The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday clarified that it has not asked the Assam government to conduct an inquiry against journalists in the state who are opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, PTI reported.
Reports on Thursday had said that an undersecretary in the home ministry, in a letter dated April 16, had written to the heads of Assam’s home and political departments and police asking them to act against four journalists from the state based on a complaint filed by the Legal Rights Observatory, a “voluntary organisation” linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The MHA, however, said this was “absolutely baseless and a mischievous interpretation of facts”. “This is to clarify that the Union home ministry has not asked the government of Assam to initiate any enquiry against any editor or member of the press/media,” PTI quoted from the ministry’s statement.
The MHA said that a Vinay Joshi, who is a resident of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, had sent a grievance petition on February 14 to the ministry on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, stating that the issue has been “exploited by different militant groups like United Liberation Front of Assam and that the media has propagated militant ideology to give fresh boost to the militant groups”.
“Following this standard practice, the petition of Vinay Joshi was routinely forwarded to the Government of Assam,” the ministry said. “No enquiry of any kind has been ordered by the ministry. No report has been called from the Government of Assam in the matter.”
The ministry also said it was mischievous to suggest that the Centre has asked the Assam government to initiate action against an editor or media-person in the state.
The complaint filed by Legal Rights Observatory had accused five Guwahati-based media organisations and four journalists of “exploiting” the turmoil over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 in December and January in Assam. The complaint alleged that the “media-created unrest” led to the banned militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam launching a “fresh recruitment drive”.
On Friday, the Legal Rights Observatory clarified that the complaint against four media entities from Assam was regarding “spreading ULFA recruitment drive and not against those who opposed CAB-2016 [Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016]”.
The organisation said it accepts and respects views of those who support and oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “Still, we once again reiterate that, our complaint against 4 media entities, which aggressively broadcasted videos, photographs, statements, news items which were directly or indirectly promoting armed insurgency is still valid and we will explore all possible legal means to pursue it till conclusive end,” it said.