The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 12 , 2014
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‘Race slur’ charge on DD anchor

New Delhi, Feb. 11: A group of Delhi University teachers and students hailing from the Northeast have alleged racial abuse by a Doordarshan anchor at the recording of a talk show on race bias.

Prasar Bharati is probing whether Shanivar Charcha anchor Neelam Sharma, producer Subhash Jain and DD staff shouted at and “insulted” the complainants, partly because they were “not fluent in Hindi”.

The national broadcaster had invited the group to last Friday’s recording of the DD News weekend show for an episode focusing on the alleged lynching of Arunachal student Nido Tania in Delhi on January 29.

“We had been told the teachers in the group would be put on the panel but, on reaching the studio, we were told they wanted us just to be part of the audience as they had already selected six panellists,” said a member of the group who did not wish to be named.

“We protested and they started insulting us. The DD staff and particularly anchor Neelam Sharma and producer Subhash Jain were discourteous and misbehaved with us. They said we could not be on the panel since none of us are fluent in Hindi.”

He added: “It’s ironic. We had gone there to share our views on racial discrimination but were treated badly because of our race. The way we were treated and shouted at, it exposed their mindset. We later met senior officials and registered our protest.”

He said the group had asked that at least one of the teachers among them be put on the panel, which included danseuse Sonal Mansingh and columnist and filmmaker Sanjoy Hazarika.

DD News director-general S.M. Khan said a fact-finding panel headed by additional director-general Mayank Agarwal was probing the allegation.

“Both Neelam and Jain have said they never badmouthed the guests at the show and had apologised with folded hands for not being able to accommodate them on the panel,” Khan told The Telegraph.

“When one of the panellists could not be connected because of a technical snag, the staffers asked one among the Northeast group to join but they did not agree. Some of them stayed till the end of the show but most of them stormed out of the studio alleging bias.”

Sources said the group included Jeremiah Pame from Manipur, who teaches at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Topi Basar from Arunachal Pradesh, who teaches at the faculty of law, and Sengmei Pamei from Manipur, who teaches English literature at Miranda House. The students included several PhD scholars.

The complainants have threatened to go to Union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari if the broadcaster does not tender an apology. But Prasar is waiting for the probe to be completed first.