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Modi govt scraps Al Jazeera’s security clearance, channel files review petition with Home Ministry: Reports

As reported by The Economic Times, the government has withdrawn the Al Jazeera’s English television channel’s security clearance, because of which the channel will need to stop its broadcast in the country.

As per reports, the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting haven’t officially given a reason for the cancellation of security clearance. Per Economic Times, however, the decision could have come after the channel aired a documentary on Kashmir which was deemed to be biased.

The channel’s unapprehended destiny depends on the ruling of the Home Ministry on the review petition filed by Al Jazeera. For any channel to broadcast in India it needs a security clearance from the Home Ministry while the broadcasting license is issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

According to official documents, Al Jazeera English, run by AJI International Pvt Ltd, had received a security clearance from the Home Ministry on the 3rd of December 2010, during the Congress regime, which was later withdrawn on 29th May 2018 during the PM Modi led NDA regime.

Previously too, in 2015 the channel was suspended for five days because it showed an incorrect map of India with respect to Jammu and Kashmir. Al Jazeera was suspended because it was a repeat offence, an official said. The channel showed a blank screen for five days with a message to this effect: “As instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on April 22 till 00.01 hours on April 27, 2015.”

Al Jazeera English is an offshoot of the Qatar-based Arabic Al Jazeera channel, which has often been a target of ire in the Middle East. It’s been described as one of the factors in the ongoing Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Qatar.

Until June this year, India has given 867 private satellite TV channels permission for uplinking and downlinking contents. However, Permissions for 236 have been withdrawn due to various reasons such as the channel owner seeking cancellation, non-operationalisation of the channel, non-submission of documents and other reasons, out of which 147 channels were cancelled between 2015 and June 2018.

Last month, after much prodding by the Information and Broadcasting ministry, thirty television channels which carry Islamic and Pakistani content, including Zakir Naik’s Peace TV, have been banned in Jammu and Kashmir, following the issuance of an order by the Additional District Commissioner of Srinagar.

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