Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, New Delhi: Today, Press Club of India witnessed a different side of its members. Today, its members made a human chain around it. This chain was not to stifle but to liberate the voice of its members. They were protesting against the violence being unleashed against journalists across the country and the efforts of the ruling class to silence journalists. It was to question the failure of investigating agencies in nabbing the perpetrators of this violence against journalists.
In true Gandhian spirit, journalists, retired and trainees, seasoned and beginners, those from print and TV, traditional and alternative media, men and women, marched around in the scorching sun to shake the insensitive central government and inefficient state governments out of their slumber of inaction.
The human chain created by journalists marched in silence from the Press Club of India to the premises of Indian Women Press Corp at Windsor Place. There was no shouting of slogans but the whispers of the contemporary socio-political storytellers were loud enough for those willing to lend their ears.
Undertones explained the importance of a free Press and how the central government is trying to put pressure on journalists to fall in line by either the lure of lucre and X, Y and Z categories of security or the threats of IT raids, false cases, and ED queries.
All condemned the killings of journalists. They warned the country that if the voice of free Press was suppressed, the democratic dictatorship would control everything. Autocratic decisions would become the order of the day. The fourth pillar of democracy may crumble, bringing down the democratic and all-inclusive systems of governance, resulting in the suppression of the distressed voices of India’s ordinary citizens.
They demanded that the culprits of violence against the media professionals, in physical, social, pscychological or troll form should be punished. Most of them condemned the conformist or godi media too.
They condemned the undeclared emergency and the ruthless pressure being applied to silence the sincere critiques of the government’s policies and programmes. They observed that the danger to the security, liberty and privacy of citizens of the country is under direct threat, as is evident from the killings of Indian citizens in the name of cow, religion and cultural practices.
Their demands included safety and security of working journalists, arrests of accused of violence against scribes and accountability of central and state governments.
Associate Editor of The Morning Chronicle, Nawed Akhter, retired journalist Mujeebuddin Khan and other protesting journalists later signed a memorandum to be given to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh “requesting his intervention for a status report on attacks against journalists in various states and action in this regard.”