The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday voiced concern over alleged intimidation and harassment of journalists by Union minister Smriti Irani and the CPI(M)-led government in Kerala.
In a statement, the Guild claimed that Irani intimidated a journalist during her visit to her Lok Sabha constituency Amethi on June 9 and threatened to call the owners of the Hindi daily he worked for.
In a separate incident, on June 10, a senior woman journalist in Kerala was named as an accused in a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the state police in response to a complaint filed by the Student Federation of India (SFI), the student arm of the ruling CPI(M) party.
“This trigger-happy approach to browbeat and harass reporters and news camera persons undermines the freedom of the press,” the Guild said in a statement.
“The minister’s threat to call newspaper owners and couch journalistic questioning as an affront to the people, was a clear intimidatory tactic,” the Guild said.
It also urged the newspapers to reinstate the journalist sacked in connection with the case.
The Guild urged the CPI(M) government in Kerala to withdraw the case against the female journalist with immediate effect.
“It is a matter of deep concern that mere reportage on political leaders can invite an FIR and questioning by the police,” it said, referring to the Kerala incident.
Meanwhile, Smriti Irani had earlier said people who did not get help from the Congress approached the BJP-led Central government that has gained people’s faith through their nine years of service.
Irani’s remarks came over an elderly man donning a T-shirt with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s picture who sought her help when she visited Bedhauna village in Chhatoh block of her Amethi constituency in this district.
The Amethi MP spoke to the elderly man and also shared a picture with him on social media.
“Yeh Hai Mohabbat… when the work is not done by them but reaches us because they also know that we have done it #9YearsOfSeva,” Irani tweeted while taking a jibe at Congress. She asked the officials concerned to address the man’s complaints.
In related news, on June 10, Irani hit out at the Congress over its leader Rahul Gandhi’s “mohabbat ki dukan” pitch, saying by talking about opening a shop, they have proved politics for them is a business.
In a speech at an event in the US earlier this week, Gandhi had referred to his slogan made during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, during which he had said “nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabbat ki dukan kholenge” (in the market of hate, shops of love will be opened).
He had also criticised the BJP, saying that “India has understood that it cannot go forward with the type of hatred that the BJP is spreading in society”.
“The Congress workers are talking about opening of a shop, and they have proved that for them politics is a business, and they have nothing to do with ‘raashtraniti’,” Irani told reporters here when asked about the ‘mohabbat ki dukan’ remark.