The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has strongly condemned the Himachal Pradesh government’s diktat that all journalists wishing to cover the Pradhan Mantri’s visit to Bilaspur, should submit a character certificate to the CID. The DUJ has also welcomed the last minute move by the government to withdraw the ill conceived order, the statement added.
In a joint statement today, the Delhi Union of Journalists, President S.K.Pande and General Secretary Sujata Madhok charged that the ‘diktat was itself ominous a colorable exercise of power meant to browbeat the press ‘.
It added : ‘The District administration’s order has raised a controversy, forcing the Himachal Police Chief to belatedly withdraw the order a day before the visit scheduled for Oct 5, 2022’.
The DUJ observes that such excessive surveillance of journalists is making the media’s job more difficult by the day. The ‘character certificate’ edict seems absurd, a moral rearmament type move by an overzealous district administration. But it is also an ominous sign of the times and indeed unprecedented. It smacks of a dangerous tendency to muzzle the press.
A deep-rooted suspicion of journalists and increasing moves to curb our access to government offices, ministries and even Parliament is indeed becoming a hallmark of this administration, from the centre to select states. The statement added “Only a favoured few are granted access, making governance less transparent. This militates against the democratic spirit of our Constitution, and smacks of a dangerous situation akin to an undeclared Emergency , signs of which are already visible.”