NEW DELHI, Oct. 4: A delegation of journalists’ organisations, led by the Press Club of India, met Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh at North Block today and submitted a memorandum, drawing his attention to the increasing attacks on journalists in several States of the country.
They demanded enactment of a legislation to protect and safeguard the lives of journalists while discharging their duties.
The delegation also sought intervention of the Home Minister in preparing a status report by his ministry on the pending cases of violence and murder of journalists from all the States. They pointed out that over the past three decades there had not been any conviction in cases of violence against journalists.
Shri Rajnath Singh assured the delegation that he would give active consideration to all the demands and deprecated violence against the journalists.
The delegation, led by PCI President Gautam Lahiri, included Vinay Kumar (Secy-General PCI), Shobhana Jain (President, IWPC), T K Rajlakshmi (Vice President IWPC), Rajdeep Sardesai (Senior Journalist), Rahul Jalali and Nadeem A. Kazmi (both from Federation of Press Clubs in India), Arvind Tiwari (Indore Press Club), Anand Mishra (Press Association), Kalyana Baruah (North East Media Forum), P K Manikandam (KUWJ).
Here are the highlights of the memorandum:-
This is to draw your kind attention to the increasing attacks on journalists in the country including brutal murders. The violence cuts across states. In many cases the culprits have not been apprehended. There are open threats to journalists in the social media, including in the national capital.
According to the NCRB, there have been 142 attacks on media persons in India since 2015 and 70 journalists killed between 1992 and 2016. This disturbing trend is continuing even in 2017 when journalists like Gauri Lankesh and many others were attacked and murdered in several other States.
As you are aware, journalists have an important role to play in society and in the functioning of a healthy and vibrant democracy. It is, therefore, imperative that they should be able to do their work without being subjected to intimidation or violence.
As the overall custodian of the maintenance of law and order and internal security in the country, we request your urgent intervention to ensure that substantive measures are taken to instil a sense of security and confidence among the journalistic community.
It is our request that an authentic status report by the Union Home Ministry on the various attacks on journalists in the form of threats and physical harm to their person and which form part of government records, be prepared covering the last 10 years.
It is also our sincere request that the Union government should expand the ambit of the Working Journalists Act of 1966 by suitable amendment in order to give protective cover of employment to all journalists, including in the electronic and online media. The present Act also needs to be amended to include provisions for adequate monetary compensation by employers and the concerned governments to journalists who suffer disability, injuries or are fatally attacked in the line of duty. A statutory welfare fund for journalists should also be established by all employers and state governments.