Journalists attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh on October 5 should be ready with their certificates of character. The notice has now been withdrawn.
On September 29, 2022, the Police issued an official notification that has already generated serious controversy.
Not only private media but also state media organizations like All India Radio and Doordarshan were asked to bring a “character check” certificate.
The police also issued a notice on September 29 instructing the District Public Relations Officer (DPRO) to provide a list of all “Doordarshan Kendra correspondents, photographers, camera crew and AIR along with a certificate verifying their character.”
The certificate of character verification may be supplied to the office of Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID, Bilaspur by October 1, 2022 positively. Their access within the rally or meeting will be decided by this office
“Your access within the rally or meeting will be decided by this office,” the notice said.
However, Himachal Police Director General Sanjay Kundu clarified in a tweet that all journalists are welcome to cover the event and that the state police will “facilitate their coverage.”
Journalist Ismat Ara wrote “In India, the ruling party now decides who can or cannot cover an event of national significance. Journalists asked to produce “character certificate” for covering Prime Minister Modi’s visit to an election bound state, Himachal Pradesh.”
Before DGP Kundu’s clarification, India Today had reported that DPRO Kuldeep Guleria refused to accept journalists’ official identity cards without the certificate of character and even insisted that there be an official stamp on journalists’ digital IDs.
“This formality is mandatory for everyone. The SP and CID departments are requesting character verification certificates,” Guleria was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The irony is that while journalists were asked to present character verification certificates, the thousands of people who will attend the rally will not be required to present any proof of identity.
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