Written bySiddhant Pandey
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on Friday temporarily banned the two channels, accusing them of "biased" reportage during the recent violence in Northeast Delhi that could "enhance communal disharmony."
The violence was spurred by the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Quoting a source in the I&B Ministry, PTI reported that the ban on Asianet was lifted at 1:30 am on Saturday, while the one on Media One was lifted at 9.30 am.
The two channels had reportedly approached the Ministry seeking a revocation of the ban, following which, the ban was lifted.
Later, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government values press freedom.
Javadekar said, "Our basic thought process is that the freedom of the press is absolutely essential in the democratic set-up and that is the commitment of the Modi government."
He added, "I will definitely go into the details and take essential steps if there is any wrongdoing. But let me also tell you that everybody should accept that there has to be responsible freedom."
The Minister also spoke on the 1975-1977 Emergency period in India, when the press was censored and political opponents were imprisoned.
Many had likened the ban on Asianet and Media One to the censor during the Emergency.
Javadekar said the media was suppressed in the days of the Emergency adding, "We went to jails against that and we secured the freedom of the press."
On Friday, the Ministry had prohibited the transmission or re-transmission of Media One and Asianet News from 7:30 pm for 48 hours till 7:30 pm on Sunday.
The news channels were suspended for alleged biased coverage of the communal violence in Northeast Delhi in late-February.
The Ministry order stated that attacks on places of worship were highlighted "siding towards a particular community."
The order issued against Media One stated, that the channel is "deliberately focusing on the vandalism of CAA supporters." It added, "It also questions RSS and alleges Delhi Police inaction. Channel seems to be critical towards Delhi Police and RSS."
Media One editor-in-chief CL Thomas had described the ban as the "biggest encroachment of a government on freedom of the media" and drew parallels to the Emergency period.
Slamming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Subjugate, stifle, suppress is the 'mantra' of BJP! Is this 'New India'?"
CPI general secretary D Raja said, "This is fascism in action."
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