New Delhi [India], Nov.7 (ANI
): Prominent entrepreneur and political commentator Tehseen Poonawalla 's plan to stage a protest against the government's one day ban imposed on news channel NDTV India by watching the channel online on the day of the ban in front of the official residence of the Prime Minister has put the Delhi police in a tight spot.
Poonawalla, while opposing the ban on NDTV India, had tweeted that he planned to watch the channel online outside the residence of the Prime Minister in order to protest against the gag on media.?
It maybe recalled that NDTV India has been ordered to go off air on November 9 (Wednesday) for broadcasting sensitive details of the terror attack that took place on the air force base in Pathankot in January this year. ?
The Delhi Police, meanwhile, are now in a quandary on how to tackle Poonawalla. A source from Delhi police said on condition of anonymity that even if prohibitory orders are in place, Poonawalla intends to go there alone and watch the channel on the pavement outside perhaps on his mobile or tablet. Any action will end up looking bad, especially since Poonawalla also has a substantial following online, especially amongst youngsters.
Meanwhile, Poonawalla was unavailable for comment, but his office released the following statement on his behalf: "It seems we are moving into an era of undeclared emergency where freedom of speech is in serious peril. The gag order on a news channel - NDTV India -- is completely illegal and should the government go ahead with this ban, I will peacefully, without any crowds, watch the news channel on the pavement outside the PM 's official residence, to mark my protest. By going alone and peacefully watching content online, I will not disrupt any prohibitory orders if put to stop me nor will I shout slogans or create disturbance. I simply will register my protest. I have no affinity for the said channel, however it is the larger principle of free press and free speech I wish to fight for, and stand up against this government, which I believe is bent of gagging democracy."
On Monday, NDTV challenged the government's one-day ban of its Hindi channel in the Supreme Court. It refuted all charges and allegations levelled against it by a government-appointed committee and pointed out that other channels and newspapers had also reported the same information.
The ban has been widely condemned by journalists and editors with all press councils drawing parallels to the Emergency of the 1970s when basic constitutional rights, including the freedom of the press were blatantly violated.
The Editors' Guild of India has described the government ban as unprecedented, and added that the Centre appears to have given itself the power "to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage."
The organisation, a grouping of editors of all major newspapers and magazines in the country, said if the government finds any media coverage objectionable, it can approach the courts.
Defending the ban, Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said over the weekend that it was "in the interest of the country's security" and that the barrage of criticism confronted by the government appears "politically inspired.? (ANI