NEW DELHI: After two journalists were killed in two separate incidents in Bihar and Jharkhand, media regulator Press Council of India (PCI) demanded that a special law be enacted to ensure the safety of scribes and that cases of attacks on them will be tried by fast-track courts.
While, concerns were expressed over these killings, the incident, especially of the journalist killed in Bihar, is turning out to be political with the Bharatiya Janata Party raising the issue of lawlessness in the state.
The BJP said the journalist was killed for exposing the wrongdoings of former RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin, who is serving time for charges including kidnapping and murder.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that as far as the law was concerned, it could be seen consistently that there was a situation of lawlessness in Bihar and the perpetrators were mostly the same people who should be protecting the law.
“Naturally it is not just Jungle Raj but Maha Jungle Raj. Even the jungle has a rule but in Bihar there seems to be no rule,” the BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Press Council of India chairman Justice (retd) Chandramouli Kumar Prasad strongly condemned the killings and expressed concern that in 96 per cent of such cases the matter was not taken to logical conclusion.
“It is a matter of grave concern that three journalists were killed in the country in the last four months and another died in a tragic accident while on the line of duty,” he said.
“I urge upon the Government of India to enact a special law for protection of journalists and speedy trial of cases of attacks and assaults upon them in special fast track courts as recommended by the Sub-Committee for Safety of Journalists appointed by the Press Council,” said the PCI chief.
Akhilesh Pratap Singh working for a news channel, was shot dead by some unknown assailants in Chatra district of Jharkhand and the news bureau chief of Dainik Hindustan Rajdev Ranjan was killed in Siwan, Bihar.
“The killing of nine journalists last year and three journalists this year so far, does not bode well for the freedom of media and safety of journalists in the country. It is sad that such incidents happen in the largest democracy in the world,” Prasad said.
The Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley also condemned the murder of the two journalists and demanded an independent investigation.
“I strongly condemn murder of journalists Rajdeo Ranjan in Siwan & Akhilesh Pratap Singh in Chatra district,” tweeted Jaitley.
Meanwhile, in Siwan three persons were detained for questioning in connection with the murder of Ranjan in the town, police said on Saturday. Several journalist associations condemned the murders and protests were held in Kolkata.
Scribe who covered Ayush ‘discrimination’ held
Delhi police on Friday evening arrested journalist Pushp Sharma for allegedly fabricating an RTI reply to publish a news report claiming that the government was discriminating against Muslims and denying them jobs of yoga trainers in the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) Ministry.
Zafarul-Islam Khan, chief editor of the Milli Gazette in which the report was published, said, “The Ayush Ministry FIR against the journalist and the Press Council of India’s suo moto action are clear attempts to stifle the freedom of the press.”