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Suspension Of Punjab Journalists' Social Media Accounts Undermines Press Freedom, Says Editors Guild

Several accounts of pro-Khalistani leaders were also blocked in India following protests over the police's action against Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh

Press freedom in India
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The Editors Guild of India expressed concern over the 'arbitrary suspension' of social media accounts of several journalists and media organisations in Punjab last month during the police crackdown on Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh

In a statement, they noted that the official Twitter account of BBC Hindi was withheld on March 27, though it was restored later in the day. "Similarly, social media accounts of a senior staffer at Indian Express as well as some other prominent journalists were also suspended," they said adding that no due processes were followed during the suspensions and that they were carried out against the principles of natural justice. 

“Notwithstanding the fact that some of the accounts were later restored, or for that matter that many of the accounts suspended may not have been that of journalists or those associated with news organisations, the Guild is concerned that under the pretext of maintaining security, the state government’s arbitrary actions undermine press freedom," the body said.

They further urged the state and central governments to act with restraint in all such cases, and to adhere to processes laid down by the Supreme Court.

“Currently, the widespread action against journalists and the larger media fraternity has created an atmosphere of fear in Punjab that is not conducive to free and fair journalism,” they said. “We also urge MeitY [Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology] to release all the orders of suspension in the public domain, in the interest of transparency and the spirit of the law,” they added.

Several accounts of pro-Khalistani leaders were also blocked in India following protests over the police's action against Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh. Accounts including that of Canada's New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, Canadian poet Rupi Kaur, the voluntary organisation United Sikhs, and Canada-based activist Gurdeep Singh Sahota have been blocked.

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