The Narendra Modi government has issued a warning to cable television operators in Jammu and Kashmir for showing private channels of Muslim countries. These Muslim countries are Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia and Iran.
On 5 August, when India virtually abrogated Article 370 that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey had protested. However, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran did not object to India’s decision on the Kashmir issue.
A copy of the advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shows that the cable TV operators have been reminded of their obligations under the cable TV rules.
It has been mentioned in the note that the ministry has noticed that some cable operators were broadcasting private channels outside the published list of the ministry on their networks. This is clearly a violation of sub-rule 6 (6) of the Cable TV Act and it needs to be acted upon immediately. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recognised the legitimacy of more than 500 channels including many foreign ones.
Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, signed the advisory. Cable TV operators have been warned in the advisory if they violate the rules, their license can be revoked and their equipment can be confiscated. Sahay had recently visited Srinagar for a meeting with cable TV operators.
A cable operator who attended the meeting said that officials had said in the meeting that all channels of Iran, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan should be blocked.
While Iran is not generally perceived as anti-India, some of its channels broadcast sermons that amount to radicalising members of the Islamic community, the ministry has observed.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the cable operators that they were broadcasting the Iran-based Sahar channel and Saudi Arabia’s al Arabiya channel. The programmes of these channels are popular among the majority of Kashmir’s population. People of the Shi’ah community watch these channels with great interest due to their religious programmes.
A ministry official said that due to the internet ban, many religious channels of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan had made inroads into TV sets in Kashmir through local cable operators. “We were alerted about this, after which we decided to rein in it,” an official told Sirf News.