Freedom of press in peril in Telangana: Uttam Kumar

He said that journalists played an active role in the Telangana agitation and fearlessly exposed the injustices done to the region.

Hyderabad: Stating that the freedom of the press was in peril in India, especially Telangana, Congress MP and former TPCC President Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy appealed to the journalists to stand guard to protect independent journalism.

Speaking at the meeting Telangana Union of Working Journalists (TUWJ) Suryapet District on Sunday, Uttam Kumar Reddy spoke about the glorious past of the journalists and their commendable role in India’s freedom movement.

“Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest journalist of all time. Gandhi Ji was associated with six journals and he was the Editor of two journals. His first paper, Indian Opinion, was started in South Africa. Young India and Harijan played an important role in India’s freedom movement. Gandhi Ji has clearly stated that the sole aim of journalism should be service,” he said.

Similarly, he said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru began his career in journalism and became a great journalist of those times. “He established the National Herald on 9 September 1938. The paper carried on its masthead the words ‘Freedom is in Peril, Defend it with All Your Might’. Likewise, Bal Gangadhar Tilak started ‘Kesari’ in Marathi and ‘Maratha’ in English and used them as weapons to gain freedom for the country. He was an icon of fearless and ideal journalism. He did not change his views despite the British Empire booking sedition cases against him,” Uttam said.

He further said that journalists played an active role in the Telangana agitation and fearlessly exposed the injustices done to the region. “I salute the fearless journalists who struggled for India’s independence and freedom and the Telangana agitation. I wish to remind them what a great legacy they are carrying,” he stated.

Uttam Kumar Reddy said the media is also called the fourth estate and one of the pillars of democracy in India.

“In a few countries outside of North America and Western Europe, the press was as free as it was in India earlier. The present BJP government at the centre and TRS government in Telangana were curtailing all kinds of freedom and using influence to reduce press neutrality,” he remareked.

The Congress MP said that the journalists participated in the Telangana agitation with a lot of aspirations. However, he said it was highly unfortunate that the TRS government has failed in fulfilling all the assurances. “Health Cards given to journalists are not working. Wellness centres have been closed and there is no support from the government concerning healthcare for journalists and their families. Despite several assurances, journalists were neither given house sites nor houses. Even the education of journalists’ children has become a problem,” he said.

Uttam Kumar Reddy assured the journalists that he would work with TUWJ and other associations to improve the conditions of journalists. “I find it very disturbing that some media owners do not pay regular salaries to journalists and stringers. Some of the journalists are earning as little as a daily wage labourer. The state government is not even issuing Accreditation Cards on a regular basis just to deny them recognition and a small benefit of a free bus pass. This is an unfortunate situation and it must be changed for good,” he said.

The Congress MP appealed to all the journalists to write the truth irrespective of whether the person involved was an MLA, MP, CM or even PM. He said journalists must expose the wrongdoings and also highlight the good things. “Today the freedom of the press is in peril in India and Telangana and all journalists must stand guard and protect their freedom,” he said.

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