Journalists associations on Monday unanimously condemned the one-day ban on NDTV India news channel, terming it as a selective move by the government.
Journalists, who held a protest meet at the Press Club of India here, passed a resolution criticising the government's decision of singling out just one channel for the alleged breach of telecast norms.
The ban was imposed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for what it called a leak of strategic information of national importance by the Hindi channel in its coverage of the January 2 Pathankot terror attack on the Indian Air Force base. The government however on Monday put on hold the ban as the media group moved the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of the gag order.
Representatives of Editors Guild, Indian Journalists Union, Delhi Union of Journalists, Indian Womens Press Corps, Federation of Press Clubs were joined by a large number of well-known journalists.
"If only one channel is pulled off air then it's a problem. There were several others who aired the coverage of the attack but no action was taken against them," said media personality Rajdeep Sardesai.
"We need to challenge the audacity of these bureaucrats, how can they just take a decision to impose a ban among themselves? Media organisation are liable to respond to self regulatory bodies. It is precisely for these kind of circumstances that we find ourselves in that we had formed these bodies," he added.
Caravan magazine's political editor Hartosh Singh Bal and Editors Guild Treasurer Seema Mustafa also condemned the ban.
"This is writing on the wall for the government, and it has become quite clear by the turnout here," Mustafa said.
She said that this highhandedness was not unfrequent these days and cited the police crackdown on reporters working in Maoist areas and the ban imposed on Kashmir Reader, a newspaper published from Jammu and Kashmir.
Bal took a jibe at Prime Minster Narendra Modi, calling him "not a great respecter of freedom of press".
He thanked Akshaya Mukul, a journalist who refused to take the Ramnath Goenka award for journalism from Modi, where the latter was Chief Guest.
"Individual media voices are becoming rarer these days. There were hardly 20 people here (at Press Club) when the atrocities on Bastar journalists were discussed, nor were there many when the plight of Kashmiri journalists was discussed. I think that we are waking up to the problem very late," Bal said.
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