The India Post, Chandigarh, 3rd November, 2008:Even as widespread protests by journalists across Punjab against the arbitrary functioning of Punjab police in arresting NDTV journalist Ashwini Malhotra in Phagwara on Diwali night continued unabated today with journalists carrying out massive demonstration in front of Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar
, a high level Joint Action Committee JAC comprising journalists from Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala today gave a call for launching massive series of protests against Punjab police beginning Tuesday. In an emergency meeting of Joint Action Committee held at Chandigarh Press Club under the aegeis of The Press Club, Chandigarh, the committee gave a call for state wide demonstrations and dharnas by journalists across all districts and sub divisions in Punjab on November 4. The journalists have been called upon to wear black badges and muffles on their faces to register their angst against Punjab police.
Calling upon the journalists to rise against the growing incidents of humiliation and harassment of scribes on part of Punjab Police, the Joint Action Committee flayed the callous and indifferent attitude of Punjab Police and higher functionaries of Punjab government in overseeing blatant mockery of freedom of press, especially electronic media. The committee called upon all unions and associations of journalists across Punjab to organize and join protests against Punjab police outside Deputy Commissioners’ offices and concerned officials in all districts and sub divisions. Memoranda would be submitted to all these offices by journalists in all districts and a massive signature campaign will be started to be sent later on to the President of India, the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and Governor of Punjab.
The high level meeting of representatives of journalists from various districts chaired by Sh Sarabjit Pandher, President, Chandigarh Press Club took serious note of the Phagwara incident in which an NDTV journalist Mr Ashwini Malhotra was most humiliatingly arrested on charges of trespassing and extortion. While lambasting the manner of arrest of a reputed journalist Shri Pandher called upon the establishment to proceed against the erring officials. The Joint Action Committee decided to hold protestations and dharnas across the state on November 4 to register strongest possible resentment against the Punjab police functioning which has once again brought to fore the issue of freedom of journalists in carrying on with their legitimate and moral duty to reach out to the truth of any information and news report.
The Panel also demanded a high level probe into the alleged incident involving a gang rape of a girl student in a girls hostel of Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar recently which is quintessentially linked to the contentious arrest of NDTV journalist who had gone their with at least four others to ascertain the whereabouts of the victim. Panel sought thorough probe into the whole issue which has eluded the watchful eyes of Punjab police and has led to a series of accusations and counter accusations. The panel will call upon the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Prakash Singh Badal on earliest possible opportunity to lodge its protest and apprise the CM of blatant disregard being shown by Kapurthala police and Punjab police in dealing with highly objectionable accusations on part of LPU officials. Shri Pandher termed the repeated violations of code of decency by Punjab police as extremely shocking as on earlier occasions also, in cases against journalists in Bathinda, Chandigarh and other places erring officials have been caught on a wrong foot while exceeding their briefs. Shri Pandher sought a fair inquiry into the issue of NDTV journalist’s arrest after dropping frivolous and ludicrous charges of trespassing against the journalists involved.