Strongly condemning the killing of two journalists in Bihar and Jharkhand, the Press Council of India (PCI) Saturday demanded enactment of a special law to ensure safety of scribes even as it set up two fact-finding committees to probe the incidents.
Officials sources said that the PCI chairperson C K Prasad has constituted a panel comprising its members Kosuri Amarnath, Prakash Dubey and Prajnananda Chaudhuri to look into the murder of a senior journalist and Siwan bureau chief of Hindi daily Hindustan Rajdeo Ranjan (42).
For the other incident in which a Hindi TV journalist Akhilesh Pratap Singh (35) was shot dead in Chatra, Jharkhand, the PCI has constituted a fact-finding Committee consisting of its members Prabhat Kumar Dash, Sondeep Shankar and Rajeev Ranjan Nag.
The PCI chairperson has directed that these reports be called from concerned SPs, DGPs and Chief Secretaries of the two states. Earlier, the PCI chief in a statement strongly condemned the killing of the two journalists and demanded that a special law be enacted to ensure safety of scribes and cases of attacks on them be tried by fast-track courts. In a statement here, Prasad also rued that in 96 per cent of such cases, the matter is not taken to logical conclusion.
“It is a matter of grave concern that three journalists were killed in the country in the last four months and another died in a tragic accident while on the line of duty,” he said. “I urge upon the Government of India to enact a special law for protection of journalists and speedy trial of cases of attacks and assaults them in special fast track courts as recommended by the Sub-Committee for Safety of Journalists appointed by the Press Council,” the PCI chief, who is a former judge of ths Supreme Court, said.
He also noted that 96 per cent of the cases of killing of journalists have not been taken to logical conclusion and are either languishing in the courts or in some cases, investigation reached dead-end in the last two decades, as reported by a Committee of the PCI.
He called upon editors, managements and working journalists in the country to launch a campaign to sensitize the civil society on the dangers of killing of journalists with impunity. Prasad expressed “deep sympathy” with the members of the bereaved families and urged the state governments to pay adequate compensation to them.
Meanwhile, the Indian Women’s Press Corps has also condemned the brutal murder of the two journalists, saying it was a direct attack on the freedom of the press.
“We urge the government to take immediate steps to find the culprits behind this dastardly crime and bring them to justice.
“The deliberate targeting of these two journalists, Rajdeo Ranjan in Bihar and Akhil Prasad Singh in Jharkhand, is clearly an attempt to prevent the functioning of a free and independent media in the country,” IWPC said in a statement.
It stated that the IWPC also views with deep concern the efforts to smear the reputation of media professionals in many parts of the country.
“Like other media organisations, we are worried over the worsening atmosphere for the media to operate independently in recent times. We stand together with the entire media in the opposition to any encroachment on the basic principle of freedom of the press,” it said.