Journalists in Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur staged a protest on Thursday after Assembly Speaker CP Joshi curtailed the movement of journalists in the Vidhan Sabha premises, The Times of India reported. Press club members boycotted proceedings on Friday as well, according to The Indian Express.
According to the new arrangement, access has been limited to the press gallery inside the House to watch the proceedings and the press room, thus denying entry to any other place within the Assembly premises, including the offices of the Speaker and ministers. Reporters won’t have access to sections of the Assembly from where they obtain records of House proceedings or copies of the members’ speeches in the House. This measure is purportedly aimed at increasing security.
Earlier, journalists had unhindered access to the Speaker’s chambers and those of the chief minister, ministers and the MLAs’ lobbies, PTI reported.
Former president of Pink City Press Club, Virendra Singh Rathore, said journalists wearing black armbands will protest on Friday as well. “We have boycotted [the proceedings] today and it will continue in a democratic manner.” Rathore said. “This is an attack on our rights. The previous government had brought a ‘black law’ to gag journalists and we had protested then which pushed the government on back foot.”
Speaker CP Joshi had chaired a meeting with the Press Gallery Advisory Committee on Wednesday, during which it was decided that entry passes for the Assembly will be issued on the basis of circulation of newspapers, The Indian Express reported, quoting from an official release. It was also decided that the number of passes issued to journalists would be restricted with the current Assembly session.
Members of the Press Gallery Advisory Committee, however, said that they were not consulted before taking the decisions.
Journalists who cover House proceedings staged a protest outside the Speaker’s officer on Thursday against the new measure. A delegation of journalists also met the Speaker, requesting him to withdraw the measures restricting the movement of journalists, but Joshi refused to do so.
“He [Joshi] said that there is crowding inside the Assembly and that he wants to run it in a manner similar to the Parliament,” an unidentified delegation member said, according to The Indian Express. Another delegation member quoted the Speaker, saying ministers had raised complaints.