The state-run television channel ‘Vivek Kannan’ was facing complaints from viewers when it launched a controversial programme on the eve of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, according to a report.
The programme, which aired on January 10, was titled ‘Grah-aap ko bhi kya aur sangeet bhi jagad ho hain’, which translates to ‘The truth is always there’.
It featured the Indian film actress Anupam Kher (who was banned from appearing in films in 2014 for wearing a niqab) who was on a visit to Delhi, where she had a conversation with a friend, who was a BJP leader.
Kher asked the friend if she was not allowed to go to the film festival because she was wearing a veil, which was against the religion of Islam.
Khan then asked the woman why she was being punished.
The friend replied that she was only wearing it because of the religion.
Kher said that if the film were shown in other countries, it would not be allowed.
The conversation continued and the audience was told that the film was ‘anti-national’.
The programme also showed the BJP leader’s daughter sitting in a chair in the middle of a road, wearing a hijab, which is banned in India.
The actress later claimed that the stunt was a publicity stunt.
In a statement on Tuesday, VK Media said: ‘Kher was invited by the film-makers and the filmmakers to discuss the film’s contents.
She was also asked to remove her hijab, a Muslim headscarf, and the film makers had to cut the video.
Kashmiri people were also offended by the content of the programme, the statement added.
‘The film makers apologised and said that the programme was a ‘propaganda film’.’
This is not the first time that the media has been criticized for such stunts.
In 2013, a film-maker from Maharashtra had to apologise after she went to a cinema to show her film ‘Achchi bhoomi’ which was banned in the country.
The company has faced numerous complaints about its news programmes over the years.
In 2014, a group of media personalities, including Vibrant Gujarat, which runs the state-backed news channel, ‘Vivaldi’, had written to the state government to ask for the programme’s cancellation.
Vivalda Vadher, the chairperson of the state TV channel, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times that it was ‘not acceptable’ for a state broadcaster to broadcast programmes which are controversial and offensive to minority communities.
The channel has been a frequent target of online attacks by right-wing trolls who have called it a mouthpiece of the RSS.