The second Hem Chandra Pandey Memorial Lecture will be delivered at 4.30 pm, July 2, 2012, at Jawahar Lal Nehru National Youth Centre near the Gandhi Peace Foundation at Deen Dayal Upadhaya Marg near ITO in Delhi.
The lecture: ‘Indian Democracy, Peoples’ Right and State of Journalism’ will be delivered by Gautam Navlakha, veteran democratic rights activist and consulting editor with Economic and Political Weekly (EPW).
The Hem Chandra Pandey Memorial Committee seeks your presence at the event to strengthen the struggle for justice.
Here is the press statement by the Hem Chandra Pandey Memorial Committee:
Today, young journalist Hem Chandra Pandey is not with us. But he will always be remembered for the principles of courage he set for Indian journalism, especially in the times when journalism has largly become nothing but sheer money-making business driven by corporate and political interests of various ruling dispensations. It has become an occupation in which a journalist is required to be a non-committal professional whose sole aim is to report the events of the day — mechanically. The corporate media compels journalists to become robots and completely cut themselves off from the society.
Hem never subscribed to this kind of journalism. As a journalist, Hem would always write about people’s sufferings and plight. As and when needed, he would also actively participate in people’s movements. He was a journalist who always stood for the common people rather than industrialists who endorse objectivity and neutrality in the guise of corporate journalism which fulfills the insatiable greed of the elite.
On July 2, 2010, he was brutally killed in a fake encounter by Andhra Police along with Azad, CPI (Maoist) Spokesperson. This incident triggered off all round condemnation from all walks of life since many people knew him as a committed activist and journalist. A number of journalists and justice-loving people openly challenged this fake encounter. A team of human rights activists, lawyers and former judges collected all possible evidence related to this fake encounter. People demanded an impartial enquiry into this fake encounter.
But the government remained adamant. Later on, the Supreme Court of India gave an order seeking a CBI enquiry. Finally, the central government was left with no choice but to ask the CBI to conduct an inquiry which was a complete eye-wash.
The fact remains, however, that how can this UPA government order an impartial enquiry when its own Union Home Minister is the alleged mastermind of this brazen violation of justice. Recently, the CBI submitted its final report to the Supreme Court which says that Hem and Azad were killed in a \\\’real encounter\\\’.
Significantly, the Supreme Court had earlier stated during the proceedings of this case that “our republic must not kill its own children” and had ordered a CBI enquiry. Aggrieved Hem’s mother Rama Pandey, read this as a ray of hope for justice.
Even as CBI twisted it into a real encounter, it has devastated all her hopes. Neither Hem’s mother nor we are ready to accept this. We undoubtedly feel that this republic is so cruel that it kills its own children like Hem. This trend is continuing as all dissenting voices are either being eliminated or sent to dungeons.
The life imprisonment given to Seema Azad, Allahabad based journalist and civil Rights activist and her husband Vishva Vijay is a recent example of this trend.
At a time when injustice is all pervasive, Hem’s memory fills us with a collective resolution to fight against all forms of injustice and our universal right to dissent.
After Hem’s assassination, his friends and like-minded journalists got together to form the Hem Chandra Pandey Memorial Committee. We have decided that we will organize a lecture series on his martyrdom day every year. The purpose of this lecture is to initiate a critical debate on the relationship of Indian society, politics and journalism and to create alternatives for a better society. This is going to be the second Hem Memorial Lecture.
Last year, the first lecture was delivered by Sumanta Banerjee, a veteran journalist and author.
He said: “Hem Chandra Pandey has joined the illustrious ranks of media activists starting from John Reed, Edgar Snow, Jack Belden, Harish Mukherjee, Brahmabandob Upadhyaya to Saroj Dutta and various other anonymous and conscientious reporters functioning courageously in distant corners of our country.” This time, we have invited Gautam Navlakha to speak on \\\’Indian democracy, Peoples’ Rights and the State of Journalism\\\’. Currently, he is Consulting Editor with EPW and has been a strong advocate of democratic rights in the country for several years.
Your presence in the Second Hem Chandra Pandey Memorial Lecture will be a political statement against the murderers of dissent. Join us, in solidarity, and in memory of young Hem, killed in a fake encounter by the Indian State.