New Delhi: The one-day ban on a leading Hindi TV channel 'NDTV India' by the Centre over its coverage of Pathankot attack drew sharp condemnation on Friday from opposition parties and media bodies which called it "shocking and authoritarian" and reminiscent of Emergency days.
The leaders of the non-BJP parties and the media bodies also demanded immediate withdrawal of the order imposing the blackout on November 9.
There was also a suggestion by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh that all newspapers and channels "show courage" and "go off air and not publish" on that day to register their protest.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the order of the inter-ministerial panel of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry showed that an emergency-like situation prevailed in the country while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi slammed it as "shocking and unprecedented". The Editors Guild of India condemned the order as a
"direct violation" of the freedom of the press and similar sentiments were echoed by the Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA). NDTV while terming the order as "shocking" has alleged that it has been "singled out" and said it is examining all options in the matter.
"The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded," the Guild said in a statement.
"The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency."
The BEA while expressing deep concern at the government's decision said imposing a ban is a violation of freedom of expression.
Alleging that the government action smacked of "authoritarianism and intimidation", Rahul and other Congress leaders hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Detaining opposition leaders, blacking out TV channels- all in a day's work in Modiji's India. NDTV banned-shocking and unprecedented (sic)," the Congress Vice President said on twitter.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is also political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, said, "Government's decision to ban NDTV India smacks of authoritarianism and intimidation."
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah lashed out at the Centre, asking if these were the promised "achhe din (good days)".
"NDTV ban is shocking. If government had issues with Pathankot coverage, there are provisions available. But ban shows an Emergency-like attitude," Banerjee said in a statement in Kolkata.
"I hope the whole media goes off air for a day in solidarity wid NDTV.
Congratulations to Editors Guild for showing courage to stand up against Modi Govt's dictatorship," Kejriwal tweeted.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday supported the government's decision to ban news channel NDTV India for a day, saying the nation comes first and there cannot be any compromise with national security.
"We support the freedom of press in a democracy. But nation comes first and there cannot be any compromise with national security," its National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.