Displeased with media coverage of the Kapu agitation, the Andhra Pradesh government has ordered operators across Andhra Pradesh to block Sakshi News and No. 1 News channels.
According to K Ramachandra Murthy, Editorial Director, Sakshi Media Group, Sakshi News has been blocked in the state for the last four days. “Our channel was blocked soon after we telecast Kapu leader and ex-Minister Mudragada Padmanabhan’s protest for Kapu reservations.”
Murthy said that the government’s actions in this situation follow the pattern of past government reactions to strong agitations in the Telugu states. “Earlier the same thing happened with ABN Andhrajyothi and TV9 in Telangana, now it’s happening with our channel. It is undemocratic. We demand immediate restoration of Sakshi TV and other blocked channels in AP otherwise we will take legal actions against it''.
Mudragada intensified his protest on Sunday with an indefinite fast on Sunday morning, demanding implementation of reservations for Kapus and the withdrawal of cases against those previously arrested for participating in the agitation. He was soon arrested by the police from his residence.
A delegation from the YSR Congress that tried to meet the Kapu leader was detained at Rajahmundry airport according to a media statement from the party.
The Deputy CM and Home Minister, N Chinna Rajappa, had characterised the coverage of the Kapu agitation by Sakshi News as exciting tempers and causing problems in the state. He reportedly said that the channel was inciting people and trying to create law and order problems.
“The channel (Sakshi News) will be revived only after Mudragada calls off his fast,” the Home Minister was quoted as saying.
Journalists, primarily from Sakshi News, reportedly staged protests and took out rallies in various places including Chittoor and Vishakapatnam to condemn the actions of the government.
The YSR Congress also issued a media statement calling the actions of the government “highly condemnable”. Party Spokesperson Ambati Rambabu told reporters on Sunday, “The MSOs (Multi Signal Operators) coming under pressure from the government and police in blocking the channels and the state ministers openly telling that the channels will not be restored until Mudragada Padmanabhan’s fast is over is highly condemnable.”
He added that any channel had to be given 21 days’ notice before it was blocked, and that the interference of the government was highly deplorable. He urged the MSOs not to yield to political and police pressure.
He also said that the government’s reaction to Mudragada’s fast and its efforts to prevent political leaders from meeting Mudragada sent dangerous signals.