Paswan backs Katju on media freedom violation

Backing the PCI chairman over his remarks on media freedom in Bihar, LJP chief Ram Bilas Paswan made a scathing attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Updated: Feb 26, 2012, 12:32 PM IST

New Delhi: Backing the PCI chairman over his
remarks on media freedom in Bihar, LJP chief Ram Bilas Paswan
on Sunday made a scathing attack on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
saying those who claim to have fought press censorship during
Emergency are now undermining freedom of the fourth estate.

"We welcome what PCI Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has
said. He has brought the reality of Bihar government before
the people," Paswan said alleging that mediamen are not free
to express their views openly in Nitish Kumar`s regime.

He said that a delegation of Lok Janshakti Party will
also meet President Pratibha Patil shortly over the issue of
"violation of media freedom" in Bihar.

"The Bihar government is obstructing the work of mediamen
who write against it and forces their transfers. Ironically,
it is being done by the same people who claim to have fought
against media censorship during Emergency," the LJP chief

He also criticised Bihar`s deputy Chief Minister Sushil
Kumar Modi for his comments against Katju.

"The deputy CM ridiculed the Chairman of an important
body like the Press Council of India. Such a thing has never
happened in Bihar politics and it is a matter of shame," he

Katju had on Friday targeted the Bihar government,
alleging the media in the state was harassed if it wrote
against it.

"... there was freedom of the press during Lalu`s rule...
but press doesn`t enjoy freedom at present," he had said at a
function in Patna University. "The information I have gathered
about the media in Bihar is not good...whatever is happening
here is not good," he added.

He said that Katju`s observation on the problems being
faced by people in Bihar is an eye-opener.

The LJP chief also demanded action against the principal
of a Patna college who raised objections while Katju was
making his remarks against the Bihar government during an
interaction session at the Senate Hall in Patna University.

Paswan claimed that the principal`s wife was an MLA from
JDU. "Such political persons should not be made principals,"
he said.

Katju had also said that information he had gathered
about the media in Bihar is "not good" and reminded the Nitish
Kumar government that its alleged action against the press was
a violation of the Constitution.

A three-member PCI team would be sent to Bihar soon for an investigation, he had said.

"I have been told that people don`t muster courage to
write against the Bihar government or its officials," Katju
said at a function, adding that any attack by the state
government on the freedom of press was a violation of Section
19 of Constitution.

"The Constitution is being violated by such people and
they don`t want the Constitution to function. You are a
government, but you are not above the Constitution ... you are
below it," he had added.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had declined to comment
on the PCI Chairman`s statement. "I am not required to offer
any comment," Kumar told reporters on Saturday.