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Former NDTV journalist claims the channel is ‘communal’ and free speech is only for selected few

Since its launch in 1988, the media group NDTV has made a name for itself as one of the most controversial channels in the Indian news media sphere.

Earlier social media users and vigilant media observers used to be instrumental in exposing the ‘sins’ of NDTV 24/7, like it peddling blatant fake news. But in recent days, the media group has been hit by a new trend, which is, getting exposed by its own former employees.

Earlier we had reported how Sushant Sinha, a former colleague Ravish Kumar exposed his hypocrisy when the latter had written an open letter to PM Modi alleging that he received death threats on social media.

This, “I am an ex-employee and I will expose NDTV” template was further popularised by former employee Barkha Dutt who wrote a long Facebook post, to exposes censorship at NDTV. She also spilled the beans on how former corporate lobbyist Nira Radia could have helped the channel financially, and had also launched other attacks on the channel.

Now the latest ex-employee on the scene is Abhiranjan Kumar, who earlier was the senior output editor at NDTV India and is currently the director Neutral Media Pvt. Ltd, apart from being the founder and editor-in-chief of hindiwriters.com. 

In a no holds bar Facebook post in Hindi, Abhiranjan has alleged that the channel is ‘communal’ and values free speech only for a few select persons. In the post Abhiranjan claimed that even though the channel was more news and less noise, this news was frequently ‘adulterated’.

He recounted an old news where a youth was beaten up because he entered a military compartment. Incidentally the youth named Shafqat hailed form Kashmir, this as per Abhiranjan provided ammo for the channel’s senior decision makers, who spun the news as, “A Muslim and a Kashmiri. Possibly this was the crime of Shafqat“. 

Abhiranjan claims that he opposed the inclusion of this narrative by arguing that this line spread hate, communalism and was against journalistic ethics, because the version of military was not being taken into account.

But nobody paid heed to Abhiranjan and the reason he gives is that, the story was part of a high level level planning. As claimed, a senior editor of the channel had fixed Shafqat’s meeting with then Home Minister P Chidambaram, which indeed took place.

In another instance, Abhiranjan claims, he had written an article for NDTV Khabar, post the Mumbai terror attacks. Abhiranjan claimed that like countless other Indians, he was very angry and as a result factually criticised the the UPA government policies.

That article Abhiranjan claims, went viral and was invoking a positive response. But the then editor of NDTV India soon sent an email to NDTV Khabar’s editor (it was CCed to Abhiranjan), instructing him/her to take down the piece, and the editor promptly complied.

Abhiranjan later asked the editor regarding the objections for that piece and got a cryptic reply that, “The article was very good, but you know, don’t you“. As per Abhiranjan, rumour had spread that the PMO had objected to that article and had conveyed a message seeking its removal.

Abhiranjan claims, the channel though had no issue in running hate speeches of ‘Congress leaders’ who were calling the attacks as a RSS conspiracy.

He thus claims, how he finds it amusing when his ex-employees claim they are fighting against the government. Curry favour with one government and attack another, it won’t be difficult to understand as to on whose directions are they fighting this fight, claims Abhiranjan.

In conclusion, Abhiranjan claims that the channel always promoted a selective freedom of expression and reserved very limited space for neutral writers and journalists.

Interestingly these allegation of NDTV selectively censoring voices have also surfaced earlier, when it was reported that NDTV had deleted a blog post by rebel AAP leader Kapil Mishra which was critical of AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal.

It remains to be seen whether any senior NDTV employee now comes out to rebut these serious charges, while revealing more than intended like they did, when the news about the channel potentially sacking 25% employees broke.

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