The Himachal Pradesh Police on Tuesday withdrew an order requiring journalists to produce a “character certificate” to be able to cover Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on Wednesday.
The order was issued by the Bilaspur Superintendent of Police on September 29. Opposition parties said the directive was an attempt to control the media and was undemocratic.
Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu said on Tuesday that the directive has been withdrawn.
“Any inconvenience caused in this regard is regretted,” a press note from the director general of police’s office said. “HP Police welcomes all the journalists for the coverage of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s visit to Himachal Pradesh on 5th October, 2022, and assures to facilitate their coverage.”
The September 29 order seeking character certificates applied to all correspondents, photographers, videographers as well as teams of state-run Doordarshan and All India Radio, according to India Today.
The directive required the district public relations officer to submit a list of mediapersons who were to cover Modi’s visit to the deputy superintendent of police, Bilaspur, by October 1.
The Congress said that the demand for character certificates was an assault on the culture of democracy. “These people [BJP] have been assaulting the culture of Himachal Pradesh for the past five years,” the party said. “Himachal will never tolerate this insult.”
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Pankaj Pandit said that he had witnessed such a bizzare order for the first time in his 22-year journalism career, according to India Today.
“Modi ji is not visiting the state for the first time,” Pandit said. “The demand to produce a character certificate is humiliating and an attempt to curb the media’s activities.”