NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India condemned the statement of BJP MLA Lal Singh in which he had "warned" journalists in Jammu and Kashmir who did not toe the line. On Friday, Singh, a former minister at the Jammu and Kashmir government, told reporters at a media briefing that Kashmiri reporters had created an "erroneous atmosphere" and said they should "draw a line" if they did not want to meet the same fate as Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir.
Bukhari was assassinated in Srinagar's press enclave on June 14. Singh's statement not only betrays his deep disregard for freedom of press in a democracy but also amounts to encouraging physical attacks against journalists in a sensitive state like Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country, observed the guild.
The guild demanded Jammu and Kashmir governor to take note of Singh's statement as causing an incitement to violence against journalists and take necessary action against him. The BJP should also reprimand the MLA and take action against him. It said in a statement that Singh the party should ask Singh to retract the statement after offering an apology.
The guild also brought attention to the recent instances in which television channels in Tamil Nadu were arbitrarily taken off air for a certain period ranging from a couple of hours to a few days recently. The Tamil Nadu police has registered an FIR against a reporter and the management of Puthiya Thalaimurai - a Tamil news channel. The channel hosted a roundtable discussion on protests in Tamil Nadu in which an invited panel aired its views before an audience. The FIR was slapped even before the programme was aired. This was an attempt to muzzle dissenting voices and intimidate the media as there was no valid explanation, the guild said in a statement.
According to the guild, other TV channels have also complained of such blackouts in the event when the Tamil Nadu government did not like the programmes broadcast. The government controls the TV channel content distribution agency Arasu Cable. However, the Tamil Nadu government has assured the media that it has no plans to black out television channels. The guild has also urged the Tamil Nadu government to adhere to the recommendations of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India that bar a government from owning a television channel distribution company.