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BJP MLA writes to CM Ashok Gehlot, seeks law for protection of journalists in Rajasthan

In the letter dated Sunday, Singhvi, a six-time MLA from Chhabra in Baran district, said that he was informed by office bearers of the Journalists’ Association of Rajasthan (JAR) about the death of Abhishek Soni, a 27-year-old journalist, after an assault.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
January 31, 2021 8:30:12 pm
rajasthan, rajasthan congress, rajasthan panchayat elections, bjp, ashok gehlot, indian express newsChief Minister Ashok Gehlot (File)

Rajasthan BJP MLA Pratap Singh Singhvi has written to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, demanding that a law for the protection of journalists be enacted by the Congress government in the state.

In the letter dated Sunday, Singhvi, a six-time MLA from Chhabra in Baran district, said that he was informed by office bearers of the Journalists’ Association of Rajasthan (JAR) about the death of Abhishek Soni, a 27-year-old journalist, after an assault.

A video journalist, Soni died at a hospital in Jaipur on December 23, a fortnight after the attack on the night of December 8. Three men assaulted Soni near a roadside eatery in Jaipur after he confronted them, asking why they were staring at his female friend, who is an employee of a private news channel and was also injured in the attack.

The police had said that the attackers were students.

In his letter to the CM, Singhvi also mentioned two other incidents of assaults on a photojournalist and a journalist who reportedly exposed an alleged nexus between police and the sand mafia.

Singhvi said the government should enact a ‘Journalist Protection Act’. “There should be a mechanism for the protection of journalists. Journalists show the mirror to society and also report the truth. Politicians talk about their parties but journalists present the gist of an issue,” Singhvi told The Indian Express on Sunday.

On cases filed against journalists in BJP-ruled states, Singhvi said “I can only talk about Rajasthan. I am not that big a leader to talk about the entire country. Other states can take Rajasthan’s lead and enact similar laws. We should be a model state in this.”

Hari Ballabh Meghwal, state president, JAR, said that it has been their long-standing demand that the state government bring a law for the protection of journalists.

The ruling Congress hit back at the BJP over the letter by Singhvi, who is a known loyalist of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

“The only places where journalists are most unsafe today are BJP-ruled states. They (BJP) should first look into that,” Raghu Sharma, state minister for information and public relations told The Indian Express on Sunday.

Months after the political crisis in Rajasthan, on October 1 last year, an FIR was filed against former deputy CM Sachin Pilot’s aide Lokendra Singh and Aaj Tak’s Rajasthan Editor Sharat Kumar, accusing them of spreading “misleading and fake news” regarding accusations made in August.

Singh approached the high court in October seeking quashing of the FIR. During a hearing on December 1, the HC stayed any coercive action by the police against Singh till the disposal of the case.

Later, the Rajasthan police filed its final report in the phone tapping case, saying that “origin” of the WhatsApp texts — on the basis of which the FIR was filed— “could not be established”.

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