergency. It said, “The decision to take the channel off the air for a day 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. This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.

There are various legal remedies available to both a citizen and a state in the Court of Law to have action taken for any irresponsible media coverage. Imposing a ban without resorting to judicial intervention or oversight violates the fundamental principles of freedom and justice. “

The Broadcast Editors’ Association also demanded immediate withdrawal of the ban. A statement issued by the body said, ” Broadcast Editors’ Association expresses deep concern at the govt’s decision to ban NDTV India for a day. Imposing a ban is a violation of freedom of expression and the decision should be withdrawn immediately. BEA would go into the issue in detail and come out with a comprehensive report on it.”

What is happening here? First, completely brain washed kind of sounding people hound ‘neutral and upright’ journalists like Barkha Datt and Rajdeep Sardesai calling them ‘sickulars’ and presstitutes… phrases proudly coined by a Minister called V.K. Singh who used to be our Army General, no less.

Now the same Barkha’s channel is muzzled ( when we all think it is the pugnacious Arnab who deserves this treatment ) and when Rajdeep tweets about it, he is horribly trawled.

What else is emergency if not this? Where your freedom to speak is curtailed first of all, next your freedom of movement, and then, as in the case of Bhopal… your life itself?