The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), through the news organisation it supports, Hindusthan Samachar, has “almost captured” India’s national broadcaster Prasar Bharati, according to a joint statement from the National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ).
Both the Prasar Bharati-run All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan have a contract with Hindusthan Samachar to provide news. The lesser-known organisation was picked over long-standing organisations like the United News of India and the Press Trust of India (PTI) (UNI).
In the statement, NAJ and DUJ said, “This move … will saffronise news in India to suit the ruling party and kill neutral and independent journalism. Hindusthan Samachar was born in 1948 to manufacture consent in favour of the RSS ideology, which dominates in the current ruling dispensation.”
“Doordarshan and AIR have their own set of correspondents in the national and state capitals, assisted by a large bulk of news coverage by Press Trust of India (PTI) and United News of India(UNI), from India and abroad. However since the present government came into power the situation has drastically changed, phase by phase, with attempts to dictate terms to these newagencies. Prasar Bharti’s subscription to PTI has been stopped. UNI has been deliberately neglected, it’s finances are in disarray and many journalists have lost their jobs while some are working for a pittance,” the bodies said in a statement.
“It may be recalled that Hindustan Samachar, a multi-lingual news agency, was founded in 1948 by Shivram Shankar Apte, a senior RSS pracharak and co-founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad along with RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar,” the statement said.
“Ever since the Modi government came to power, Hindustan Samachar has been a regular beneficiary of government advertisements and other forms of patronage, while earlier it was fighting for survival,” the journalist bodies said.
The journalist bodies said that “the move to give it the role of primary news supplier to the nation will further saffronise, communalise and polarise Indian society and politics and “it constitutes a grave danger to political parties in opposition to the ruling party too.”