MUMBAI: The Mumbai Press Club on Saturday condemned the registration of multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) against journalists over the coverage of farmers' tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day.
Filing of cases against journalists shows the government's growing intolerance for those who differ with it, it said.
FIRs have been filed in Delhi as well in as some BJP- ruled states including Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh against journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande and others regarding their coverage of the rally or their comments on it.
The tractor rally undertaken by farmers who have been protesting against the new farm laws of the Union government had turned violent.
In a statement, the Mumbai Press Club, a journalists' body, said the events during the rally were chaotic and information was not available easily.
There was a clear "intelligence lapse" on the part of the Delhi Police which had lost control of the situation, the Press Club said.
"In these circumstances, to pin blame on the journalists for being responsible for the violence and disruption, is reprehensible," it said.
"Worse still is the attempt of the Police to stick sedition charges on the journalists using archaic laws. It shows the growing intolerance of the Union government against those who do not toe the line of the ruling establishment," it said.
These FIRs were part of "a dangerous trend" which seeks to demonize journalists who do not agree with the government, the statement said.
It also cited the arrest of Kerala Union of Working Journalists office-bearer Siddique Kappan by the UP Police under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as an example of this trend.
Besides, journalists are increasingly being portrayed as anti-nationals or terrorists, it said.
The club sought immediate withdrawal of FIRs against six journalists, and called on the Union government to stop using such "coercive and threatening practices".