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NAJ, DUJ Blast IT Rules Amendments

The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) in a joint statement today have blasted both the draft amendments to the IT Rules, 2021 and the use of emergency powers to block attempts to air the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) documentary on the 2002 riots.

In a joint statement DUJ President S.K.Pande, DUJ General Secretary Sujata Madhok, NAJ Secretary General N. Kondaiah and APWJF General Secretary G.Anjaneyulu have stressed that the Press Information Bureau (PIB), cannot be turned into a Police Information Bureau to curb the media as was done during the Emergency. PIB’s role should continue to be that of providing government news to the media. It cannot be tasked with monitoring and censoring the media and identifying as ‘fake news’ any information inconvenient to the government.

It is regrettable that the PIB, under the control of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, is today living up to its old reputation, under the British Raj, as a war time organization intended to screen the news coming from various theatres of war, rather than a Press Information Bureau (PIB). It is the job of PIB to facilitate media persons’ access to official information. It is shocking that PIB has reportedly refused on some occasions to provide even accredited special correspondents the information they seek on government matters.

Further, the recent amendment to the IT Rules gives not just PIB but also all Union government ministries and departments the powers to demand that news they object to be taken down by social media companies. This seems to be a move aimed at censoring the small, independent digital media.

The journalists’ bodies are also deeply distressed by the increasing attacks on students and their unions for trying to relay the BBC documentary in various universities. This is part of a continuum of attacks on the rights and freedom of the press.

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