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‘Racial’ heat on Doordarshan

New Delhi, Feb. 11: Acting on a complaint filed by a group of Delhi University teachers and students hailing from the Northeast — who accused Doordarshan of being discourteous towards them and showing “racial bias” after inviting them for a talk show on DD News — Prasar Bharati has formed a fact-finding committee to look into the allegations.

According to a source, the incident took place on Friday when a group of teachers and students were invited to participate in a talk show Shanivar Charcha on DD News on racial discrimination in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Nido Tania from Arunachal Pradesh in Delhi.

Nido was beaten up by a group of shopkeepers in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area when he got into an argument with the accused after being teased on his appearance and later succumbed to his injuries. The group alleged that the anchor of the show, Neelam Sharma, misbehaved with them and passed racial remarks when they protested being in the audience and demanded that at least one of the teachers be put on the panel which included danseuse Sonal Mansingh and columnist-filmmaker Sanjoy Hazarika.

Sources said Jeremiah Pame, who teaches at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Topi Basar from Arunachal Pradesh, who teaches law and Miranda House teacher Sengmei Pamei who is from Manipur and teaches English literature, were also part of the group.

“We were told that the teachers would be put on the panel but on reaching, the studio we were told that they just wanted us to be part of the audience as they had already selected six panellists. When we protested, they started insulting us. The DD staff, particularly anchor Sharma and producer of the show Subhash Jain, were discourteous and they misbehaved with us. They said we cannot be on the panel since none of us are fluent in Hindi,” said a member of the group who did not wish to be named. He added: “It is ironical that while we had gone there to share our views on racial discrimination, we were treated badly because of our race. This is really unacceptable. The way we were treated and shouted at, it exposed their mindset. We later met senior officials in the public broadcaster and registered our protest.”

Doordarshan director-general S.M. Khan meanwhile said that a panel headed by additional director-general Mayank Agarwal is now probing the allegations.

“Neelam and Jain have defended themselves saying that they never badmouthed the guests called for the show and apologised with folded hands for not accommodating them on the panel. When one of the panellists could not be connected because of a technical snag, staffers asked one in the group to join but they did not agree. Some of them had even stayed till the end of the show, but most of them stormed out of the studio alleging bias. Now a high-level inquiry is on and it will be probe from all angles,” he told The Telegraph.

The complainants — which included many Phd students enrolled with DU — have also threatened to go to information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari if the broadcaster does not tender an apology.


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