Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revoked security clearance of Qatar government’s state-funded English news broadcaster Al Jazeera. It is believed that main reason for this revocation is considered to be over documentary made by Qatari channel on militancy in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which Indian Government viewed as “biased”. Al Jazeera has reportedly filed petition for reviewing this decision.
Note: The role of MHA is limited to matter related to security clearance. The decision on cancellation of broadcasting licence of news channel is taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Foreign channels need security clearance from MHA and broadcasting clearance from Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Al Jazeera’s security clearance was valid from December 3, 2010, and expired on May 29, 2018. Earlier also Al Jazeera had was involved into controversy with Indian government before. In 2015, it had published an incorrect map of J&K. For this, Government had then suspended it for 5 days in which time they carried blank screen with a message running on it as instructed by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Some other channels who were rejected security clearances recently include ABC News, Focus NE TV, Voice of Nation, Jhankar News, Maa TV, Bhakti Sagar, M Tunes and Lemon News. In some cases channels have their permissions withdrawn for other reasons too such as owners seeking cancellations, non-operationalisation of channel, non-submission of documents.
MEA May 2018 notification
In May 2018, Ministry of External Affairs had reminded foreign journalists that it is mandatory for them to take prior permission before travelling to areas such as J&K as well as Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan as these are considered protected and restricted areas.