To Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari Hon’ble Chairperson Parliamentary Petitions Committee Parliament of India New Delhi Through Shri Alok Mani Tripathi, Committee Officer Date: 24th June, 2015 Subject- Monstrous killings of journalists in UP, MP & other States Dear Shri Koshyariji & Hon’ble Members of the Committee, This is to draw your immediate attention towards the monstrous killings of journalists in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in particular and similar plight of journalists in general across the country which has been ignored by the central and state governments. We submit that according to Reporters Without Borders, India’s ranking remains low at 136 in the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) 2015 that provides ranking for 180 countries. It is increasing evident that India falls in the category of countries which has "partially free media". It remains one of the most restrictive places for the journalists. We submit that some 79 journalists have been killed in the last 25 years. Besides this journalists are facing false and fabricated cases and numerous harassments without any relief in sight. It is an abysmal reflection on freedom of information and communication because it adversely impacts the quality and impartiality of content. Such violence is making journalists increasingly insecure. We seek committee’s intervention to examine the issue in depth and recommend remedial measures and mechanisms. We wish to draw your attention towards the killing of Late Shri Jagendra Verma in Uttar Pradesh and Late Sandeep Kothari in Madhya Pradesh. It is noteworthy that the cases of assault on journalists have been reported from other states too. In fact in most cases ruling party is complicit in such instances. There are cases wherein law enforcement agencies are also involved. We submit that apart from physical violence, restrictive laws such as criminal defamation and contempt of court besides invocation of national security has silenced journalists. It makes truth a casualty in order to save the corrupt. Nira Radia tapes revealed how journalists who are complicit in corrupt practices of the ruling party and corporate houses do not suffer any consequence. Given the fact that Hon’ble Chairperson himself has been a journalist, it is incumbent on him to ensure that the committee examines the matter threadbare based on nationwide consultation with journalists in each state capital and make relevant recommendations for their safety. We submit that the committee should consider setting up a sub-committee that can undertake site visits of such incidents, interact with local journalists and address the issue of journalists’ safety on a regular basis. We wish to draw your attention towards what Mahatma Gandhi said in 1922. He said, “Liberty of speech means that it is unassailed even when the speech hurts; Liberty of Press can be said to be truly respected when the Press can comment in the severest terms upon and even misrepresent matters….” It is abundantly clear that both central and state government has not taken adequate measures to safeguard the purveyors of facts and truth to the citizens at large. MediaVigil has been functioning as a forum since March 8, 2004 aimed at discussing journalism and media related issues and possibilities of a New International Information and Communication Order as envisaged in the UNESCO's MacBride Report of 1980. It has 974 members who are media practitioners. In view of the above and in view of the fact that unless immediate remedial measures and mechanism is put in place, journalists will adopt the practice of self-censorship, we seek committee’s urgent intervention to bring relief to journalists and to save the practice of impartial and fearless journalism. Thanking you in anticipation. Yours faithfully Gopal Krishna Convener, MediaVigil Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660 Efirstname.lastname@example.org Web: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/mediavigil/info Cc Hon’ble Members of Parliamentary Petitions Committee: Shri Suresh Chanabasappa Angadi Shri Om Birla Shri Jitendra Chaudhury Shri Ram Tahal Choudhary Shri Rajen Gohain Dr. K. Gopal Shri Suresh Kodikunnil Shri Chhedi Paswan Shri Kamlesh Paswan Smt. Krishna Raj Shri Arjun Charan Sethi Shri Dinesh Trivedi Shri Rajan Baburao Vichare Shri Dharmendra Yadav
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