Order Asking Journos for Character Certificates to Cover Modi Himachal Rally Withdrawn
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A notification issued last week by the district administration of Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh (HP), asking print, digital and TV journalists from both state-owned and private media organisations to produce character certificates to cover Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dussehra rally on Wednesday was withdrawn on Tuesday following a major controversy.
Modi would address the rally at Luhnu Ground, in poll-bound HP, inaugurate the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and lay the foundation stone of projects worth more than Rs 3,650 crore following the cancellation of his last rally in Mandi due to inclement weather on September 24.
And the Himachal govt has now demanded a good character certificate from all journalists who wish to cover the PM's rally in the state headed for elections this winter. https://t.co/X0nwHI6mRr
— Mrinal Pande (@MrinalPande1) October 4, 2022
An official notification issued by the police on September 29 asked the district public relations officer (DPRO) to supply a list of all press correspondents, photographers, videographers, and teams of Doordarshan and AIR along with “a certificate of their character verification” to the office of the deputy superintendent of police, CID, Bilaspur by October 1 and their “access within the rally or meeting will be decided by this office”.
Kuldeep Guleria, DPRO, Bilaspur, refused to accept the official identity cards to issue security passes and also demanded an official stamp on the digital ID cards of journalists, India Today TV reported. “This formality is mandatory to all. The SP and CID departments are asking for the certificates of character verification,” he said.
The notification, which tiggered a major controversy with opposition political parties and journalists condemning the move, was withdrawn.
The Bilaspur superintendent of police wrote to the DPRO on Tuesday noting that the notification, “issued inadvertently”, now “stands withdrawn”.
Himachal Pradesh director general of police Sanjay Kundu also clarified in a tweet that all journalists are welcome to cover the event, the state’s police will “facilitate their coverage” and “any inconvenience if regretted”.
All journalists are most welcome to cover Hon’ble Prime Minister’s visit to Himachal Pradesh tomorrow 5th October, 2022.
Himachal Pradesh Police will facilitate their coverage.
Any inconvenience is regretted.
— Sanjay Kundu, IPS (@sanjaykunduIPS) October 4, 2022
Earlier, Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Pankaj Pandit termed the notification “humiliating” and said that he witnessed such a “bizarre demand for the first time” in his 22 years of career in journalism. “Modi-ji is not visiting the state for the first time. The demand to produce a character certificate is humiliating and an attempt to curb the media’s activities,” he told India Today TV.
Himachal Congress Committee chief spokesperson Naresh Chauhan also slammed the notification and said that it is against the freedom of the media.
Journalist Ismat Ara tweeted: “In India, the ruling party now decides who can or cannot cover an event of national significance.”
In India, the ruling party now decides who can or cannot cover an event of national significance.
Journalists asked to produce "character certificate" for covering Prime Minister Modi's visit to an election bound state, Himachal Pradesh.
— Ismat Ara (@IsmatAraa) October 4, 2022
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) national spokesperson Clyde Crasto tweeted: “Instead of Journalists, #BJP should ask for Character Certificates of their own leaders.”
Asking #Journalists to give Character Certificates to cover PM #Modi ji's event in Himachal Pradesh is an insult to their Fraternity.
Background check for security reasons is understandable.
Instead of Journalists, #BJP should ask for Character Certificates of their own leaders
— Clyde Crasto - क्लाईड क्रास्टो (@Clyde_Crasto) October 4, 2022
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