M A I N   N E W S

Police for check on anti-national telecasts
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Peeved by a 90-minute telecast of a talk show on a TV channel on March 6, the Punjab Police not only arrested Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a participant in the programme, but has also sought a central regulatory body for screening of sensitive programmes before their telecast on different channels.

The programme, “Desh Droh,” a talk show, was telecast by Zee News, and featured, among others, Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Mr Daljit Singh Bittoo, known Khalistan ideologues, besides a few retired police officers and others.

The Punjab Police chief, Mr S.S. Virk, in a communication addressed to the State Home Secretary, has objected to the contents of the programme describing it as “highly distorted and mischievously motivated presentation about the Punjab problem with the observation that the movement for Khalistan is still simmering and is not over as yet.”

Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, wrote Mr Virk, was the most vocal in terms of not only reiterating his demand for Khalistan but also claimed that it would become a reality in the year 2007 and would become an achievable target once Kashmir became a separate nation.

It were probably these remarks that led to the arrest this morning of Dr Chauhan, who after several years of stay in England, was allowed to return to India during the previous NDA Government at the Centre and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) regime in Punjab.

The top brass of the Punjab Police, sources reveal, believes that certain lobbies working under various pressures and motivations were not satisfied with the restoration of peace and tranquility in the state after heavy bloodshed and sacrifices made by the public as well as the security forces. Over 20,000 lives, including 2000 security men, were lost in the violent movement.

After terrorism was effectively controlled by 1995, the state started showing signs of stability and consolidation especially after 2000-2001. Five years of peace since then saw the economy showing signs of recovery and several companies, including those in Information Technology, made Punjab their destination.

“Some forces have, however, started raising the bogey of terrorism as part of their sinister game plan to create panic, disillusionment and demoralisation in the public in order to put hurdles in the path of the economic recovery. The telecast of this show,” wrote Mr Virk,” was highly seditious as well as misleading. It is also likely that this issue is picked up by some other channels and a section of the media for discussions as a result of which this issue, which though totally irrelevant, dormant and out of public memory today may regain relevance. The state, which is totally peaceful today, may become the target of the commercial rat race of the media.”

The police wants the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to create a regulatory authority which should monitor all such sensitive programmes and “deny permission to telecast issues which are intended to spread sedition and separatism or disorder of any kind.”

It may be pertinent to mention here that late last year, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had a debate on the root causes of terrorism in Punjab which the ruling party wanted to be telecast repeatedly. Even during the current Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, a special discussion was allowed on assimilation of terrorist turned CATS in the police and their subsequent rehabilitation in social life.

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