Indian entertainment channels remained blocked in Nepal on Friday following a protest call by a Maoist faction over Zee TV claiming Buddha was born in Nepal.
The All Nepal Revolutionary Cine Worker Association, which is associated with Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, had urged cable operators to block all Indian channels for 24 hours starting 8:00 am on Friday.
Protesting against Zee TV’s claim in its serial ‘Buddha’ that the founder of Buddhism was born in India, the association has also called for an indefinite ban on the channel.
“If we self-respecting Nepalis don’t oppose such naked Indian expansionism then it could threaten our national honour and dignity,” the association stated in a release.
Though nearly two dozen entertainment channels remained off air other Indian channels based on news, movies, music and religious discourse were not blocked despite the demand by the Maoist faction.
The first episode of the serial ‘Buddha’ telecast on Sunday was blocked across Nepal by over 300 cable operators for fears of hurting sentiments of millions of Nepali viewers.
In its website promoting the serial Zee TV had claimed Buddha was born in India. Actor Kabir Bedi who is part of the serial had also made the same mistake in a promotional programme.
Historical records state Buddha was born in Lumbini located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal. Even UNESCO has accepted this fact while granting world heritage site status to Lumbini.
Following widespread outrage in Nepal through social media platforms, both the channel and Bedi accepted their mistake and apologized. But the storm has refused to die down in Nepal.
This is not the first time the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-M faction, which split from the Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’-led Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist last year, has targeted India.
Earlier this year the party had stopped screening of Hindi movies in cinema halls across Nepal and even demanded a ban on entry of Indian vehicles to the Himalayan nation.