Journalists invited to attend the annual R N Kao Memorial Lecture at the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) headquarters in New Delhi have been informed they are not allowed at the event.
The memorial lecture, to which a select group of journalists covering internal security are invited, is this year being delivered by Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday, August 20.
Invitations for the event, followed by numbered identity tags and parking labels, were delivered to the journalists, earlier in the month. Only to be followed by a telephone call from a R&AW official on Sunday that the invitation was being recalled and the media was not being permitted to cover the event.
The R&AW official emphasised that each journalist on their list was being contacted individually.
The lecture series was inaugurated in 2007 on the death anniversary of R N Kao, the founder of the external intelligence agency. Over the years, the memorial lecture has become a keenly awaited event in the calendar of serving and retired intelligence officials. It also became the only occasion when a section of the media was allowed to enter the high-security zone of R&AW headquarters near Lodi Road, ask questions of the speaker and freely interact with other invitees over high tea.
The high-profile lecture series has always been attended by members of the Kao family and several “Kao boys” , retired R&AW officials, are known to fly in to the capital especially to attend it.
Prominent persons, who have in the past, delivered the R N Kao Memorial lecture include diplomats, bureaucrats, even industrialists. Among them have been Shashi Tharoor, Kumarmangalam Birla, N N Vohra, Piyush Pandey, Raghuram Rajan, Naresh Chandra and Pratap Bhanu Mehta. This is the first year that a serving minister has been invited to deliver the prestigious lecture.
This comes shortly after restrictions were imposed on the entry of PIB-accredited journalists into the Finance Ministry.