A public protest was organised in front of the radio station in Dibrugarh under the initiative of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Tuesday following the move by Prasar Bharati reassigning the All India Radio (AIR) in Dibrugarh to a relay centre from a full-fledged station.
Members of various students’ organisation, local public and scores of casual artists and programmers of the radio station participated in the demonstration.
Carrying placards and banners, the protestors demanded that the AIR Dibrugarh should be allowed to function in its present status as a full-fledged station.
Recently Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had moved the Union information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar over Prasar Bharati’s directives for reassigning All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) in Dibrugarh as relay centres only saying that the move will curtail their capacity to produce their own programmes and would only broadcast or telecast AIR and DDK, Guwahati’s programmes.
Commissioned on February 15, 1968, AIR Dibrugarh is the 6th largest medium wave radio station in India broadcasting in both Am (567kHz) at 529.1 meters of MW) and FM (101.30 MHz) bands airing three transmissions a day along with a 5-minute regional news bulletin at 6pm every day.
The station has its studio located at Malakhubosa in Dibrugarh and the high power transmision tower is located at Lepetkata near the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited.
At the end of Tuesday’s protest, a memorandum was despatched to Union information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal through the Deputy Commissioner.
The memorandum signed by All Dibrugarh Students’ Union president Rupjyoti Borthakur and general secretary Gunjan Mech stated,”On behalf of the people of Dibrugarh and the greater students community we would like to mention that AIR Dibrugarh is one of the largest and strategically important radio stations of northeast India. The radio station had always played a vital role in countering Chinese propaganda. The aerial distance between Dibrugarh and China border along Arunachal Pradesh is just about 400 km.Therefore from the national and strategic point of view the station is more important and very much essential to counter the Chinese cultural expansion. Since majority of people of Assam and northeast India belong to the Chinese Mongoloid origin therefore there is every possibility of expansion of cultural imperialism here by the Chinese counterparts. To create a strong feeling of nationalism and to foster the national unity in cultural diversity of these people in north east India especially upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the Dibrugarh radio station should be further developed.”
The memorandum further read, “In addition to the permanent staff, more than 2,000 casual artists, programmers and workers rely on AIR Dibrugarh for their livelihood. There are more than 1 crore permanent listeners. The radio station produces its own programmes and is airing 3 transmissions of 15 hours duration a day. The indigenous and ethnic cultural programmes including folk music broadcast by the Dibrugarh radio station have benefitted large number of people residing mostly in upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. If such programmes are stopped more than 2,000 artists and programmers will become jobless. Hence, it is regrettable that Prasar Bharati has decided to stop in-house production of AIR Dibrugarh and keep it only as a relay station airing programme from Guwahati.”