Manik Sarkar's Independence Day speech: Prasar Bharati admits it told Tripura CM to 'reshape' his remarks

Days after Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar claimed that All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan Kendra Agartala had refused to air his Independence Day address unless he "reshaped" it, Prasar Bharati, which controls Doordarshan and AIR, admitted it told Sarkar what he could or could not say, according to a report in The Indian Express.

A Tripura government press statement alleged that Doordarshan and AIR had recorded Sarkar's speech on 12 August. However, the chief minister's office was informed through a letter that his speech would not be broadcast unless he "reshaped it", according to the report.

Manik Sarkar in his Independence Day speech said that the spirit of secularism was under attack.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

"Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow. Because of all these people, minorities and Dalits are under severe attack," Sarkar said.

After Sarkar's speech was recorded on 12 August, The Indian Express report says Prasar Bharati officials in Agratala asked senior officials in Delhi what to do and senior officials decided that Sarkar's speech was against the broadcast code.

The report claims that Sarkar had asked UK Sahoo, Doordarshan’s protocol officer, to “maintain the quality and content” of his speech.

When Sahoo sent the text of the speech to Delhi, as he felt it was controversial, a committee of four senior officers at the AIR headquarters told their office in Agartala that the chief minister will need to “reshape the content” of his speech, otherwise the “broadcast may not go with its existing content”.

The CPM on Tuesday called  Doordarshan's refusal to broadcast the speech an "undeclared Emergency".

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Doordarshan was "not the private property" of the BJP-RSS and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "instructing his cronies to black out voices" of the Opposition, including that of an elected chief minister.

Manik Sarkar on Wednesday had condemned the alleged censorship of his Independence Day speech by national broadcaster Prasar Bharati and termed it an "undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step".

Doordarshan, in reply on Wednesday, had said it had given "wide coverage" to Sarkar's Independence Day programme.

With inputs from agencies.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 09:52 AM

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