The journalists who are intended to attend the rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh on October 5 must be ready with their character certificates. An official notification that has already sparked severe controversies was issued by the Police on September 29, 2022.
Not only private media, rather the state-owned media organisations like All India Radio and Dooradarshan were also asked to bring ‘character verification’ certificate, India Today has reported.
The notification asks the District Public Relation Officer (DPRO) to supply list of all media correspondents, photographers and videographers with ‘a certificate of their character verification’.
“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,” says the official notification.
Narendra Modi will address a public meeting at Bilaspur along with inaugurating the AIIMS campus. Following his two days’ visit in poll-bound Gujarat, he will here inaugurate several projects amounting to Rs. 3650 crores.
He is also supposed to attend Kullu Dussehra in the poll-bound state. This is going to be first rally of Modi in HP after the last one on September 24 at Mandi was cancelled due to bad weather.
Primary Reactions from Different Quarters
Speaking to the India Today TV, the Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Pankaj Pandit said he never experienced such thing in his long journalistic career.
“Modi ji is not visiting the state for the first time. The demand to produce a character certificate is humiliating and an attempt to curb the media’s activities,” Pandit added.
Naresh Chauhan, the chief spokesperson of the state congress committee also condemned the action.
Efforts to Dodge the Media?
The political observers privy to the development are of the opinion that it is another effort of Modi to curtail the freedom of press. However, a few others think that it is just to avoid any distorted representation of the rally.
Since his elevation to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi just held one press conference. In contrast his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, known as silent PM was much media -friendly. While launching his book ‘Changing India’ in 2018 the former PM said, People say I was a silent prime minister. I think these volumes [his book 'Changing India'] speak for themselves. I wasn't the PM who was afraid of talking to the press. I met press regularly and on every foreign trip I undertook, I had a press conference on return.”