NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of reports of intimidation of mediapersons in Naxal-hit Bastar district of Chhattsigarh, a fact-finding team of Editors Guild of India, after visiting the area, has concluded that "there is a sense of fear among journalists there."
The three-member fact-finding team of the Guild, in its report "Challenges to Journalism in Bastar", has also said in its report that newspaper organisations should take care while appointing stringers and give them adequate protection. "Instead, they disown them because they see them as liability beyond a point," it said.
"There is a sense of fear in Bastar. Every journalist who is working in Bastar feels that he/she is not safe. On one hand, they have to deal with Maoists who are becomming more and more sensitive about the reports appearing in the media and on the other hand, the police wants the media to report as and what they want," the team said.
"There is a general feeling (in government) in Chhattisgarh that a large section of the national media is pro-Maoists," it said quoting a senior editor.
The report also quoted another editor as saying "if you wish to analyse anything independently then you can be judged whether you are with the government or with the Maoists. The democratic space for journalism is shrinking."
On Santosh Yadav arrested by Chhattisgarh police since September last under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the committee said he is a journalist writing for two newspapers and senior journalists of the area have said he is a "victim of cicumstances and be given benefit of doubt."
The team also said "it is clear from the on record statements made by the authorities that the administration was not comfortable with the reports (journalist) Malini Subramaniam was sending" and she was "compelled" to leave the city and the state.
About Alok Putul, the team said he was there to gather news for BBC when police officers questioned his credentials and nationalism and he had to leave fearing for his security when some people came looking for him.
The team has also stated that newspapers and other media houses are appointing journalists as stringers in remote areas without any formalities, who survive on commissions from advertisements and distribution of newspapers and rely on other professions.