IJU meet concludes in Hyderabad: Emphasizes on journo-safety & security, PCI reform and minimum facilities
Hyderabad, 24 October 2021: The national executive committee meeting of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), held on Saturday and Sunday at The Plaza (tourism) in Hyderabad, rigorously discussed various burning issues concerning the practitioners of journalism across India and emphasized on effective safety & security to journalists, reforms in Press Council of India (PCI) and basic minimum facilities to the media fraternity sustaining the spirit under freedom of the press to serve the largest democracy on the globe.
Chaired by IJU president K. Sreenivas Reddy, the two-day meet, where representatives from almost all States and union territories of India including Assam and Ladakh participated, expressed serious concern over killings of journalists by anti-social elements and filing of cases against journalists and media houses to give a signal to them to fall in line or face the music. The Union also expressed concern over a very large number of journalists falling prey to the Covid pandemic. The Union urged the authorities to probe the murders of five journalists till date in 2021 and provide adequate compensations to the victim families.
The meeting appealed to the Union government in New Delhi to declare working journalists as frontline warriors and sanction compensation to all victims in media in the country, which should be in exclusion to the compensatory amount of money, declared by various State governments. The national union of scribes also urged the provincial governments, where journalists succumbed to the corona virus invasion, to announce compensatory packages to the victim families.
Expressing concern over the growing number of attacks on journalists (where India lost five journalists namely Raman Kashyap, Manish Kumar Singh, Chenna Keshav, Sulabh Srivastava and Ashu Yadav to assailants) and media organizations in different parts of the country, the IJU meet demanded a specific law to deal with such situations applicable across India. The union also urged the Government not to misinterpret and misuse various laws with an aim to harass media houses not falling in line.
The IJU has denounced the dictatorial and unlawful activities of the outgoing Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice C. K. Prasad and demanded the restoration of the credibility of the Council with rightful representation to the National Unions. The IJU reiterated its demand to widen the PCI with the inclusion of electronic media and digital media and renaming it as Media Council of India.
The IJU has also demanded reinstallation of the Working Journalists Act with more favourable provisions encompassing wages, wage revisions, job security, pension benefits and the whole gamut of working conditions for working journalists in the country.
The meet, in a resolution, passed unanimously, termed the amalgamation of the Working Journalists Act, 1955., into a code, where working journalists are bundled along with sales representatives, as dangerous to the democracy. As clarified by the Supreme Court, the freedom of press in India is inherently laid down in the constitutionally guaranteed rights to the freedom of expression. A free press, one of the most essential ingredients for safeguarding the democracy is in turn the sacred duty of working journalists and stripping of the rightfully accorded special recognition of a fraternity vested with such weighty responsibility spells danger to the very fabric of democracy, the resolution said.
The IJU has felt that in the present complex media scenario, it is all the more important that laws governing media and media persons and regulation of various media are strengthened with a view to promote free media and buttress the right to free speech. Instead of resorting to such progressive measures, the Union government has thought it fit to strip the working journalists of their special recognition as enshrined in the Working Journalists Act. The IJU meet has urged the Centre to rectify the anomaly immediately by reinstalling the concerned act.
Union minister for tourism, culture and development of north-eastern region (DoNER) Gangapuram Kishan Reddy also graced the occasion, where he appealed to the media fraternity to play a pro-active role in the growth of the nation. He also agreed to initiate supports to corona- media victims and pragmatic actions for the welfare and enrichment of journalists across the country.
Telangana minister for tourism, excise and sports V. Srinivas Goud also graced the occasion and assured all possible supports to media persons of the newly born Telangana State. Andhra Pradesh information commissioner Vijay Kumar Reddy also addressed the gathering on the concluding day.
A number of senior journalists including IJU secretary general Balwinder Singh Jammu, IJU former presidents SN Sinha and Devulapalli Amar (presently national media adviser to AP government), IJU vice-president Ambati Anjaneyulu, Scribes News editor Alapati Suresh Kumar, IJU secretary Y. Narender Reddy, etc were present in the meet, which was hosted by the Telangana State Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ).
(K. Sreenivas Reddy)