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IJU meet concludes in Hyderabad emphasizing on journo-safety and security, PCI reform

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Nava J. Thakuria, Hyderabad : The national executive committee meeting
of Indian Journalists Union (IJU), which concluded on Sunday in the
capital city of Telangana, discussed various burning issues concerning
the practitioners of journalism across India and emphasized on
effective safety & security to journalists, reforms in Press Council
of India (PCI) and basic minimum facilities to the media fraternity
sustaining the spirit under freedom of the press to serve the largest
democracy on the globe.

Chaired by IJU president K Sreenivas Reddy, the two-day meet held at
Tourism Plaza in Begumpet locality expressed serious concern over
killings of journalists by anti-social elements and filing of cases
against journalists and media houses to give a signal to them to fall
in line or face the music. In presence of representatives from almost
all States and union territories including Assam and Ladakh, the meet
also expressed concern over a very large number of journalists
falling prey to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IJU urged the authorities to probe the murders of five journalists
till date in 2021 and provide adequate compensations to the victim
families. It also appealed to the Union government to declare working
journalists as frontline warriors and sanction compensation to all
corona-victims in media across the country, which should be in
exclusion to the compensatory amount of money, declared by various
State governments. The national union of scribes urged the provincial
governments, where journalists succumbed to the corona virus invasion,
to announce compensatory packages to the affected families.

Expressing concern over the growing number of attacks on journalists
(where India lost five journalists namely Raman Kashyap, Manish Kumar
Singh, Chenna Keshav, Sulabh Srivastava and Ashu Yadav to assailants)
and media organizations in different parts of the country, the IJU
meet demanded a specific law to deal with such situations applicable
across India. It also urged the government not to misinterpret and
misuse various laws with an aim to harass media houses not falling in
line.

In a different issue, the IJU has denounced the dictatorial and
unlawful activities of the outgoing PCI chairman justice CK Prasad and
demanded the restoration of credibility of the quasi-judicial body
with rightful representation to the national unions. Moreover, the IJU
reiterated its demand to widen the PCI with the inclusion of
electronic & digital media and to rename it as Media Council of
India.

The influential union demanded reinstallation of the Working
Journalists Act with more favourable provisions encompassing wages,
wage revisions, job security, pension benefits and the whole gamut of
working conditions for professional journalists in the country. The
meet, in a resolution passed unanimously, termed the amalgamation of
the WJA 1955, into a code, where working journalists are bundled along
with sales representatives, as dangerous to the democracy.

As clarified by the Supreme Court of India, the freedom of press in
the country is inherently laid down in the constitutionally guaranteed
rights to the freedom of expression. A free press, one of the most
essential ingredients for safeguarding the democracy is in turn the
sacred duty of working journalists and stripping of the rightfully
accorded special recognition of a fraternity vested with such weighty
responsibility, spells danger to the very fabric of democracy, the
resolution stated.

The IJU has felt that in the present complex media scenario, it is all
the more important that laws governing media & media persons and
regulation of various media are strengthened with a view to promote
free media and buttress the right to free speech. Instead of resorting
to such progressive measures the Union government has thought it fit
to strip the working journalists of their special recognition as
enshrined in the WJA. The IJU meet has urged the Centre to rectify the
anomaly immediately by reinstalling the concerned act.

Union minister for tourism, culture and DoNER (development of
north-eastern region) Gangapuram Kishan Reddy also graced the
occasion, where he appealed to the media fraternity to play a
pro-active role in the growth of the nation. He agreed to initiate
supports to corona- media victims and pragmatic actions for the
welfare and enrichment of journalists across the country. Andhra
Pradesh information commissioner Vijay Kumar Reddy also addressed the
gathering on the concluding day.

Earlier, Telangana minister for tourism, excise and sports V Srinivas
Goud graced the opening day programs and assured all possible
supports to media persons of the newly created Telangana State. A
number of senior journalists including IJU secretary general Balwinder
Singh Jammu, IJU former presidents SN Sinha and Devulapalli Amar
(presently the national media adviser to AP government), IJU
vice-president Ambati Anjaneyulu, Scribes News editor Alapati Suresh
Kumar, IJU secretary Y Narender Reddy were present in the meet, which
was hosted by the Telangana State Union of Working Journalists.

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