NAPM unequivocally condemns ‘Emergency Regime’ and 

assault on independence of the media

FREEand all questioning elements in a democracy unacceptable

7th Nov, 2016: The National Alliance of People’s Movements unequivocally condemns the high-handedness of the BJP-led Central Govt. for its unprecedented assault on the freedom of press, latest being the one-day selective ban on NDTV-India, and thereby assault on the country’s right to know, right to question, right to dissent and the very right to democracy.

The nation knows quite well that the NDTV ban has little connection with the allegation of the channel divulging sensitive information on the Pathankot terror-strike airbase and more to do with the channel’s, particularly Mr. Ravish Kumar’s scathing critique of the undemocratic and Sangh-driven policies and politics of the BJP. This clearly explains why NDTV-India has been prejudicially singled-out even as similar ‘objectionable’ content was aired by numerous channels around the same time.  

The ban, at best, is vague, arbitrary and prima facie lacks substance and merit. Even assuming there has been a rule violation (which is not discernable in the circumstances), the Govt. could have resorted to other legal remedies, but it chose to go the ‘ban-way’ thereby trying to ‘test the waters’ and give out a message to all ‘noise-makers’ in the country that if this can happen to NDTV, the rest are small fry. This is a dangerous precedent and must be condemned by the media fraternity, civil society and citizenry alike. It is in this context NAPM demands that the ban imposed for one day on 9th November, 2016 should be withdrawn forthwith.

Having stated this, we would also like to highlight that in places such as Kashmir and Chattisgarh, not only freedom of press goes for a toss on a daily basis, but the very security of persons/agencies who report unsavory truth are shut down, targeted, harassed and even killed. All of this has been happening for a very very long time and continues to this day where the Govt. wants to wage its Wars without Witnesses. While, sadly, these violations have not caught national imagination as much as the NDTV ban has, we wish to state that all these violations are equally condemnable and must be seen as part of a cohesive devious right-wing politik to subvert democracy and constitutional rule of law.

As for the big media, it is indeed a wake-up call and a serious occasion for re-think. Be it Outlook, Indian Express and now NDTV, all have faced the ire of the successive governments; not to speak of the countless cases of routine, unreported attacks on stringers, photographers, journalists. It is about time the media stands united for freedom of press and expression in its entirety and speaks up for any violation. But how much of this would be possible, especially by conscientious journalists in an overwhelming atmosphere of corporate-driven media is a challenge of our times. How much of this outrage would bring about an actual change in editorial policies in the interests of professional ethics and constitutional propriety is also uncertain, but we all must act with due vigilance and resist any attempts at erosion of democratic values.

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Samajwadi Jan Parishad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Milind Champanerkar, Editorial member, Andolan Magazine, Pune; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju, Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-AP, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh, Nandlal Master – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal;  Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai, Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, Delhi