The Ayodhya district administration has directed that news channels seeking to cover the bhoomi pujan of the Ram temple next week must give an undertaking not to invite any “vivadit pakshakar (controversial party)” for any debate. The undertaking also requires them to ensure no comment is made on any religion, community or sect, or any specific individual.
As per the format devised by the district administration, the undertaking says heads of electronic media houses would be held accountable in case of any law and order situation arising because of a channel. “Kanoon vyavastha ko banaye rakha jayega tatha agar kisi prakar se koi garbari hogi to iski jimmedari meri vyaktigat roop se hogi (Law and order would be maintained and if there is anything untoward then it would be my personal responsibility),” says the undertaking, to be signed by heads of media houses.
The format, sent to news channels, requires permissions to be taken under nine heads, including that a private indoor space has been identified for a programme and no public place selected for the purpose.
On parties to be called for debates on shows, the undertaking seeks a guarantee that “iss karikaram mein kisi vivadit pakshakar ko nahi bulaya jayega (no controversial litigant would be invited for this programme)”. No comment can be made on any “dharma, sampradaya, pant (religion, community or sect)”, or a “vyakti vishesh (any specific individual)”.
The channels have been told to ensure social distancing is maintained, there is no crowd or audience at their recording apart from panelists, and masks are worn by those attending.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deputy Director, Information, Murli Dhar Singh said, “Media would have no problem covering the event, all the arrangements are being made. There would be a separate media centre, and live telecast. In order to maintain law and order and considering Covid, news channels would have to take prior permission and ensure there is no public gathering, there are no controversial statements and that proper protocol is maintained.”
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