Regulators

Former I&B minister Pramod Mahajan shot at by brother, remains critical

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MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: Senior BJP leader and former information & broadcasting (I&B) minister Pramod Mahajan was shot this morning (Saturday) and remains in a critical condition.

Mahajan was shot at by his youngest brother Pravin with a Brownie pistol after an argument at the BJP leader's apartment in Mumbai's upscale Worli area at around 8 am, news channels have reported.
The 56-year-old former I&B minister reportedly has four bullets lodged in his body and has suffered grievous injury to his liver, pancreas and intestines. He underwent a nearly four-hour operation at Mumbai's Hinduja Hospital where he was administered nearly 25 bottles of blood due to the heavy internal bleeding he suffered in the attack. Doctors have not removed the bullets yet and will take a call on that only after keeping him under observation for the next 48 hours.

It was on Mahajan's watch that Star India in 1998-99 made its first concerted effort to get a direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast service going with its ISkyB venture. Mahajan had in end-1998 indicated that DTH clearances would come within two-and-a-half months.

Doordarshan's news channel is also a brain child of Mahajan, who floated the idea in 1999. The idea of starting such a channel was mooted immediately after the BJP came to power in March 1998. Mahajan gave the green signal for starting the channel after he became I&B minister in December.

It was also Mahajan who got the idea to upgrade the facilities of Kashmir DD centre to counter Pakistani propaganda unleashed by Pakistan's state broadcaster PTV in 1999-2000. Though a dedicated Kashmir channel was started with the help of private broadcasters when Arun Jaitley became the I&B minister after Mahajan in 2000, the former had sanctioned a $100m package for the upgradation of DD Kashmir's centre.

After Mahajan was shifted to the telecom ministry, holding also the infotec portfolio, he expressly scotched an idea of merging the telecom and I&B ministry to form an ICE ministry for the proposed convergence era.

It is not wise to make one out of three important ministries of telecom, information and broadcasting and information technology, especially in view of the amount of work involved and number of employees associated, Mahajan had said while opposing a merger of the three ministries.

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