RAIPUR, Mar 17: Indian Journalists Union (IJU) president Geetartha Pathak, who along with its secretary general Sabina Inderjit has been re-elected as head of country’s largest journalists union during its 10th Plenary in Raipur, Chhattisgarh on Friday, said “the journalists, media, and the journalism itself never have faced such a formidable challenge as we are experiencing during last eight years”.
“IJU has been relentlessly fighting for the rights of journalists, freedom of media, better working conditions for the media persons and for freedom of speech for all the citizens of the country since its inception,” said Pathak in his opening remarks.
Stating that ‘divisive trend’ in journalists unions is an area of great concern, he called for unity among journalists of the country for promotion of free press. IJU is spreading from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Northeast to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, he added.
Pathak also said media or journalism being a vital pillar of democracy needs more support from respective state governments and administrations.
“Although a few state governments came up with medical welfare schemes for journalists, many states have not taken any such initiative. Since journalism is a profession with many risks to their life and health, the government and the media employers should work out compulsory insurance for all journalists,” he added.
In her address, Sabina Inderjit gave a clarion call to IJU members and state leaderships to gear up and change their outlook as unions to meet new challenges. “Media industry is going through dramatic changes too. We are in the digital age now....we need to gear up and change our outlook as unions to meet new challenges,” she added.
Sabina, also the vice president of International Federation Journalists (IFJ), expressed her concern over ‘growing’ attacks on journalists. “Governments, both State and Central used the pandemic to gag the media from reporting ground situation; the DMA and Epidemic Act was brazenly misused to clamp down on independent reportage; there’s a clamp down on social media too with a skewed digital draft policy, which has been challenged in courts. There’s a chilling effect with FIRs filed or journalists are jailed for their writings and posts by using draconian Acts like NSA, UAPA etc,” she added.
While stating that Indian media is going through its trials and tribulations like other countries under nationalist governments, she called upon the journalists to fight the dangerous trend.
Earlier, the two-day national level plenary meeting was inaugurated by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. Addressing the inaugural session, Baghel said, “Chhattisgarh Cabinet today gave approval to the draft Bill on the law prohibiting attacks on journalists (Journalists Protection Act).”
“The Cabinet has given its nod to a Bill concerned with the prevention of violence against journalists and the same will be placed at State Assembly for its enactment,” he said.
He also urged the four pillars of democracy – the Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and the Media, to complement each other to strengthen democracy.
“If there is an imbalance among any of these pillars, especially the Media, then it will have an adverse impact on society,” he said.
Around 200 participants from 13 states are attending the two-day plenary meet. Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) president Amar Sangno, IJU NEC member Taya Bagang and senior journalist Mukul Pathak also attended the inaugural event.