The Centre on Monday said that people in India at present used the freedom of speech to call the prime minister a "khoon ka dalal [trader of blood]". Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu made the statement in reference to Congress Vice President accusing Narendra Modi of using the death of Indian soldiers in Kashmir for political gains.
His comments come in the wake of criticism against the central government's decision to impose a one-day ban on NDTV India for its coverage of the Pathankot attack. "...We are worried about daylight portrayal of terror activities with running commentary on the whereabouts of our ammo depot, etc," Naidu said. The Union minister had earlier said that the criticism was politically motivated. "Democracy has never been this vibrant. People from all walks of life feel that they have a say in government issues," he added.
Naidu also said that the Congress had "no right to criticise" the decision made by a panel of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. "They [The Congress] curtailed press and civil freedom during the Emergency [in 1975]. As many as 21 channels were banned during the regime of the United Progressive Alliance," he said, adding that the party was frustrated because it was "losing state after state".
Earlier on Monday, NDTV filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the I&B Ministry order asking it to shut down its Hindi channel NDTV India for a day as penalty for revealing "strategically-sensitive" information while covering the Pathankot attack in January. NDTV questioned whether the direction was constitutional and challenged "the provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed".
TV channels are prohibited from "live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces". Broadcasters are only allowed to provide "periodic briefings by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes".