Sounds weird, but it’s true. Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the hilly state of Himachal, Bilaspur’s district administration sought character certificates from the journalists coming to cover the PM visit to get security passes.
The administration has issued a notice to this effect. The notice clearly makes it mandatory for all the journalists who wish to cover PM Modi’s visit and rally to produce their respective character certificate before the administration.
The notice states that all journalists, whether from privately-owned print, digital, and television or representatives of the state-run media, including the All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan to bring certificates of “character verification”.
The notice, issued by the police on September 29, further asks the District Public Relations Officer (DPRO) to give out a list of all press correspondents, photographers, videographers, and teams of Doordarshan and AIR along with “a certificate of their character verification,” multiple media reports mentioned.
“The certificate of character verification may be supplied to the office of Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID, Bilaspur by October 1, 2022 positively. Their access within the rally or meeting will be decided by this office,” the notification read.
The notice has stirred resentment among politicians and journalists.
Naresh Chauhan, the chief spokesperson of the Himachal Congress committee, has condemned the notice, and asserted that the move is an impeachment of the freedom of the media.
Reports also claimed that the DRPO of Bilaspur has announced that the character certificate for journalists is mandatory, and has also mandated an official stamp on the digital ID cards of journalists.
However, after the news stirred a hornet’s nest, Himachal Pradesh top cop Sanjay Kundu said, “All journalists are most welcome to cover the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s visit to Himachal Pradesh tomorrow 5th October, 2022. Himachal Pradesh Police will facilitate their coverage. Any inconvenience is regretted,” reported India Today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public rally in the state after inaugurating AIIMS Bilaspur on Wednesday. He will also lay the foundation stone of projects worth over Rs 3,650 crore.
The PM will also participate in the Dussehra celebrations in Kullu.