Turmoil in RS as Govt defends Collector banning Tehelka telecast

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New Delhi, Nov 28 (UNI) The Government's vehement defence of the Ahemadabad Collector's blacking out the telecast of Tehelka's expose of the Gujarat 2002 violence today caused heavy uproar in the Upper House.

''Ahmedabad Collector did the right thing in banning the telecast of violent happenings in Gujarat in 2002 as there were some vested interests who wanted the constant telecast of the same,'' said Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi in reply to a question.

The members were not satisfied with the reply and instead posed the question if the banning did not tantamount to infringing upon the right of the people to know the truthfulness of the course of events.

Defending the Collector's action as necessary to defend the secular fabric of the country and the Constitution, he said, ''After a careful study, I found that the Collector's action was justified as in a situation where there is something that is likely to lead to pluralisation of one community against the other, he can ban its telecast under the provisions of the Cable Network Regulation Act.'' The Minister's reply led to an uproar in the House with members Brinda Karat, Amar Singh and others blaming the government of toing the line of Gujarat Government on the issue.

In his reply, the Minister also mentioned that the Collector had earlier banned the channel 'Vande Gujarat', after receiving complaints that it was being aired in place of several popular programmes like 'Kaun Banega Crorepati'. The Election Commission had also endorsed the decision of the Collector.

Mr Dasmunsi said the owners of Tehelka had not made any complaint in writing about the banning of the telecast of their expose.

He said while the Gujarat 2002 happenings were shameful and had evoked condemnation from several parties including the Congress from time to time, the timing of the telecast was not right. It could have been shown six months ago.

The Minister said there was a deep-rooted plan behind this telecast ''which will be revealed to the House very shortly''.

On the question of big business houses entering the retail sector harming small traders, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Ashwani Kumar assured that FDI had not been allowed in the retail sector except for a single brand entity. He also clarified that there was no embargo on the domestic business houses for entering the retail business.

The Minister said the Government had asked the two organisations ICRIER and NCAER for conducting studies in this sector and till then, no FDI would be allowed in this sector for the protection of small traders and the farmers.

On the question of child labour, Labour and Child Welfare Minister Oscar Fernandes said all attention was being given to the child welfare scheme, education and other isssues.

Mr Fernandes assured that all districts in the country will be covered under the scheme in the next five years.

The Minister also admitted that most of the child labour belonged to SC/ST and OBCs working in dhabas and other hazardous industries and assured that all necessary steps will be taken to check this and arrangement for their schooling.


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