Senior Journalists denounce Bihar Chief Secretary's threat to media

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Patna : Senior journalists of Bihar, or those who have worked in the state, have taken strong exception to Bihar Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee's BIADA probe report ( which said there is an attempt to adversely affect the progress of the state through 'so-called exposure by negative and irresponsible reporting.'

What is more, journalists were shocked by what the Chief Secretary said 'effective legal actions to curb such practices.' The report also questioned timing of telecast and said that it smacks of a conspiracy.

'How can a permanent executive (bureaucracy) call it negative and irresponsible reporting. What type of legal actions is he talking about in his report? If the state government or those who have been allotted the land have any problem they should just move the court?' asked a Patna-based Editor.

The tone and tenor of the report have surprised and shocked even independent journalists. 'This just arms-twisting,' said a scribe while another one said that this is warning from the state government.

Former Resident Editor of Hindustan Times, Patna, N R Mohanty, said it is extremely dangerous trend and the Chief Secretary has exceeded his limits. Mohanty, who is at present Director, Jagaran Institute of Mass Communication, added that if the Nitish government has any grievances it should move the Press Council of India rather than threatened media with the help of the Chief Secretary.

'Was that in terms of reference of inquiry,' asked Ali Abid, formerly with ATN in New Delhi, Rozana and Pataliputra Times. ATN, it needs to be recalled, was the first private news channel of India.

'Who is this Chief Secretary to gag the media. The terms of reference should be made public. Why not an independent body probe the whole land deal,' he further asked. Former Chief Reporter of The Times of India, Patna, K K Singh, said exactly the same and added that it is a move to browbeat the media, which is reprehensible.

It needs to be recalled that on July 18 IBN-7 and Mahua News highlighted the story of what they said the land scam in Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority. They followed the story for a couple of days forcing the chief minister, Nitish Kumar, to ask the Chief Secretary to probe the matter. Later, the Indian Express too followed the story in great details.

The Opposition parties too got an issue to attack the state government, which had already been under fire over the Forbesganj BIADA land issue, which led to the death of four people on June 3 last. Journalists are unequivocal in denouncing the move to slap legal notices on some media houses, which did the story on BIADA land.

However, many political observers ask as to how can the Chief Secretary go against the ministers so close to the chief minister, who have already taken a stand. Thus his report was on expected line. courtesy : The Bihar Times