The Report of three-member Committee consisting of Shri Rajeev Ranjan Nag as Convenor and S/Shri Krishna Prasad and K. Amarnath as Members constituted on 12.9.2014 by the Chairman, Press Council of India to probe threats to the media in Telangana following remarks reported to have been made by the Chief Minister of the State, Shri K. Chandrasekhar Rao, in Warangal City on 9th September, 2014 was adopted by the Council in its meeting held on 27.10.2014 at New Delhi.
An open enquiry was made by the Committee with the journalists/Journalists’ Unions and State Government officers. On the basis of evidence and arguments at Hyderabad and Warangal, the Committee gave its findings and recommendations observing that no media person/house/journalist/journalist’s union denied that the Chief Minister had made the comments. They were of the firm opinion that the CM had deliberately and wilfully made these threats to browbeat the media so that it would not critically scrutinize his policies, programs and actions, and so that other media may fall in line, or else.
The Committee attempts to meet the CM of Telangana, the Chief Secretary and DGP to elicit their views on the points of reference made to the Committee was not successful. While making general observation that those in public life and power politics to exercise restraint and behave in irresponsible and glacial manner, the Committee recommended that-
The PCI and the Government of India should impress upon the CM of Telangana state that blatant threats to the media and media personnel violates the oath of office he took to protect and defend the Constitution of India and follow the rule of law.
The CM of Telangana should be directed to restrain himself from making provocative statements against journalists or in saluting and supporting organizations which seek to limit the flow of information to the people, on the basis of nativity or domicile status.
The State Government of Telangana should be directed to take immediate action to create the conditions and atmosphere where free and fair journalism can be practiced by print and electronic journalists without fear of retribution by the State or the sword of ‘business terrorism’ by non-state actors.
All the cases registered against journalists for participating the protest actions should be withdrawn or fast tracked. Prompt action should be taken against the police official responsible for attacking the journalists and roughing up women journalists at Hyderabad and Warangal. The photographers and videographers whose equipment was damaged during the police action should be compensated.
The State should not discriminate against the journalists on the ground of their nativity.
The State Government should immediately take steps to enable MSOs to withdraw their illegal blackout of TV9 and ABN Andhra Jyothy in the interest of freedom of media and people’s right to know, as enshrined in the Constitution.
Print and electronic media organizations must put in place sterner mechanisms for greater editorial scrutiny of public interest journalist.
The Council, adopting the report decided to release in the public domain.