Thursday 13 August 2020

Withdraw case against Tribune reporter that is attack on functioning of journalists

- Posted on 07 January 2018

Chandigarh, January 7: It is shocking that the BJP government at the centre has registered case against The Tribune report Rachna Khaira on the basis of her expose of chinks in Aadhar system that should have national security concerns. She should have rather been appreciated for proving as to how easy it is to breach the Aadhar data base that is supposed to be highly secure. The cost was just of this operation was just Rs 500.

While this case betrays the authoritarian face of the present dispensation ruling the country, it poses serious issues concerning the functioning of the journalists. The functioning of journalists should not be confused here with the functioning of the media. Journalists are part of the media but they are not The Media. The government  tame managements to control the media rather than appeasing the journalists and the managements are by and large too happy to oblige the rulers, who-so-ever they might be.

The government in this biggest democracy is set to define the parameters of the working of the journalists and it is for them to fight it out irrespective of the fact whether they are supported by the managements or not. This basic issue needs to be settled as to who and what constitutes the media as in the common man’s perception even a part time reporter working in a small town is the media. The journalists too have perpetuated this myth.

The media is considered to be the Fourth Estate but going by the registration of the case for exposing threat to the system itself, it is clear that one pillar of democracy is determined to bulldoze all other pillars. It is always easy to begin with the media. This happened during Emergency. Even otherwise,  a major section of this so called media is too pliant. The situation has worsened with propaganda channels functioning under the category of news channels.

It is pertinent to mention that journalists are not allowed to report freely in states like Chhattisgarh where human rights violations are too common under the name of fighting Red militancy. This happened in Punjab for more than a decade during militancy but there were no gags on the media.

The journalists should have joined hands in support of their colleagues facing repressive regime in Chhattisgarh. Now a Jalandhar based young reporter has been targeted by the government at the centre and that too for pointing out a major weakness in the Aadhar security system.

This expose should have been treated as an act of Desh Bhakti rather than a crime. But then India is witnessing new normal.

Here is the wake-up call. The members of the Fourth Estate must mobilise pressure to force the government to withdraw this case that otherwise would define their functioning.

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