The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Tuesday organized a public protest in front of the All India Radio (AIR) station in Dibrugarh against Prasar Bharati’s move to reassign the station to a relay centre.
Members of various students’ organisations, local public and several casual artists and programmers of the radio station participated in the demonstration.
Carrying placards and banners, the protestors demanded that the AIR Dibrugarh be allowed to function in its present capacity as a full-fledged station.
Recently Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal had moved the Union information and broadcasting minister, Prakash Javadekar over Prasar Bharati’s directives to reassign AIR and Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) in Dibrugarh as relay centres only.
Sonowal had said that the move would 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 .
The radio station produces its own programmes and airs three transmissions of 15 hours duration a day.
The station’s studio is located at Malakhubosa in Dibrugarh and the high power transmission tower is located at Lepetkata.
The protestors also submitted a memorandum addressed to Prakash Javadekar and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal through the deputy commissioner.
The memorandum 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 North East India.”
The radio station had always played a vital role in countering Chinese propaganda, the memorandum stated.
The aerial distance between Dibrugarh and Indo-China bordering Arunachal Prades is about 400 km.
“Since the majority of people of Assam and North East India belong to the Chinese Mongoloid origin, there is every possibility of the Chinese trying to expand cultural imperialism here,” said All Dibrugarh Students’ Union president Rupjyoti Borthakur.
“The Dibrugarh radio station should be further developed to foster the spirit of nationalism among the people of the North East,” he said.
In addition to the permanent staff, more than 2,000 casual artists, programmers and workers rely on AIR Dibrugarh for their livelihood.
The station caters to than 1 crore permanent listeners.
“If indigenous and ethnic cultural programmes are stopped, more than 2,000 artists and programmers will become jobless,” said All Dibrugarh Students’ Union general secretary, Gunjan Mech.