NEW DELHI: The government has moved to ban NDTV India for one day, seemingly as a sort of “punishment” for the channel’s coverage of the Pathankot terror attack. The move has been widely condemned, with journalists and citizens at large accusing the government of imposing an ‘undeclared emergency’ of sorts in its bid to counter narratives that deviate even slightly from the official line.

The most powerful criticism of the ban, however, has come from the man whom many link to it in the first place, namely, Ravish Kumar, who has stood up for independent journalism in no uncertain way. As a mark of protest, Kumar hosted an unusual yet brilliant show on prime time TV.

The show began with Kumar questioning how authority can at all be above scrutiny (side note: watch Raj Kamal Jha’s recent speech on the role of the media, my favourite quote from which is “criticism from the government is a badge of honour for journalists).

Kumar then turned two his panelists, two incomprehensible mimes who became the symbols for Kumar’s larger point: “If we can’t ask questions, what can we do?” Kumar referred to his guests as “troll babus” -- indicative of the worrying trend confronting the media today, where narratives that do not fall within the official government line are met with an online flurry of abuse and vitriol at the hands (literally) of anonymous social media entities.

As Kumar questions the mimes, they get more and more agitated. With a mix of funny and poignant questions, Kumar demonstrates his point effortlessly. The show is a dig at those who berate and abuse the media for questioning things. “If we don’t ask questions, how will we get answers?” Kumar says again, this time in response to the mimes threatening to make a samosa out of him.

In another part of the segment, Kumar addresses one panelist, only for the other to respond. “I question you, and the troll starts speaking,” Kumar interjects. “Ah, the troll is the only authority. Not you?” Kumar continues as the panelists respond through gestures and facial expressions. Kumar then understands that “you’re both the same. Troll and authority are both one and the same” as the mimes explain their dynamic.

Kumar’s larger point of “If we can’t ask questions, what can we do?” is a direct response to MoS, Home Ministry, Kiren Rijiju explanation of the ban on NDTV India. Rijiju had said, “We should stop this habit of raising doubts, questioning the authorities and the police. This is not a good culture.”