Kept away from Parliament proceedings, journalists hit the street
If you stop the media from doing their work, you are simply restricting them, Press Club of India president Umakant Lakhera said
Journalists on Thursday took out a protest march against the restrictions imposed by the government with regard to covering Parliament proceedings. The protest, which received support from scores of opposition parties, saw journalists staging a protest at the Press Club of India building in New Delhi, demanding the restoration of media access to Parliament proceedings.
Senior TMC leader Derek O’Brien handed over a letter of solidarity to the agitating journalists in the national capital. In its letter, the TMC said that Parliament is the heart of the country's democracy and reporting on it is a cherished democratic tradition. Calling a free and robust media the soul of parliamentary democracy, the party said that the right to free speech, freedom of expression and thought are the foundations of a vibrant democracy. The Mamata Banerjee-led party called for the immediate restoration of all facilities for journalists to cover Parliament proceedings so that the institution is strengthened.
Press Club of India president Umakant Lakhera said, "During the Session, the Parliament becomes the hub of information and news. If you stop the media from doing their work, you are simply restricting them."
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wrote a letter to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on November 30, saying, 'the Parliament is the nerve centre of political activity and the media has the responsibility of informing the public about the burning issues.'
The Narendra Modi government has cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for imposing the restrictions in Parliament. The media personnel have been barred from covering the proceedings for the last year. The journalists are allowed to be on the premises but not inside the press galleries of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and also in the Central Hall.
On November 27, the Press Club of India had written an open letter to all political parties in Parliament and pointed out that that the ban imposed in markets, cinemas, restaurants and other public spaces at the peak of the pandemic had been lifted but the restrictions on reporting in Parliament continued to exist.
'We are concerned that there is a depressing trend emerging to isolate Parliament and parliamentarians from media gaze. The trend augurs ill for parliamentary democracy,' the letter said.