M A I N   N E W S

Report on controversial telecast sent to Centre
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Stung by bad publicity and adverse public reaction over a television programme on the issue of “Khalistan”, the Punjab Government has sent a report to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) explaining the “facts” relating to the telecast and the subsequent circumstances created by it.

The report, prepared by the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, also details the ramifications of the telecast and the stand of all persons who were interviewed by the news channel in its programme, “Desh Droh”, telecast about two weeks ago. The Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, has also given inputs on the persons who were interviewed and their standing and following, if any, in Punjab.

The MHA had not sought a report, and the government has sent it on its own, confirmed a senior functionary of the government. The need for the report was felt as the information with the MHA would be from scattered news reports in which the entire picture might not have been presented, said sources. Meanwhile, the Intelligence Bureau is also learnt to have sent a separate dossier on the persons involved in the telecast.

Zee News, bowing to public sentiments in Punjab, had expressed “regrets” at having hurt the feelings of the Sikh community by telecasting the programme.

The report of the government also contains references that the persons who were interviewed by the television channel had no following in state politics. It also says that these were the views of a small minority and not the masses.

The statement made by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the Vidhan Sabha on March 12 forms a part of the report. The Chief Minister had then assured the House that “no individual or institution attempting to disturb the peace in the state will be allowed to do so and anybody abetting any terrorist activity shall be locked up”.

The Chief Minister’s crucial statement that “the programme broadcast on the news channel presented a highly distorted and, at times, incorrect and incoherent picture and the entire episode is engineered and directed at maligning the government and the people of Punjab” has also been incorporated. The Assembly adopted a resolution to protect the “hard-earned peace” of the state.

Meanwhile, on the instructions of the DGP, the links of certain lobbies that could have gained from the telecast are also being looked into. Also, the police is probing whether some investment that was coming to Punjab was affected by the “fear psychosis” generated by this programme. 

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