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The News Minute| March 9, 2015| 11.00 am IST

As the country was debating the ban on BBC’s ‘India’s Daughter’, a documentary focusing on the December 2012 Delhi gang rape, another TV channel faced severe opposition over a talk show on a sensitive subject- the ‘Mangalsutra’ or ‘Thaali’.

Tamil News channel Puthiya Thalaimurai has been the target of protests by Hindu groups and the BJP, which stemmed from a promo of the channel’s programme ‘Urakka Sollungal.’

The promo telecast on Wednesday showed clips from the upcoming all-women episode where the panelists and audience debated the relevance of the ‘Thaali’ or ‘Mangalsutra’.

The discussion was focused on whether the Thaali has become a redundant symbol, just in cases where the husbands have abandoned or tortured their wives.


“We started getting threatening calls ten days ago, as news of the recording spread. But it got worse when the first promo was telecast on Thursday. The promo featured a woman saying that her husband had abandoned her and asking why she should wear the Thaali. The promo also featured another woman who supported the Thaali,” a senior editor with the channel, who did not want to be named told The News Minute.

On Saturday, the Hindu Makkal Katchi protested outside the channel’s office asking to shelve the programme that was set to air on Sunday.

“From Thursday to Sunday, we have received more than 3,600 threatening calls. If women in the newsroom picked up some of these calls, they were asked, ‘Do you wear a Thaali, first take it off and then speak’,” the editor said.

BJP National Secretary H Raja was among those who told the channel to not broadcast the show.

“Why should this channel be allowed to air the show? What is the need to discuss the relevance of the Thaali? Will the same channel discuss the Purdah for Muslim women or if Christian nuns should wear the cross? “ H Raja told The News Minute.

On Sunday, in spite of the channel not airing the show, around 100 members, mainly belonging to the Hindu Munnani marched to the Puthiya Thalaimurai office in Guindy, Chennai.

As cameraperson E Senthilkumaran was capturing the demonstration, protestors attacked him, and broke his camera equipment. Senthilkumaran was hospitalised for his injuries and later discharged on Monday morning.

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(Source: Puthiya Thalaimurai YouTube channel)

“What was worse was the attitude of the police personnel. Deputy Commissioner of Police D Kannan and Assistant Commissioner of Police S Thambusamy arrived at the scene and turned their ire at us. They asked us why the police should give us security as the channel was airing a controversial programme,” the editor said.

Later, ten members of the Hindu Munnani were arrested by the Chennai police.

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(Source: Puthiya Thalaimurai YouTube channel)

The Consortium of Journalists of India (CJI) has strongly condemned the attack and released a statement saying, “This is not the first incident of attack on the media people in the city and state. CJI has sought legal action against the Hindu outfits for attacking the cameraman and damaging his camera. CJI has also asked the senior police officers to give proper direction to the errant police officers.”

When asked if this amounted to censorship, H Raja justified the protests. “The promo showed a woman equating the Thaali to a dog’s collar. This is not a simple talk show; this is a planned attack on our religion. The press has freedom in this country, but we will not let them go beyond their limits.”

“Why should it get aired? We have no interest in watching it,” H Raja said when asked why they did not wait until the show aired to raise their objections, H Raja said,

Meanwhile, the protests have taken a nastier turn, with a picture of a senior editor’s wife  being circulated on social media. The image is accompanied by a text saying, “Will she take off her Thaali?”

The channel as of now is undecided on