As the tensions keep mounting at the borders, Indian journalists, in their studios broke all the records of intellectual dishonesty and propaganda.
Renovating their newsrooms and converting into ‘war alert’ mode, some anchors were seen ending their bulletins with a ‘Jai Hind’ sign-off while others have created a ‘war room’ for its staff to play soldier – complete with an anchor wearing an imitation ‘flak jacket’.
Though, despite the trending jingoism, NDTV seemed to have maintained sanity and remained neutral throughout the surgical strike controversy, an abrupt dramatic U-turn in the editorial policy suggests that the channel has succumbed to the violent BJP and its policy of terror.
On October 6th, the channel suddenly shocked by deciding to not to telecast an interview with Congress leader P. Chidambaram – who as a former home minister and finance minister was a member of Manmohan Singh’s cabinet committee on security for a decade – simply because he was critical of the Modi government’s politicisation of the surgical strikes the Indian army claimed it conducted across the Line of Control in Kashmir last week.
Some excerpts were played out on the channel on Thursday morning, showing Chidambaram criticising statements made by defence minister Manohar Parrikar after the so-called surgical strikes.
Chidambaram’s interview was recorded with NDTV’s star anchor Barkha Dutt and the the full interview was to be broadcasted in the evening. But it wasn’t.
Moreover, the cancellation of interview’s broadcast wasn’t the only act of censorship at the channel that day. According to The Wire, the editors were instructed that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s “Khoon ki Dalali” of Indian soldiers (trading in the blood) statement about Modi of Indian soldiers was not to be run on the channel either.
NDTV’s editorial director Sonia Singh explained the new editorial policy in an email on October 6 to all of the channel’s journalists across the country:
Across the NDTV network, we have decided we will not give space to the bizarre political bickering that has broken out on the surgical strikes…..no debates, no airtime of my strikes vs yours, give proof etc…whether it is opposition or the govt….only the army…..to explain this.. here is a gfx we should carry today as the lead in our bulletins….…[name redacted], please can this be designed…here is the text….
INDIA ABOVE POLITICS
National security cannot be compromised by politics
Our Army cannot be doubted or questioned or used for political gains
The current political debate threatens to do this
NDTV will not air any remarks that risk security for political advantage”
The Wire wrote that “The ‘gfx’ was prepared and highlighted at the top of the 9 pm news bulletin on Thursday night. For some reason, the second point – about not questioning the army – was dropped from the graphic (see above).”
The Wire sent a series of questions to Radhika Roy, co-founder and chairperson of NDTV, and Sonia Singh, on Friday afternoon – right after BJP president Amit Shah’s press conference was telecast on the channel.
In her reply to The Wire, Radhika Roy provided a general explanation of NDTV’s policy, but did not answer specific questions, especially those on Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Manohar Parrikar and Amit Shah.
The 2-minute video clip excerpted from P. Chidambaram’s interview to Barkha Dutt which played during the day on Thursday has also been removed from the ndtv.com website.
Following the sudden turnaround, the Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted questions P. Chidambaram has sent NDTV about what the channel found objectionable about his interview:
A fascist Modi Govt throttles NDTV from showing the truth. Dictatorship can't suppress, strangle reality. Media must standup & be counted. pic.twitter.com/tP2en6h7gr
— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 8, 2016