Life has become difficult for Doordarshan journalist Satyendra Murli since he claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation announcing demonetisation was recorded and not live telecast.
Murli claims to have been getting death threats over the phone, with some callers allegedly threatening to abduct him. He has also become the target of a vicious hate campaign on social media; his Facebook page is flooded with abusive messages.
Murli had told a press conference at the Press Club of India, Delhi, on 24 November that Modi's 8 November speech had been pre-recorded. "I had publicised my cellphone number during the press conference. Most of the calls I received after the conference were congratulatory, but dozens of callers issued threats and hurled abuses at me," the journalist told Catch.
Murli has apprised Doordarshan officials about the matter, but has refrained from filing a police complaint for "personal reasons". "I am taking measures to protect myself," he said.
The day after his press conference, Murli reported to the Doordarshan office at Copernicus Road, Delhi, for his 1.30 pm shift. An hour later, he was called to meet the newsroom director and left for home at 5.45 pm. Apparently, a colleague warned that Murli could be manhandled in the office, so he'll no longer work the "routine shifts". Murli, who is from Jaipur, has been with Doordarshan since 2013.
Speaking to Catch, Murli reiterated that Modi's speech had not been telecast live, and insisted that he had enough evidence to prove the allegation.
Going to court
He's now preparing to take the matter to court and has approached a Supreme Court lawyer for representation.
Asked why he made the allegation two weeks after the speech, Murli claimed he had been gathering evidence. Now, he claimed, he possesses documentary, audio and video proof.
A few people working at DD whom Catch spoke with confirmed Murli's accusation. One person claimed his boss had told him this over the phone.
Here are Murli's claims:
The prime minister's speech was written many days before it was telecast. There is ample evidence to prove it was recorded and edited before being aired.
The media was asked to telecast the speech on the live band. All news channels, including Doordarshan, followed the instruction.
It follows, thus, that the decision on demonetisation had been taken well in advance. The government's claim that the Reserve Bank of India sent its formal recommendation to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes only at 6 pm on 8 November and the cabinet approved it at 7 pm is bogus.
An examination of the video footage of Modi's speech reveals several editing cuts, which were hidden with visual effects.
No reply to RTI application
Murli alleged that the decision on the speech was taken by the PMO. But it refused to answer his RTI query about this. Instead, the RTI application was forwarded to the I&B ministry and the finance department.
Murli has raised the following questions in his RTI application:
Was the prime minister's speech telecast live on the evening of 8 November?
If so, the raw footage of the speech must be released or permission granted to view it.
When was the decision of demonetisation taken? All the related documents must be made public.
When was the decision to print the new Rs 2000 notes taken? The relevant documents must be made available.
Were The Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and the provisions of the RBI Act, 1934 followed in this regard?
Was the notification to print Rs 2000 notes issued?