With the Opposition and media criticising the government action against NDTV India, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Saturday it was a security-related issue and the channel appeared to have violated guidelines for coverage of terror attacks.
“It is not a ban. They have been asked to put off the channel temporarily for a day,” Parrikar said. “When you show the anti-terror operation live, the handlers of terrorists get the information.... It appears that these guidelines were violated by the channel during the Pathakot attack coverage. It appears like that,” he added.
The minister added, “The guidelines on airing the live anti-terrorist operations were issued by the UPA government after the (26/11) 2008 Mumbai attack. In last five years, there were 21 such incidents wherein different channels violated the guidelines.”
The I&B Ministry had issued an order saying that NDTV India should be taken off air for a day on November 9 after an inter-ministerial panel constituted by the ministry recommended this action over the broadcaster’s coverage of the Pathankot terror attack in January.
However, the ban on the leading Hindi TV channel has drawn sharp condemnation from opposition parties and media bodies which called it “shocking and authoritarian” and reminiscent of Emergency days.
Rallying behind the news channel, the Editors Guild of India, the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA), the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and the All India Newspaper Editors Conference (AINEC) all condemned the government decision.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar flayed the government’s decision, terming it as an “insult to freedom of expression.”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) asked for an immediate withdrawal of the ban.