A large group of journalists marched to protest the central government’s decision to impose a new restriction on media persons to cover the Parliament’s proceedings. On December 2, dozens of journalists from various media organisations gathered at the Press Club of India (PCI) and marched to the Parliament building. The protest took place amid the ongoing winter session that started on November 29.
The march was held under the banner of the Editors Guild of India and Press Club Of India in order to restore the coverage from the parliament building. It was carried out after the government introduced a “lottery system” on Monday ahead of the winter session to decide which journalists will be allowed into the Parliament’s premises for covering stories.
The new system imposed restrictions on small newspapers and news channels, and reduced the number of journalists accessing the Press Gallery and the Central Hall of the Parliament.
Journalists who marched towards the parliament building were shouting: “media pe pabandi nahi chalegi” (Restrictions on media will not be allowed); “media ke bina loktantra nahi chalega” (Democracy will not work without media); “COVID kaal main patrakaron par pabandi bandh karo” (Stop restrictions on journalists during the time of COVID). Dozens of journalists were also marching with banners that read: ‘Journalists Against Restrictions on Media Entry Into Parliament’, and ‘We are for freedom of Press’.
Meanwhile, the PCI has said that its president Umakant Lakhera and vice president Shahid K. Abbas met with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in person today and handed over a memorandum demanding the entry of journalists into the Parliament to resolve the impasse.
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Earlier, the PCI had slammed the government over the new system for journalists’ entry into the Parliament building and called it a dangerous trend in a Parliamentary democracy like India. “In the largest democracy of the world, the entry of journalists in the Parliament is regulated through ‘lottery system’. This seems to be a ploy to censor transmission of news and the information to people,” tweeted the PCI.
Journalists are being denied entry into Parliament Houses over the past one and half years citing the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 27, the PCI wrote an open letter to leaders including those of the opposition, urging them to lift restrictions and allow media persons to cover stories inside the Parliament premises. The organisation pointed out that malls, restaurants, cinema halls have been reopened and that there is no need for such restrictions.