Protests erupt in Kerala over Centre’s move to ban two Malayalam news channels

A glimpse from the protest against the ban on Asianet and Media One news channels.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Central government’s decision to ban two Malayalam news channels for their coverage of the New Delhi riots triggered a flurry of protests in Kerala on Saturday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi condemned the move and said in a Facebook post that it reflected a dangerous trend that presaged an era of political and religious intolerance.

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday slapped a 48-hour ban on Asianet News and Media One news channels for what it described as biased coverage of the communal violence. The Centre has since lifted the ban, and the channels are back on the air.

Mr. Vijayan said an undeclared emergency prevailed in India. The Centre had infringed on independent journalism. It wanted civil society to fall in line with its divisive political agenda. The Centre had sent an unequivocal message. “Anyone who dares criticise the RSS will earn the Centre’s ire”, he said.

The Centre had cited criticism of the RSS and the Delhi police as the reasons for banning the news channels.

Watch: KGOA takes out protest march in Thiruvananthapuram against media ban

The Constitution guarantees citizens to air their opinion fearlessly. Hence, no entity was above criticism in a democratic polity. “Is the RSS a holy organisation that is above reproach? Is there such a rule in the country?” he asked.

Mr. Vijayan said journalists had demonstrated against the ban. However, no sound of protest had come from the association of media owners, he said. The people had a right to know what is happening in the country and journalists must inform them. By banning two media organisations, the Centre has trespassed on the rights of both groups. The RSS has a history of using intimidation as a tool to cow down opponents. It has now used it against the independent media, the judiciary and in Parliament.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists took out a march to the General Post Office in Thiruvananthapuram to protest the ban.

Watch: KUWJ takes out protest march in Thiruvananthapuram against media ban

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the Centre had shown its true fascist colours. CPM State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran and KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran also condemned the attempt to “stifle” the media.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 4:01:43 AM |

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