New Delhi : An organisation of photo and video journalists on Monday came down hard on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for his remarks in the Supreme Court about negativity being spread on migrant workers'' issue, saying he chose to target the messenger when photo journalists were working to bring out the "hard truth" on the situation.
The All India Working News Cameramen''s Association (WNCA) strongly condemned the observation of Mehta against the photo and video journalists during the course of the Supreme Court hearing on the "migrants'' crisis".
It urged the Press Council of India (PCI) to intervene in the case and call upon the Supreme Court to strike down Mehta''s statement to "redeem the honour of the photo and video journalists in the country".
Asked to comment on the criticism of his observation, the Solicitor General''s office told PTI, "There was not even a remote reference to any media personnel, be it electronic or print, and either a journalist, photo journalist or video journalist."
"...having already clarified his position in the media reports published today, he reiterates the stand," the SG''s office said in the statement.
Mehta had on Thursday complained to the Supreme Court that there are "armchair intellectuals" acting as "prophets of doom" in the country by spreading negativity and not recognising the "humongous" efforts being made to deal with migrant workers'' crisis following the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Mehta had referred to the famous photograph of ''the vulture and the girl'' which was published in The New Yorks Times in 1993 and said that the picture won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 but the photographer, Eric Carter, committed suicide four months thereafter.
"He (Eric Carter) was not an activist. He was not running an NGO. Perhaps, he was a man with conscience. Some journalist asked him what happened to that child. He said I don''t know as I had to return home. Then the reporter asked him as to how many vultures were there? To which, Carter replied only one. The reporter replied to him no, there were two. One was holding the camera," Mehta had narrated the story to the bench.
In a statement, WNCA president S N Sinha and WNCA general secretary Sondeep Shankar said by clicking and recording the migrants'' tragedies in their cameras, the photojournalists were "bringing images and bearing witness to the worst humanitarian crisis in the country since the Partition".
The photojournalists were doing their job by bringing the "cold and hard truth" of the migrants'' situation to shake the conscience of the people and spur the government for remedial action.
"Tushar Mehta in his enthusiasm to defend the indefensible inaction of the government, misrepresented facts about the picture of Kevin Carter, the Sudanese girl, and the vulture, implying that the photographer should have helped the girl instead of photographing it," the statement said.
"As a matter of fact, Kevin, the iconic and Pulitzer winning photojournalist, shooed away the vulture after capturing the human tragedy," it said.
"Unfortunately, the top law officer of the government chose to target the messenger instead of acting on the message in the august precincts of the Supreme Court. We demand that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta should immediately withdraw his averment and apologise to the photojournalist community," the statement said.