Journalists call for forming legal aid in various citiestext_fields
New Delhi: In a meeting organised by the Press Club of India, senior journalists called for forming legal aid for journos who were targeted with FIRs and raids. They suggested that such assistance should be established in multiple cities, PTI reported.
The meeting was called to discuss the challenges faced by media as the country witnessed the arrest of AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair, the stopping of Pulitzer winner photojournalist Sanaa Mattoo from leaving the country and restrictions imposed on journalists from covering government events.
Senior Journalist T N Ninan opined that holding or issuing statements would not suffice, but all media associations- print, television, digital- should speak in one voice. "We need to agree on the basics of press freedom," Ninan said
He suggested a panel of lawyers in different cities to take cases against journalists.
A resolution adopted by the meeting read, "The plethora of FIRs against many of our colleagues in the recent past and the Enforcement Directorate raids in media offices send an ominous signal to the future of the profession as a whole."
"The arrest of the Alt News co-founder on what we understand is based on exaggerated and trumped-up charges. On the other hand, those who actually make hate speeches are moving around freely," the resolution said.
The continuing COVID-19 restrictions in the press gallery of the Lok Sabha and the Central Hall of Parliament, along with restricting visual media during the nomination-filing process of the NDA candidate in the July 18 presidential polls, Droupadi Murmu, are worrisome according to the resolution.
"We request the government to restore access to coverage of government events to the media as before in the interests of a robust democracy. We also reiterate that the Constitution is supreme, and it applies to one and all. The cherry-picking by law enforcement agencies does send a chilling effect to the media as a whole," it added.
Senior journalists Siddharth Varadarajan (The Wire), Sandeep Sonkar (Working News Cameramens' Association), Shobhana Jain (Indian Women's Press Corps) and S K Pande (Delhi Union of Journalists) spoke at the meeting.