All India Radio is Not for All
Independence day speech of Tripura Chief Minister censored
August 17, 2017
All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) refused to air the pre-recorded, Independence day speech of Manik Sarkar, the democratically elected Chief Minister of the state of Tripura. Prasara Bharati, an autonomous body that runs both AIR and DD informed the same to the Chief Minister's office. In the email written to the Chief Minister's office, Prasara Bharati informs that they are "happy" to air the speech if the Chief Minister "reframes" the speech.
Prasara Bharati in this email states that certain elements in the pre-recorded speech were not suitable for the "solemnity of the occasion" (occasion being Independence day), and "sentiments of the people of India at large"; and thus, they had decided not to air the speech.
This is the first time a democratically elected Chief Minister's speech has been censored.
Sarkar in his speech reflected on the communal violence, caste and class-based inequalities, and violence and poverty prevalent in the country. He also acknowledged the increasing communal violence in the name of "cow", referring to the mob attacks and lynchings that India witnessed in the last few days. In the speech, Sarkar refers to the freedom that India's struggle for Independence stood for, and states that the violence in the name of nation or religion was not what that freedom stood for. The speech was a call for all the people of Tripura to unite, to believe in "unity in diversity", and fight against all odds.
Anything or anyone that questions the state and the government is being censored. Authors, artists, scientists, scholars and their works are under severe attack by the institutions of the state. Against this backdrop, this censorship of a democratically elected Chief Minister demonstrates the threat to freedom of speech and freedom of expression of the citizens of India.
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