October 02, 2017 04:42 PM
Members of Chandigarh Press Club and journalists union protest against killing of journalists in India (Photo courtesy : Parveen)


The last month has seen a slew of violence against Press personnel, starting with the August 25 Dera violence; Chandigarh Press Club to move court to press Haryana government for compensation for that incident  

Chandigarh (Face2News)

Forty-two journalists have sacrificed their lives across the country in 25 years in violence against the media, three of them in one month alone. This startling, but disturbing, fact was highlighted during a protest against the recent attacks on the journalists being organised by the Chandigarh Press Club on the nationwide call of the Federation of Press Clubs of India.

Over 100 journalists, covering Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, both from print and electronic, participated in the protest to express solidarity with their fellow colleagues who sacrificed their lives while performing duty.

At the protest, the journalists also formed a human chain, a wide array of issues ranging from the importance of the fourth pillar in a democratic country to the role of the government, both the states and the Centre, in ensuring the safety of journalists were discussed.

“Intolerance is the dominant theme today and it’s backed by empirical data. Hate mails, SMSs are the routine trend. (Narendra) Modi is following 46 people accused of sending hate mails on a regular basis. People take this as endorsement to the fact. We have gathered here to protect the democracy. It is time to take a stand and the Press must stay united,” said veteran journalist Vipin Pubby.

“Journalists have to be conscious of their own safety. Safety on duty is an important part of a journalist’s skill set; though there is no second thought that law and order has to be maintained by the government machineries,” said Ashok Malik, former vice-president of National Union of Journalists India.

“Around two decades ago, a journalist’s voice was considered and weighed with great respect, but now we have an atmosphere where anything against anybody leads to attacks on the person. We need a new law to tackle such kind of situations,” said Vinod Kohli, president, Chandigarh Punjab Journalists Union. “Often, the journalists have to face court cases long after they have reported something,” added Avtar Singh, a president of Chandigarh Journalist Association.

Chandigarh Press Club Senior Vice-President Saurabh Duggal, who moderated the session, said, “It’s unfortunate that the common man is jailed for liking Facebook posts that are critical of the government but the killers of journalists roam free.”

Club President Jaswant Rana added that it was important to ensure that journalists maintain unity and the club would always stand by journalists, who must never feel that they are alone.
Describing the attack on journalists unfortunate, Club Secretary General Barinder Rawat said this was an attack on the freedom of expression.

Swadesh Talwar, senior photojournalist, said, “The Press has to stay united against attacks. We must understand that people have to be cautious and such attacks are only expected to rise. A strong, united stand is needed.”

Jagtar Singh, former Press Club president, said, “Journalists are being silenced. Institutions do not support their staff and tend to ignore their genuine concerns. Journalists are left alone.”
“The Panchkula attack was the worst attack on journalists, and we need to be strong. This protest is a reflection of our strength. No one will come to our aid,” he concluded.

Balwinder Singh Jammu, former president of the Press Club said, “In 2015, the Delhi Press Club called meeting where the Federation of Press Club was formed. That year, five murders had been reported, relating to land scams. Finally, the Federation of Press Clubs was formed.”

“Regular journalists are now rarity with only 40,000 regularised from 70,000. We need a Journalist Protection Act,” he added.

On October 5, the Chandigarh Press Club has decided to be the part of national protest meet in Delhi, Press Club senior vice-president Saurabh Duggal added. Cautioning journalists against the danger of divides and fissures in the media that could emerge out of such attacks, Nanki Hans, former Press Club president, said, added, “The problem is far bigger. Media is being monopolised and the corporatisation means ownership is with people with a particular political leaning. This is then a complex fight that will need a coordinated response. I fear that such a situation in India can divide the media itself.”

“When a minister is attacked, there is immediate action. We are nobody’s vote back, so we have very little priority. She said the murder of KJ Singh needed to handed over to the CBI, if the Punjab Police cannot handle the probe.”

When people feel that even killing a journalist can invite no punishment, and you can get away with me.
Institutions like Editors’ Guild etc need to be more assertive and consolidate in a formal manner, but definitely we have to strengthen ourselves,” she concluded.

Ranju Airy, former secretary of the Press Club, said, “Security is an issue and in this context, we need to also raise the issue of wages of journalists. It is an important for a journalist to fight. In today’s scenario in the media, I am not an opinion maker. The boss is the opinion-maker. The value of journalism is weakened and no one can claim regular wages. Salary needs to be assured and only then we can fight.”
Rajiv Ranjan Roy, a senior journalist, “I have two questions, I am the fourth pillar of democracy, but for whom? No journalist’s child wants to be a journalist. Journalists need to be treated on a par with the other three pillars.” He added, “Why is there not a structured compensation policy for journalist?. The industry needs to be given the status of an organised sector.”  
Gauri Lankesh, an independent publisher and Editor of a Kannada publication, was killed in cold blood on September 5, in her house. Till today the police have not been able to make any arrests.

In Tripura, a television reporter Shantanu Bhowmick was brutally killed in broad daylight while covering a protest rally.

A day later K J Singh, a senior journalist, who was also member of the Chandigarh Press Club, was murdered at his home along with his mother in Mohali, Punjab.
These are three gruesome murders in just one month.


Over the past month, nearly 100 journalists have been threatened for expressing free opinion. Last week, some of the Chandigarh-based reporters of electronic channels and newspapers received threat letters. Many journalists in the country have been getting regular death threats. Trolling on social media has become a norm.


With the Haryana government adopting a lax attitude in processing compensation claims arising out of Dera violence in August 25, journalists slammed Haryana chief minister ML Khattar. “The CM promised that the claims will be processed in a week. Now, more than a month later, the government is yet to officially even make a list of value of claims,” said Rajinder Nagarkoti, vice-president of the Chandigarh Press Club.

“A 8-member committee of bureaucrats has submitted a report to the Haryana chief secretary stating that they need valuators to assess the loss. This is just delaying the process and we plan to move the Punjab and Haryana high court,” he added.


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