Press freedom threatened in Telangana

In a newly formed Indian state called Telangana, Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, took an action against the media. Security staff of Rao entered the office of Chief Public Relations Officer in the Secretariat on Feb 23, where reporters hang around, and asked them to move out.

This is not the first time reporters were forced to go out. The action shocked journalists present there and they ultimately had to follow the order.

It is believed that some Indian Administrative Service (IAS) complained to Rao that they were finding it difficult to function in the presence of so many reporters wandering in the area. Rao was also not happy with the video cameras placed right outside the entrance of his office.

Immediately after reporters moved out, they protested by sitting on dharna. The public relations officials denied giving any such order to the security personnel.

No one expected such an action from the K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s government. Even his critics expressed shock when they heard on Feb 20 through a leak to some news dailies that Rao was planning to end reporters’ access to secretariat.

After all the criticism, Rao met the representatives of journalist associations and complained that some news dailies were creating obstructions to the growth of Telangana. He also promised welfare measures to them.

Already, two channels TV9 and ABN Andhra Jyothi have been banned in the state for more than eight months. Ban was imposed by Telangana Multi System Operators (MSOs) Association. Rao’s government didn’t intervene to lift the ban.

When Congress was in power, journalists were allowed free movement in the secretariat.

Decision disturbed media because it was only media that was in favour of formation of Telangana state and backed Rao’s party Telangana Rashtra Samiti. Many journalists even disrupted press conferences which opponents held at that time.

Majority of Telugu news channels are now cautious of broadcasting anything that Rao may
not like.

Even news about journalists’ protests has not been aired by many Telugu news channels.

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