Aiming to clamp down on the unauthorised airing of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik’s Peace TV channel, information & broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday that an advisory has been sent to all states and district magistrates to remain vigilant and report any illegal broadcast.
He said citizens, too, could report unauthorized airing of the channel by tweeting to the ministry.
As it is, there is not much the Centre can do directly to prevent it, except forwarding the complaint to the concerned state and district administrations, which could take action against cable operators.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Naik’s channel might have been refused license by the UPA government in December 2012, but he was far from being a persona non grata for the government. In February 2013, then minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan forwarded a complaint from the Islamic Research Foundation (Naik is its president) to then I&B minister Manish Tewari, which said Naik was being portrayed as a “sympathiser of terrorism” by Sudarshan TV.
Rahman wrote to Tewari that the IRF had sought “protection from a campaign by Sudarshan TV and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti to allegedly defame Dr Naik”.
“…The above mentioned news agencies have seemingly resorted to project Dr Naik as a sympathiser of terrorism for vested interests. I would, therefore, request you to kindly look into the matter in order to prevent any confrontation between communities…,” the letter read.
Khan told HT that the letter was forwarded to the “concerned ministry”, since as minority affairs minister his office received many such representations.
“We have not been in touch, I am neither an admirer nor follower (of Naik),” Khan said.
“It was the UPA government that in December 2012 had proscribed 24 TV channels, including #PeaceTV for anti-India propaganda & hate speech,” Tewari had tweeted after the recent controversy broke out.