Prasar Bharti denies it censored Tripura CM Manik Sarkar's Independence Day speech

Sarkar, a CPI-M politburo member, who has been Tripura CM for 19 years, has in previous years delivered the Independence Day speeches through the AIR and DDK, Agartala.

Published: 16th August 2017 08:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2017 10:32 PM   |  A+A-

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. | PTI Photo

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Doordarshan on Wednesday rubbished allegations that Prasar Bharati had blacked out Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar’s Independence Day programme.

In a statement, U K Sahoo, head of office, Doordarshan Kendra, Agartala, claimed, “The news unit of the local station of Doordarshan at Agartala has given wide coverage to the public address of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tripura and the development activities of the State government… “On August 15, 2017, Doordarshan also gave wide coverage to the Chief Minister’s Independence Day programme and telecast a report running to 29 minutes and 45 seconds. Out of which, the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s speech coverage was for 12 minutes. This was telecast at 1900 hrs,” Sahoo said.

On Tuesday, the Information and Cultural Affairs ministry of Tripura government, said, “According to Prasar Bharati, the CM’s pre-recorded (I-Day) speech... was inept keeping in mind the sanctity and solemnity attached to the occasion.”

An enraged Sarkar said Prasar Bharati could not decide on his speech. He described as “undemocratic”, “authoritarian” and “uncalled for” Prasar Bharati’s directive to him. He said it was a blow to freedom of speech.

Narrating the incident, Sarkar said: “On August 12, my I-Day speech was pre-recorded by the Agartala centres of Doordarshan and AIR. Then at 7 pm on August 14, we were informed by the AIR through a letter and soon after, by Doordarshan that my speech would not be aired following a directive from Prasar Bharati. They said Prasar Bharati wanted me to reshape my speech by making changes in it and only then it would be aired”.

Sarkar stood his ground and made it known that he was not going to change even a single word or sentence of his speech.

He slammed AIR and Doordarshan saying “they cannot decide what I would speak or how my speech should be like”.

His CPM has also vented ire through social media. “Doordarshan refuses to broadcast Tripura CM Manik Sarkar’s speech. Is this the cooperative federalism that PM Modi talks about? Shame!” the party’s official twitter handle posted.

But what was Sarkar’s pre-recorded speech like?

Well, he spoke about the attacks on Dalits and minorities, the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the alleged attack on secularism and attempts to make India a country of one religion and cow vigilantism etc.    

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