New Delhi : The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) strongly condemned the forced resignation of Pilibhit correspondent of Hindustan, a largely circulated Hindi daily from the stables of the Hindustan Times group, apparently under political pressure. The Bareilly edition editor of the daily on 8 April asked Sandeep Singh, Pilibhit bureau chief of the paper, to resign after he filed a report on a notice given by state owned BSNL to BJP candidate from Pilibhit Lok Sabha constituency, Varun Gandhi, for non-payment of bills amounting to Rs. 38 thousand. The local editor acted on the directions of the Group Editor of the newspaper Shashi Shekhar allegedly at the bidding of Varun Gandhi, it is learnt.
In a letter dated 30 March, the BSNL asked the Returning Officer of the constituency to take appropriate action against the candidate for filing his nomination without mandatory ‘no dues’ certificate. Varun Gandhi came to know of the story as the reporter sought clarification from his office before running the story and reportedly got the story killed.
The IJU President and Press Council of India (PCI) member Amar Devulapalli and Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit in a statement expressed shock over the action of the editors of Hindustan to force a journalist to resign under political pressure. “It is a direct assault on freedom of press and the right of the journalists’ to carry out their duties without fear or favour. The intolerance of ruling party MP towards the media, not only weakens the fourth pillar of India’s democracy but worse the Editor complyiny with such political demands puts a big question mark on the media’s credibility during the ongoing General elections”, they said.
“The Indian Journalists Union (IJU), the largest and most representative organisation of working journalists in the country, feels it is unacceptable and unethical. It makes a mockery of the coverage of elections and seriously impacts the media’s role of building public opinion”, the statement said. The IJU also expressed solidarity with its affiliate, the Uttar Pradesh Working Journalists Union, and other journalists in the district which gave a call to boycott the MP and demand that the daily reinstate the journalist.
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