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On PM rally eve, Himachal govt in dock over media surveillance

The police and security agencies put the working journalist under the scanner by seeking a character certificate for issuance of passes to cover the rally at Bilaspur.

SNS | Shimla |

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed Himachal rally slated for tomorrow in Bilaspur and Kullu, controversy kicked off putting the state government in a dock on the issue of character verification of journalists.

The Pput the working journalist under the scanner by seeking a character certificate for issuance of passes to cover the rally at Bilaspur.

In a communique written by Superintendent of Police Bilaspur to the District Public Relation office, Bilaspur relating to the media coverage, the police asked for ‘list of press correspondents, photographers and videographers, team of Doordarshan Kendra and AIR along with a certificate of their character verification’.

This put the police in a spot with the media fraternity and opposition parties lashing out and objecting to such an act.

Causing a major embarrassment to the police, the official letter had to be withdrawn and regret was shown purporting it as a miscommunication.

Himachal Pradesh DGP Sanjay Kundu in a damage control act took to social media and expressed regret for any inconvenience caused and welcomed all the journalists for the coverage of the PM’s rally and assured to facilitate their coverage.

Meanwhile, Congress and AAP slammed the BJP government for the incident.

All India Congress Committee spokesperson Alka Lamba in her tweet said, “Characterless BJP leaders are demanding character certificates from Himachal journalists.”

State Congress spokesperson Naresh Chauhan said that the manner in which the state government and police were functioning was totally anti-media.

“It was not for the first time when the state police have indulged in surveillance on media persons. Recently, the security agencies searched the press conference venue with a dog squad when the media persons were already seated, just minutes before the arrival of the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur,” he said.

“The incident is unfortunate and condemnable to seek a character certificate from the fourth pillar of democracy. This is probably the first such incident in the country of issuing a decree, which is no less than the murder of democracy,” said AAP State spokesperson Gaurav Sharma.