Censorship: Doordarshan Refuses to telecast Tripura CM, Manik Sarkar’s Independence Day Speech

In another move of the Modi government in censorship of diverse and dissenting political opinion, the speech of the chief minister, Manik Sarkar of the Left Front government in Tripura was not aired as us customary on Independence Day.

The Prasar Bharati and under it, both Doordarshan and All India Radio refused to broadcast the customary Independence Day address of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, advising him to “reshape” the speech after it was recorded by the chief minister.

The public broadcasters did not air Sarkar’s six-minute speech which was scheduled to be aired at 6.30am on Tuesday after the Sarkar government refused to make changes.

Sarkar, in his unaired speech, a copy of which is available with sections of the media was reportedly slated to have said, “Unity in diversity is India’s traditional heritage. Great values of secularism have helped in keeping Indians together as a nation. Today, the spirit is under attack. Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow.”

The Tripura CM, who has commandeered the north-eastern state for the last 19 years, also said, “These unholy tendencies cannot be harboured or tolerated. These disruptive attempts are contrary to the goals, dreams and ideals of our freedom struggle. The followers of those who are not associated with the independence movement, rather sabotaged the freedom movement, were servile to the atrocious, plunderer and merciless British, aligned with the anti-national forces having decorated themselves today in different names and colours are striking at the root of unity and integrity of India.”

Dooordarshan is not the private property of the BJP or the RSS. Its refusal to broadcast Tripura CM’s speech is undemocratic and illegal, said Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the party, sharply criticising the move of Doordarshan under the Modi regime not to telecast the Indpendence Day speech of Tripura chief minister, Manik Sarkar.

” The PM can repeat homilies to cooperative federalism while instructing all his cronies to black out voices of the Opposition, including an elected CM. If this is not authoritarianism and undeclared Emergency, what is? This will be fought back by the CPI(M), people of Tripura and all citizens of our country,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the refusal by the Doordarshan and All India Radio to broadcast the customary Independence Day address of Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura.

The Doordarshan and All India Radio had recorded his speech for the occasion. However, they subsequently informed him that the speech cannot be carried as it is and asked him to “reshape” it.
This is a gross infringement on the right of a Chief Minister to address the people of his state on Independence Day. The statement issued by the CPI-M said that “this act is reminiscent of the Emergency days and goes beyond as it seeks to gag the elected Chief Minister of a state. The Central Government is trampling upon the autonomy of Doordarshan/AIR and Prasar Bharati by such acts of censorship.”

The Polit Bureau has demanded action against those responsible for prohibiting the broadcast. The Modi Government should stop treating the Prasar Bharati as a department of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the statement said.



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