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Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | February 24, 2015 | 8.40 am IST Three well-known human rights campaigners have decided to boycott Times Now, accusing the channel and its editor in chief of subjecting them to hate speech and curbing their right to be heard on the channel when invited to speak. Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association Kavita Krishnan and People’s Union for Civil Liberties member Kavita Srivastava have decided to boycott the channel following their participation in the News Hour programme on two separate days last week. Krishnan said that lawyer Vrinda Grover had also decided to boycott the channel, and said that they would not participate in a discussion on the allegations against R K Pachauri. Read: ET pulls down story on harassment charges against RK Pachauri after court injunction, screenshots galore on Twitter Speaking to The News Minute, Krishnan said that she had participated in a panel discussion on the News Hour on the Indian government’s treatment of Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai and came away disturbed by the way the show had unfolded. She said that as she argued in a piece she wrote for opinion website Kafila, the channel had not adhered to the norms formulated by the National Broadcasters’ Association. Krishnan said: “Two people on the show, RSN Singh and General Bakshi repeatedly called us (Krishnan and two other human rights campaigners) anti-national. I repeatedly protested, but this dint stop. (Rather), it was echoed and amplified by the anchor.” Asked about her objections to the use of the term “anti-national”, Krishnan said: “If someone wants to talk about what is in the national interest, I can have a rational discussion on that. I have my views whether certain actions taken by the government are in the national interest or not. But ‘anti-national’ is an emotive word that cannot be used lightly. No court of law can define what ‘anti-national’ means. It is used as a hate word; it is meant to suggest that this person is not worthy of being heard.” Watch the video here: She said that the manner in which the panel discussion progressed was nothing but “unlimited hate speech on the panel”. She said that she did not expect the anchor to agree with the views of the panel members, but added that the panelists who had been invited to participate should to at least be allowed to speak.  Kavita Srivastava, who was a panelist on the show the next day on the same subject, said that her voiced was “drowned”. She also alleged that she and two others were not allowed to speak at all. “When a question was asked to me, they (channel) would lower the volume, so that you could see my lips move but not hear me speak. They had set up one person to attack me when I began to speak,” Srivastava alleged. Read- Activists vs Arnab Goswami Part II: Now an open letter She added: “You can ridicule us, laugh at us, humiliate us, but allow us to counter that, no? You can have different views, but at least hear us out. He (Arnab Goswami) called us on the channel. You can attack us for our arguments, but not letting us speak?” Watch the video:  Srivastava said that “this attitude has to change”. “The government silences us, and even the media silences us.” She said that she was “not interested” in appearing for panel discussions in future, although she said that she wasn’t sure of a time frame. “We are not there to be whipped when you want,” Srivastava said. Saying that it was meaningless to be called “anti-national on one day, and a champion of women’s rights the next”, Krishnan said that she and others would issue a public statement demanding that news channels adhere to the norms specified by the National Broadcasters’ Association and that their present decision to boycott Times Now was to meant to target the channel or its editor in chief Arnab Goswami. (This report was amended on February 24, at 5.14 pm to reflect the point that the decision of the three activists had been taken in the context of another invitation to appear on The News Hour. When asked, both Kavita Krishnan and Kavita Srivastava had said that they were not sure how long they would refuse to appear on the channel.) Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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