The National Alliance of Journalists(NAJ) and Delhi Union of Journalists(DUJ) strongly condemns the growing tendency by civic bodies and other local authorities to hound local journalists for reporting on corruption and maladministration. Since many of these are mediapersons working for small local dailies and channels in regional languages such harassment rarely gets reported in national media.
In a statement today, the NAJ and DUJ President, S.K.Pande, the DUJ General Secretary Sujata Madhok and the NAJ Secretary General N.Kondaiah point out that the most recent reported incident is the booking of as many as eight journalists in Nadia district of West Bengal for reporting that municipal staff were demanding bribes of Rs.3000 for water connections. The police has filed charges under six IPC sections including criminal intimidation (S.506), obstructing public servants from discharging duties (section 186), and criminal conspiracy (120B).
The journalists charged are Shovik Banerjee,Editor (Janatar Chithi), Lokesh Debnath reporter (CM Bangla), Himangokar Bhattacharya,Editor(Purotan Muktidoot), Niloy Bhattacharya (district correspondent Tar News), Prasenjit Choudhury (CN News), Subrata Sen photographer CM Bangla, Amit Sengupta CM Bangla, Mahadev Kundu district correspondent (TV -9 Bangla).
According to reports received, they added such intimidatory tactics against Journalists are increasing, particularly in West Bengal where the authorities seem determined to control press freedom.
The NAJ and DUJ demands that these frivolous charges against the mediapersons be dropped immediately and their harassment by the local government and police be stopped.