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IJU condemns the direction of MoH to take action against Assam Media organizations

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Hyderabad: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on Saturday expressed its shock over the direction of the Union Ministry of Home affairs to the Assam government to take action against one Assamese daily, three Assamese news channels and a news website for their reportages on state wide agitation against Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The direction of the ministry has come following a complaint of a Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated organization.
The convenor of the RSS backed Legal Rights Observatory, Vinay Joshi wrote a letter to the Home Ministry with allegations that the Assamese daily, Asomiya Pratidin, its editor Nitumoni Saikia; three news channels, Pratidin Time, its editor Ajit Bhuyan, Prag News and its editor Afrida Hussain, News 18-Assamese TV channel and the news website, Inside NE and independent journalist Manjit Mahanta created unrest in Assam by exploiting the turmoil over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 in December and January last. Joshi alleged that through their writings the media organisations and the journalists had helped the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to recruit new cadre to foment violence and trouble in the state.
In a statement, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) President and Press Council of India (PCI) member Amar Devulapalli and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said that the direction of the home ministry to the Assam government to take action against journalists and news organisations for publishing news stories of widespread agitation against citizenship bill in Assam and other North Eastern (NE) states was unacceptable and a direct attack on freedom of press and expression guaranteed by the constitution of India.
“IJU is surprised how the Union Home Ministry can act on the basis of a complaint lodged by an irresponsible organization which has its root in religious bigotry. IJU holds that journalists and media organizations are duty bound to report news of a popular agitation involving masses. The so called organization, the Legal Rights Observatory is trying to curb freedom of press and media rights by intimidating with the help of the government,” the statement said.
The Union rubbished the claim of the RSS backed organization that the reportage would help the extremist elements and said it was the duty of the media to inform the people even about the activities of the banned organizations. “If the Centre can talk to the extremist organizations of northeast and even meet them why media cannot publish interviews of the leaders of banned outfits if it is related to the problems of the state”, they asked.
The IJU demanded that the Central Government should immediately withdraw its direction to the state government to take action against the five news organizations and four journalists as the action amounted to gagging of the press which was ultra vires of fundamental right to freedom of press enshrined in the constitution. It called upon the organizations of the working journalists and editors to come out and fight against such anti-democratic actions of the government. The IJU also urged upon the Press Council of India (PCI) to take suo motu cognizance of the issue and direct the Union Home Ministry to withdraw the direction immediately.

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