Gagging Katju only confirms situation in Bihar

Patna : What happened in the Wheeler Senate Hall of Patna University on Friday morning only confirmed how intolerant those close to powers that be in Bihar are. That the Principal of one of the most premier colleges of the state, which entered its 150th year only last month behaved like this before an esteemed chief guest just because he is the husband of a ruling Janata Dal (United) MLA only speaks how bad the situation is in Bihar.

Though Justice Katju repeatedly said that what he is saying is based on what he had heard here, yet the way the Principal of Patna College, Lal Keshwar Prasad Singh, started shouting only speaks volume about the real picture in the state. BiharTimes, and a couple of other mediahouses––none from print media––have been highlighting these facts since long. BiharTimes, in an exclusive report last year exposed how over Rs 28 crores was spent on advertisements to the print media in one year. What is strange is that a large amount of that money went to many vernacular dailies, which only exist on paper.

As the Chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice (Retired) Markanda Katju, has every right to speak. Prof Lal Keshwar Singh could have raised his points after his speech was over. But he chose to shout down the renowned jurist who hit back by stating that “you can not cow me down. If you have your point come out logically and explain it. You can not ask anyone to stop speaking.”

But the state government machinery seems to have learnt no lesson. A local Hindi channel on Friday evening invited a senior journalist to come over to speak in a panel discussion on the issue at 9:00 PM on Friday programme. Suddenly a phone call came late in the evening to that particular journalist informing him that the programme had been cancelled. What actually transpired in between could only be guessed.

Though some electronic media did highlight Justice Katju’s speech and the drama which followed it is to be seen how the print media publish the news. Only last month when the Assistant Editor of The Pioneer, Amarnath Tewary, was assaulted by a woman BJP leader and her son but the local media virtually blacked out the news though some national dailies and BBC extensively covered the incident.

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