Jun 19, 2007 at 07:54pm IST

AP tries to muzzle the media, bows

New Delhi:The Andhra Pradesh Government was on Friday forced to withdraw an order which said it could prosecute newspapers and TV channels if they carried 'defamatory news' against it.

According to the GO No. 938, issued on February 20, the state government had full right to prosecute a newspaper or a news channel.

The implementation of the GO, called Media Watch, was to be monitored by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S R Reddy.

However, the Government was forced to take back the order after it found that it would create a huge controversy and unite Opposition parties and civic groups against it.

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly was also adjourned after the Opposition parties created ruckus and demanded government apology for having issued the order in the first place.

Opposition parties also staged a dharna ourtside the Assembly protesting the attempt.

However, the Chief Minister, on being contacted, said he was not aware of any such order. The state’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry also claimed ignorance.

"I am not aware of any GO and will ask the chief secretary to look into this matter and investigate how this has been issued. People are unnecessary making issue out of this," said Reddy.

The GO comes amid Wednesday’s police raids on a company owned by C Ramoji Rao, editor of Telugu daily Eenadu and a critic of the Reddy government.

The Eenadu paper had last year published reports alleging that Chief Minister Reddy and his family members owned thousands of acres of benami land.

Reddy was forced to return some of the land in Hyderabad and has since then been targeting the Eenadu group.

The Criminal Investigation Department on Wednesday searched the offices of Margadarsi Financiers, a company owned Ramoji.

Police officials said the CID raid was done to get documents proving that company had raised deposits in excess of Rs.20 billion in violation of RBI regulations.

The Editors Guild of India has condemned the Government’s harassment of the Eenadu group.

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