Update: Facing widespread criticism, the government has lifted the ban. The ban on Asianet News was lifted at 1.30 am and on Media One at 9.30 am on Saturday, PTI quoted an I&B ministry official as saying.
The two channels had written to the ministry seeking revocation of the bans, following which it was lifted, the news agency reported.
Asianet News, interestingly, is owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP member of the Rajya Sabha.
The Narendra Modi government has blocked Malayalam news channels Asianet News and Media One for 48 hours for airing certain visuals of last week’s communal violence in Delhi.
Strangely, one of the reasons cited in the information and broadcasting ministry’s order banning Media One is this: “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. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS.”
RSS is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organisation of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Such telecast could incite violence and pose 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 with reports of killings and bloodbath,” the order states, “and it could also stoke the feelings of anger, hatred and animosity among the communities and hurt their religious sentiments which could ultimately result in escalation of violence.”
A separate order ued by the ministry charges Asianet News with showing the carnage “in a manner which highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community”. This, the ministry claims, “could enhance communal disharmony across the country when the situation is highly volatile”.
Reporting by both the channels violated provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, the ministry concluded. And, by way of punishment, banned their “transmission or re-transmission” for 48 hours “on any platform throughout India with effect from 19.30 on March 6 to 19.30 on March 8, 2020”.