BENGALURU, July 06: “Safety of journalists continues to be a cause of concern and our demand for a special protection law needs a greater push which needs pressure on the government to pay heed to the demand”, Indian Journalists Union (IJU) general secretary Sabina Inderjit said on Saturday.
Cases against harassment, attacks and killing of journalists just don’t seem to ebb, while addressing inaugural session of two-day IJU national executive council (NEC) at REVA University here, and highlighted latest case of burning to death of journalist Chakresh Jain in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh for his reportage, allegedly by a district level state government officer on June 20.
Though the SP set up a SIT, there has been no progress, she said and recalled 2015 case in which rural journalist Sandeep Kothari was burnt to death in Balaghat district and his body left near a rail track.
The IJU demanded that journalists Anuj Shukla and Ishita Singh of noida-based news channel Nation Live and freelance journalist Peer Mohammad of Gorakhpur district, who were arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police under BJP Govt for airing footage of woman speaking to newsmen and for posting it on social media, claiming that she proposed marriage to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath be released immediately.
Delhi-based freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was also arrested by UP Police on June 8 for posting on twitter the woman’s, was granted bail by the Supreme Court. Though, the SC said that freedom of expression and other rights guaranteed in Constitution “are sacrosanct and non-negotiable” while granting bail, the above trio was not so lucky and languishing in jail. This proves growing intolerance of ruling elite against perceived adverse reporting and contrary opinion in the media, she said.
Locals in Chandigarh recently deliberately targeted journalists and photo-journalists with water cannons to prevent them from covering protest by political parties against the Govt, she recalled and added that it amounted to attack on press freedom and censorship.
The IJU condemned arbitrary arrest of veteran Kashmiri editor Ghulam Jeelani Qadri of daily Afaaq in a late night raid on his home by the police in Srinagar on June 24, in a 1992 case, 27 years ago.
Though he was released on bail by CJM as the police was unable to provide any clear details and specific justification for his arrest, the IJU demanded a probe and has written to Press Council India) to take suo moto notice as the action negated the rule of law in the State, now under President’s rule.”
Highlighting the attacks on digital media, she said while both man and woman journalists are being trolled online if their views are against ruling dispensation, women seem to face the bigger brunt not only with sexiest remarks but also threats of rape.The IJU demanded that the real people behind such trolling armies should be brought to book.
She questioned the coverage of general and assembly elections in few states by the media. The media failed to build public opinion on issues that matter. Instead, what we saw and read in the media was what the ruling Govt of the Centre and states wanted it to say. The focus was on campaigning and claims of the party in power rather than the media taking a close look at the issues which were at stake for the public, she added.
Representatives from 15 states unions affiliated to IJU presented their state report on the first day presided by IJU president Amar Devulapalli.
Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists president Amar Sangno in his report highlighted union initiated activities and recent meeting with Chief Minister Pema Khandu who assured to look into demands of working journalists. Arunachal Press Club president Dodum Yangfo and NEC member Taya Bagang were also attended the meeting, hosted by Karnataka State journalists Union.
Earlier, REVA University chancellor Dr. P Shyama Raju, in his inaugural address said, “This university dreams to produce good journalists”.