The government withdrew a notification on Tuesday after it sparked outrage and a sense of astonishment among media covering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one-day visit to Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
A list of all press writers, photographers, and videographers was requested in the letter dated September 29 ” along with a certificate of their character verification.”
Even journalists working for the government-run Doordarshan and All India Radio had to abide by this.
By October 1st, the journalists were requested to submit the certificates “positively.” “Their access within the rally or meeting will be decided by this office,” the notification said.
The Superintendent of Police, Bilaspur, issued a new notification on Tuesday with apologies.
“It is regretted that the letter was inadvertently issued by this office. The letter stands withdrawn,” the notification said. It also added that all media are ‘welcome’ and their coverage will be facilitated.
The new letter said that passes would be given to everyone who was suggested by the government’s media department.
The Himachal Pradesh police chief, Sanjay Kundu, also tweeted his regrets.
“All journalists are most welcome to cover Hon’ble Prime Minister’s visit to Himachal Pradesh tomorrow 5th October, 2022. Himachal Pradesh Police will facilitate their coverage. Any inconvenience is regretted,” the tweet said.
Journalists called attention to the strange demand, which led to the retraction.
AAP Spokesperson Pankaj Pandit responded to the police notification by telling India Today TV that this is the first time in his 22-year journalism career that he has seen such an absurd demand.
Naresh Chauhan, the principal spokesperson for the Himachal Congress committee, also denounced the administration’s demand and said that it violated press freedom.
In addition to opening an AIIMS campus in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi will speak at a public gathering there. He’ll also take part in the Dussehra festivities in Kullu.