Censorship

So much for freedom of the press!

Yesterday, Punya Prasoon Bajpai hosted a show  on Surya Samachar :

“जानिए देश के असल चौकीदार का हाल II JAI HIND II”

You can view the show here

It was about the ‘real’ chowkidars, the security guards employed in countless housing complexes, buildings, private and public establishments. There are already three or four such articles, focusing on the plight of these chowkidars, a much needed spotlight of this category of workers, considering their incredibly long hours, often doing double duty and working with total insecurity of service and pathetic wages.

The show generated 57,403 views with scores of likes. The show drew parallels on the chowkidars employed by different establishments and the current campaign of the BJP party and its leaders to prefix their social media accounts with the word ‘chowkidar’.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 9.34.46 pm

Screenshot of SuryaSamachar episode on the plight of chowkidars (security guards)

But guess what happened next!

The entire team that put together the show have been told their services are no longer needed! They have been given letters to that effect today.

The team comprising around 25 to 30 journalists, had been appointed between February 5-15, 2019. The owners of the channel had invested at least Rs 50 lakhs in machinery and camera equipment etc in anticipation of a lot of coverage with the forthcoming elections. But now, there’s total chaos in the newsroom and no one knows what the next step will be, a member of the team (who preferred to remain anonymous) told FreeSpeechCollective.

Surya Samachar News is owned by biscuit manufacturer, Priya Gold. It launched in 2016 and news anchor Punya Prasoon Bajpai joined it in Februuary, more than six months after being forced to quit from ABP news channel where he anchored the show, ‘Masterstroke’. Then, Bajpai had written critically of the pressure he faced and the censorship from the ABP owners not to even mention the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi!

Thus far, Bajpai has been silent on the move to remove his entire team. But with election fever hotting up, there’s no telling where the watchman’s lathi will strike next!

 

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