Editors’ Body Demands Protection of Press Freedom in UP

Stop killing journalists. Photo: UNESCO
Stop killing journalists. Photo: UNESCO

While the Editors Guild of India is a weak, toothless outfit, it is expected that the UP government will simply ignore its observations and suggestions.

By Rakesh Raman

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has urged Adityanath, who is the Chief Minister (CM) of Indian state Uttar Pradesh, to protect press freedom and the rights and safety of working journalists in his state.

In its letter dated November 9, the EGI has listed a number of cases where journalists have faced state repression. The letter says that Adityanath spoke in favor of an arrested pro-government TV anchor in another state, but fails to show same sentiment for other journalists who are being harassed in his own state.

“While you were right to promptly uphold the freedom of the press when an editor of a TV channel was arrested in Mumbai, there are far more compelling cases of intimidation, harassment by authorities of working journalists in UP, who were prevented from doing their job. Many of them have been unjustifiably arrested on spurious charges,” the EGI said in its letter.

The EGI was referring to the case of Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami who was arrested from his house by Mumbai Police on November 4 for allegedly abetting suicide. Goswami claims to be a journalist but behaves as the untamed mouthpiece of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi. Adityanath also belongs to the BJP.

In an extremely uncivil and loud rhetoric, Goswami – who is part of a lapdog media clique (a.k.a. Godi Media) supported by Modi’s party BJP – mischievously amplifies the narrative of Hindu-Muslim hatred spread by BJP leaders on his TV shows under the Republic TV banner.

The EGI stated in its letter to Adityanath that as the Chief Minister of India’s largest state, he is well aware of the important precedence that the state sets with respect to safeguarding all constitutional rights.

This is especially crucial with respect to preserving the space for free media, more so at a time when the world has been in the throes of a pandemic. Media has played an important role in raising awareness about the pandemic, the letter added.

“We urge you to free the jailed journalists, withdraw cases that are under review, as well as to ensure safety of all working journalists in the state,” the EGI said.

Editors Guild also added that it is keen to send a delegation of national Editors to Lucknow, to meet Adityanath and to work with his administration to explore ways that can create a protective environment for the media to work without fear or favor.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman