Senior journalists at ABP News TV channel were made to resign following anti-government programs

Caravan News

NEW DELHI: Senior journalists at a prominent Hindi TV channel in India were forced to resign or sent on long leave earlier this week following broadcast of some programs that did not please the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Milind Khandekar, Managing Editor at ABP News, quit on 1st August while the channel’s prime-time anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai resigned on 2nd August. Another senior anchor Abhisar Sharma has been asked to go off air for some weeks.

Some weeks ago, the channel had aired a program that claimed that a woman farmer who appeared in a video interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been tutored to make false claims that her income had doubled. On camera, the woman had told the channel that some officials had come to her home days before the interaction with the PM and taught her something. She said that she told the PM what she was asked to tell. She also denied that her income had doubled.

Following the program, several ministers of the Modi government criticized the channel for the program. Some reports say that even BJP president Amit Shah had allegedly threatened action against the channel.

Meanwhile, the resignations of the two journalists apparently under compulsion have triggered a debate on freedom of the press, the accountability of media owners and the government’s attitude to criticism.

As the government came out denying any interference in the media, journalist Bajpai went to Twitter to ask: “If there is no interference, are invisible forces at work?”

Bajpai had captured the version of woman in his program ‘MasterStroke’.

Senior journalists, activists and politicians have sharply reacted over the development at ABP News channel.

M K Venu, Founding Editor, The Wire: ABP episode shows govt is panicking. Pressure on media comes in various forms. The Wire questioned  merit of IOC/Gail investing 49% stake in Adani’s LNG terminal project. No response from oil minister but Adanis filed a Rs100 crore civil defamation & separate criminal defamation.

Nidhi Razdan, Executive Editor and Anchor, NDTV: ABP news needs to speak up about what happened. These have been testing times for many of us. How does the channel explain itself? The press during the Emergency seemed to have had far more courage. And why is the govt so afraid of questions?

Suhasini Haidar, Foreign Affairs Editor, The Hindu: Two disturbing parts to I&B Minister’s response on #ABPNews resignations: Comment abt ABP “falling ratings”, and assertion that if the govt wanted to punish ABP, they would have cut channel signal on Freedish.(P.S. ABP had complained abt signal blackouts)

Prashant Bhushan, Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court: Editor in chief of ABP news Milind Khandekar & Prasun Bajpai, anchor of primetime show Masterstroke made to resign. Anchor Abhisar Sharma sent on leave because Shah threatened to teach #ABPNews a lesson for running shows critical of Govt! Media Censorship!

Congress Party: It has come to light that the BJP had planned to “teach ABP News a lesson”. With dissenting voices being silenced, independent & credible journalism has been increasingly under threat under the BJP.

Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister, Delhi: Free media is life line of democracy. But Modi govt is hell bent to kill independent media. The resignation of two eminent TV journalists from ABP News in two days is another proof. Media should rise now, other wise it will be too late


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