Kathmandu: The Nepalese authorities have banned the telecast of a popular comedy TV show, "Tito Satya" (Bitter Truth), for reportedly satirizing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The 576th episode of "Tito Satya", scheduled to be aired Thursday evening, was abruptly taken off after officials of the state-owned Nepal Television (NTV) found some objectionable remarks in the episode, the plot of which was basically dedicated to how Modi brings development in Nepal and how the political leadership of Nepal was trying to make money out of the funds being released by Modi.
Since his two visits to Nepal in August and during the 18th Saarc Summit last month, Modi has caught the imagination of the Nepalese populace with his speeches and successful injection of over $3 billion in investment in Nepal.
Producer and popular comedian of the show Dipak Raj Giri said the NTV officials accused him of including content that was targeted at Modi, saying that such content might create unnecessary disputes among the public at large.
"It is against the freedom of expression and our constitutional rights. Even Modi has been watching several such programmes in India that were satirising him. American presidents do watch such parodies and satirical programmes produced on them. Let's honour Modi, don't be sycophantic to him," said Giri.
Giri, renowned for making humorous programmes, had lost his job from another state-owned entity, Radio Nepal, after cracking jokes against parliamentarians some years ago.
"It (Nepal) is a democratic country and we have all rights to enjoy and to make satire on anyone," he said in his reaction published on his Facebook page on Friday.
"We are comedians and we are permanent opposition in democracy as well as we have to alert people in various walks of life too," Giri, who was upset by the censorship, said adding that he has done nothing that could damage Nepal's cordial relations with India.
He also stated that his programme was not targeted against the social fabric of Nepal or Hindi-speaking people.
NTV officials told him that his programme tried to dishonour the neighbouring leader and also raised objections over use of Hindi language in some parts of the episode.
In the banned episode, a Modi-like character appears somewhere in rural Nepal, which totally lacks development.
His appearance comes as a boon to village -- he announces huge aid for the development of the village. After his announcement, the villagers and political parties come together to develop their village. But they never stop making commissions out of the money that comes for the various projects.
In reality, after just six months at the helm, Modi has successfully injected $3 billion investment in Nepal for various sectors.
Similarly, the episode also depicts the developmental narrative of Nepal, how commissions and speed money worked in securing sanctions for projects.
"I tried to justify how commission and corruption have mired our developmental endeavours. In fact, it is not satirising the Indian prime minister," Giri clarified.