Sunday, June 24, 2012

Karantaka Journalists submit memo to Governor

Karantaka Journalists submit memo to Governor

Bangalore: As a part of the National agitation of National Union of Journalists (India), Journalists' Association of Karnataka (JAK) submitted a memorandum to His Excellency Hans Raj Bharadwaj, Hon'ble Governor of Karnataka on Friday 23rd June 2012, stressing the need to protect journalists from all kinds of astroscities, attacls. fpr,atopm pf

JAK delegation was led by the President Prof. B. Harischandra Bhat, Gen. Secretary Nethrakere Udaya Shankaranarayana Bhat, Vice President Venugopalan and Organising Secretary Ompprakas Agarwal.

His Excellency, the Governor received for memorandum and agreed to forward the same with strong recommendations to the  Hon'ble Prime Minister. The delegation thanked Shri Hans Raj Bharadwaj for the patient hereing and kind action. 

Here is the full text of Memorandum:

Dr. Manmohan Singhji,
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India

Shri Hans Raj Bharadwaj,

Honorable Governor of Karnataka, 
Raj Bhavan,

Demand for comprehensive security legislation for journalists’ protection, formation of Media Council and implementation of Wage Board recommendations.

Respected Sir, 

Working journalists all over the country are shocked at the rising trend of physical assaults on them and their killings in offices, homes and on streets. Attacks are mostly carried out by individuals and groups often supported and backed by political parties and influential persons wielding power who fear exposure of their wrong deeds and true selves.

Over 190 attacks on journalists have been documented in different States in the recent past. In Assam alone, for instance, at least one journalist has been fatally attacked every year during the past 14 years for refusing to file report as per the instructions of either the terrorists or the police.

The situation is no different in the naxal-affected areas. It has worsened with the rise of what is called ‘conformance’ in political parlance, threat to mafias that grab land and other resources with political support, blind hero-worship of political personalities and the general atmosphere of intolerance and appeasement. Reporters, cameramen and other media personnel are always exposed to vandalism and physical assaults by groups feigning victimization. The police do not intervene in time or effectively -- more often they reach the spot much after the occurrence despite getting informed.

The National Union of Journalists (India) to which we the members of Journalists Association of Karnataka are affiliated had on different occasions brought it to the notice of the authorities concerned and sought immediate redressal also. But, we are sorry to state that, such individual instances are generally being dealt with as merely a law and order issue, and are invariably lost in police records sans any concrete action. Everyday journalists are facing new types of threats. The situation has become so drastic and critical that it now requires drastic solutions to protect journalists which only the Central Government and Parliament can provide.

We take this opportunity to make it very clear that we are not asking for police protection for every working journalist. 

The lack of a specific legal mandate to the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order to protect working journalists and other media staff compels us to demand protection from vandals and mafia-paid criminals for our tribe. To obviate this lacuna and demand entitlement to protection against physical assaults the journalists need a specific and comprehensive law to be enacted.

There is a need for a comprehensive Journalist Protection Act with clear provisions of registering complaints in police stations on intimidation, attack or torture of journalists and also that all such complaints should be investigated by a SP/DCP level police officer. Failure to nab the culprit should be turned into a black mark on the concerned police officer’s ‘Performance Record’. 

We also want that the investigation of all such complaints should be conducted within two days and action taken / ensured against the culprits. Moreover, whenever a journalist is assassinated or attacked the case should be heard in a fast track court to ensure timely justice. It is essential keeping in view the fact that no action is taken against culprits for months and sometimes years even after registration of FIR. 

It is imperative to mention here as also demand that in grave situations of any type media persons covering them should not be treated as crowd. The police should be directed to help and provide complete information to the media so that all concerned persons get correct information. If the authorities feel that it causes trouble in rescue operations, the administration can organise training camps to impart basic training required for covering such events. 

A rising trend has been noticed in the recent past that racketeers – social, commercial as also religious – have started launching newspapers with the twin nefarious designs i.e. to become self-appointed editors or to put a ‘YES MAN’ of their choice as dummy editor to misuse the privileges to their benefit as also to befool the masses by casting their spell over them. The most funny side of such editors is that they have no professional standing. we the state unit NUJ (I) condemn such racketeers and to protect the professional ethics and standards of Indian journalism demands that the definition of a journalist should be mentioned in unambiguous terms in the proposed Journalist Protection Act. The Journalists Association of Karnataka (JAK) is determined to press for such national legislation and will agitate for it and address Parliament, State legislatures and political parties on its immediate promulgation. 
The Journalists Association of Karnataka(JAK) also demands that the Central government to take steps to force the newspaper managements to implement the recommendations made by the Journalists’Wage Board headed by Justice Majithia, immediately.

Keeping in view the present media situation, the unhealthy trends in both the print and electronic media and the new challenges of the online media as well as emerging trends in various sections of society impacted by the media, we feel the Government of India should take early steps to set up a Media Council to guide the progress of the sector into a robust fourth estate supporting and promoting diversity and freedom in this largest constitutional democracy in the world. The NUJ(I) has been making this demand for quite some years ever since the electronic media emerged as a powerful factor in our mass communication environment. We are now encouraged by the recent expression of strong support to this demand by the new chairman of the Press Council, Mr. Justice (retd.) Markandeya Katju who himself is the author of many significant judgments in the Supreme Court.

Newpapers, in most cases, apparently on the behest of their owners have stopped reporting Press Council’s decisions as they often tend to expose the weaknesses and creeping viruses in the Press. In the electronic media the so-called publishers’ regulatory bodies have been ignoring the emerging basic trends and only dealing with peripheral wrong doings. The Central Government as well as State governments are making either desultory or politically motivated moves in their relationship with media. The Centre’s weakness was recently exposed when it quietly withdrew instructions to the electronic media in the context of the public concerns about certain events in the TV coverage. 

All this exposes the absence of a robust mechanism that is authentic voice of sanity and public concern and democracy in regard to media content. The JAK therefore strongly stresses the demand for Media Council being set up by a new law expanding the Press Council legislation to take care of the emerging media environment. We want the provisions in the proposed Media Council which not only help in keeping a watch on the media but also protects the interests of the working journalists. Such an effective body can be created within the Journalist Protection Act only.

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