June 2018 News

Lal Singh Threatens Journalists, Editors Guild Urges J&K Governor To Take Action

25 June 2018

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India June 25 urged Jammu and Kashmir Governor N. N. Vohra to take action against Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Choudhary Lal Singh for his 'barely veiled threat of violence' against journalists in the Kashmir Valley. In a statement, the guild also urged the Tamil Nadu government to adhere to a recommendation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that bars governments from owning television channel distribution companies, saying its attention has been drawn to recent instances of how several TV channels in the state have been arbitrarily taken off the air for periods ranging between a couple of hours to a few days. Referring to Lal Singh's remarks, it said the BJP should reprimand its MLA, take suitable disciplinary action and ask him to withdraw the offending remarks after offering an apology. 'The Editors Guild of India condemns the despicable manner in which a barely veiled threat of violence has been issued against journalists by Lal Singh, an MLA belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party and a former minister in the Jammu and Kashmir government,' the statement said. Far from condemning the recent assassination of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, Lal Singh, in a media briefing, warned all journalists in Jammu and Kashmir to 'draw a line' unless they wished to be targeted like the slain editor of Rising Kashmir, it said. 'Such a warning not only betrays Singh's deep disregard for the role of the free press in a democracy, it also amounts to encouraging physical attacks against journalists in the sensitive state and elsewhere in the country.' On Tamil Nadu, the Guild said it is appalled that an First Information Report has been registered by the state police against a reporter and the management of Puthiya Thalaimurai, a Tamil news channel. 'All that the news channel did was to host a roundtable discussion on the protests in Tamil Nadu. The FIR was slapped even before the program was aired.' 'In the absence of a convincing explanation, this seems a shocking attempt to muzzle dissenting views and intimidate the media,' the Guild said. It said other affected television channels have also complained that such blackouts happen after they telecast programs that were not liked by the Tamil Nadu government, which controls the television channel content distribution agency, Arasu Cable. It said the state government has assured the media that it has no plans to blackout television channels but dangers to a free and unhindered distribution of television content will continue to lurk as long as the state government controls a channel distribution company accounting for a market share of over 60 percent. 'This also has the dangerous potential of undermining the functioning of a free media.' The Guild urged the government to take necessary steps to ensure that proper regulation is enforced so that no unfair or uncompetitive steps are taken by television channel distribution companies.