National Broadcaster Prasar Bharati on Wednesday refuted as “totally incorrect” the allegations that it censored the Independence Day speech of Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
“The allegations that Doordarshan Kendra, Agartala blacked out the Chief Minister on Independence Day is totally incorrect and is vehemently refuted,” U.K. Sahoo, Prasar Bharati’s Head of Office, Doordarshan Kendra, Agartala, said in a statement.
He said the News Unit of the local station of Doordarshan at Agartala gave wide coverage to the public address of the Chief Minister and the development activities of the state government.
“On August 15, Doordarshan also gave wide coverage to the Chief Minister’s Independence Day programme and telecast report running up to 29 minutes and 45 seconds, out of which the CM’s speech coverage was for 12 minutes,” he said.
“Apart from this… the Independence Day programmes in various districts of Tripura were given wide publicity in the regional news bulletin,” he added.
Sahoo said that over the last 25 years, since its inception, the Doordarshan Kendra has always given wide publicity to the speeches of Chief Minister of Tripura and extensively covered his public programmes and official activities.
“The Agartala Kendra has telecast the Chief Minister’s message to the people of Tripura over these years,” the statement said.
Sarkar on Wednesday condemned the “censorship” of his Independence Day speech by Prasar Bharati and termed it an “undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step”.
An official statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said that All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan Kendra (DDK), Agartala, recorded Sarkar’s speech on August 12 to broadcast and telecast, repectively, on August 15.
“On August 14 evening, Assistant Director of Programmes (Policy) Sanjiv Dosajh of AIR, New Delhi, and Prasar Bharati’s Head of Office (New Delhi) U.K. Sahoo in separate communications to the Chief Minister’s Office said that with the existing contents, the speech could not be broadcast and telecast by AIR and DDK, Agartala,” the statement said.
“The AIR and Prasar Bharati officials had suggested reshaping the content of the Chief Minister’s speech making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiments of the people of India at large. The Chief Minister refused to make any change in his speech,” the statement added.
Sarkar, a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member, who has been the Chief Minister of Tripura for 19 years, has in previous years delivered the Independence Day speeches through the AIR and DDK, Agartala.