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PRESIDENT'S DESK SECRETARY GEN.
Ras Bihari
Ras Bihari
President

Over 35 years with the mainstream newspapers, including 20 years with Dainik Hindustan, in different capacities. Metro Edit
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Prasanna Mohanty
Prasanna Mohanty

Senior Journalist and Political analyst.

 


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Complaint against harassment of media persons during the COVID- 19 pandemic by State Authorities reg. << पीछे जाइए

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             To,                                                                                                                           Dated:23/05/2020

Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad ji,

Chairman, Press Council of India,

New Delhi.

Subject: Complaint against harassment of media persons during the COVID- 19 pandemic by State Authorities reg.

Respected sir,

The National Union of Journalists (India), the representative body of working journalists across the country, would like to bring the Press Council’s kind and urgent attention amid lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19, the pandemic that many journalists have been arrested in different states on false and fabricated charges.

As we ensure freedom of the press and fulfill their commitment towards a free and fair media but recent rising incidents of arrest, false cases against journalists in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra are very much shocking and alarming. It becoming raising question that if the media persons are not allowed to work freely how democracy can function in the country.

In this regard, NUJ(I) is of the view that the threat to prosecute media personnel, in general, shall demoralize the journalists in large which shall have severe conduct on the freedom of the press.

Details of the cases :

1. In Tamil Nadu a reporter of Sathyam TV, Mr. Bhaskar, sustained serious injuries in an attack by police personnel at Krishnagiri of Tamil Nadu. His cameras were taken away by authorities. Another reporter of SUN TV, Mr. Damodaran, was arrested at Minjur of Thiruvallur District of TN on April 8, 2020 while on duty. He was also remanded into judicial custody. Our NUJ(TN) unit has informed that various incidents of harassment of media persons came into the light where several journalists were taken into custody under the Epidemic disease Act. Mr. A.S.R. Pandian, founder, and publisher of the news website "Simplicity" publishing from Coimbatore District of TN was arrested and remanded to judicial custody. Another two Journalists of the same news portal were detained at a Police station and subjected to prolonged questioning.  

2. In Gujarat as per media reports, Dhaval Patel, editor, and owner of the news portal - &
39;Face of the Nation&
39; - was detained and later on arrested by Gujarat Police for publishing an article allegedly against Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. In the article, the editor, while analyzing different situations and developments, articulated that Mr. Rupani likely to be replaced by Union Minister Mansukh Mandviya as the top bosses of the BJP were unhappy with his Covid-19 pandemic management.

3. In Himachal Pradesh 14 FIRs against five reporters during the lockdown period. Nalagarh-based Jagat Bains, who reports for News 18 Himachal and BBN Real News, has been booked thrice by Baddi police. – In neighboring Baddi, Om Sharma, a former reporter at Divya Himachal, has also been booked thrice — Vishal Anand, a reporter for Aaj Tak, has two FIRs against him, both registered on the complaint of Dalhousie SDM.

4. In Jammu & Kashmir the police in the Bandipora district arrested Mushtaq Ganaie, a reporter with the English-language privately held Daily Kashmir Observer, on allegations of obstructing police, violating the COVID-19 lockdown, and spreading the virus.

5. In Maharashtra, a mob in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district attacked Balasaheb Navgire, a freelance reporter, after he reported on a family that was quarantined due to COVID-19. Rahul Kulkarni, a reporter with Marathi-language privately held news channel ABP Majha, for alleged “rumor-mongering,” according to the Indian Express. The arrest stemmed from Kulkarni’s reporting that railways may open new trains for migrants stuck in large cities.

6. In UP, Uttar Pradesh government has filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Today 24 news journalist Ravindra Saxena for his report highlighting the mismanagement of a quarantine center in the Sitapur district. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists- India condemn the FIR on false accusations and call on the UP government to withdraw the criminal proceedings against the journalist.

We, the National Union of Journalists (India) urges the Press Council of India to order an inquiry of the entire incidents as these are a threat to democracy. We feel it is an attack on democracy. The protection of the media ensures independent and unbiased reporting, which pledges transparency in a democracy.

Therefore, it is need of the hour that the Press Council of India ensures sufficient security to the journalists across the country so that they can work freely and fearlessly.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

Ras Bihari                                          Prasanna Mohanty          

President                                         Secretary-General


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