Leading Malayalam news channels MediaOne and Asianet News have been barred for 48 hours by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for their ‘coverage of the Delhi riots’.
Both the channels have been showing a black screen since 7.30 pm on Friday, March 6, when they were taken off the air. The channels can resume broadcast only at 7.30 pm on March 8.
In its orders, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said the two channels appeared to have covered the violence on February 25 in a manner that “provocative, could have incited violence, were biased and critical of the RSS and Delhi police, sided with a particular community and showed those who supported the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in poor light”.
The Ministry has alleged that MediaOne accused the Delhi Police of remaining inactive during the anti-Muslim violence, and also blamed police for vandalizing shops and fruit carts.
“The channel also reported that violence took place mostly in Muslim dominated areas of Chand Bagh, Delhi. While telecasting the news, the channel carried the news of stone-pelting, arson and injured people being taken to hospital,” the order adds.
For MediaOne, it is a bulletin carrying on a phone-in conversation with Madhyamam Delhi correspondent Hassanul Banna reporting about the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters being injured and police’s refusal to visit the spot and nab the vandals that led to the ban.
“It appeared that the telecast of the reports on North-East Delhi violence had been shown in a manner that highlighted the attack on places of worship and siding towards a particular community. The channel’s reporting on Delhi violence seems to be biased as it is deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters. It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. The channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS,” the government order which sent to MediaOne said.
For Asianet News, it is a report by its Delhi journalist PR Sunil on the anti-Muslim violence and about Delhi Police being mute spectators that led to the temporary ban.
This Asianet News report, the order alleges, could have ‘incited violence and posed danger to the maintenance of law and order situation, particularly when the situation is already highly volatile and charged up and riots are taking place in the area’.
The order states that Asianet reported about rioters blocking commuters and attacking them for their religion, attacking houses of Muslims in Hindu majority areas and rioters firing at each other with slogans of Jai Sri Ram and Azadi in the air.
Asianet also reported about shops, houses and vehicles being burnt and no action being taken as the violence continued for the third day, with the Central Government not acting to control the riots.