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In ‘open’ NHRC meet,edgy govt orders media out

Rattled by questions over atrocities on Dalits,the state government on Tuesday ordered the mediapersons out of an “open” hearing of the National Human Rights Commission that began here yesterday.

Ahmedabad | Published: May 16, 2012 3:23:37 am

Rattled by questions over atrocities on Dalits,the state government on Tuesday ordered the mediapersons out of an “open” hearing of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that began here yesterday.

During the two-day public hearing that started on Monday,the NHRC team,led by its chairperson and former Chief Justice of India,Justice (retired) K G Balakrishnan,had received a number of complaints from various individuals and NGOs.

The team was expected to meet state government officials at Circuit House in Shahibaug area of Ahmedabad on Tuesday to get clarifications over the complaints,mainly about atrocities against Dalits and scheduled castes.

On Monday,the information and public relations officer of NHRC,Jaimini Kumar Srivastava,had made it clear that the next day’s meeting with state officials was not to be a closed-door meeting and that media would be allowed in.

Accordingly,mediapersons were present at the conference hall on Tuesday.

All was well when the meeting began with powerpoint presentations by Principal Secretary (Social Justice & Empowerment Department) Sanjay Prasad and Additional DGP (SC/ST Cell) Deepak Swaroop,who higlighted the state government’s “pro-Dalit approach”.

Swaroop even said the government was practising total “transparency” because of an “overactive media”.

After their presentation,NHRC chief Justice (retired) Balakrishnan and member B C Patel addressed the gathering.

However,as soon as the Commission started asking questions that were raised by Dalits and NGOs the previous day,Chief Secretary A K Joti promptly intervened,asking mediapersons to leave the hall since it was a “closed-door meeting”.

When confronted,NHRC member B C Patel said it was up to the state government to decide on whether to allow the media in or not. Joti,in turn,maintained they did not want media presence during the interaction.

The meeting was attended by top state officials,including the director general of police,district collectors and superintendents of police.

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