New Delhi: All journalists have been asked to produce a character certificate for access and security passes to cover Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day-long programme in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, India Today reported.
The district administration in a controversial order has asked not only the privately-owned print, digital and news television journalists, but also representatives of the state-run media, including the All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan to bring certificates of “character verification”.
An official notification was also issued by the police on September 29, 2022 on the issue.
The notification asked the District Public Relations Officer (DPRO) to supply a list of all press correspondents, photographers, videographers, and teams of Doordarshan and AIR along 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,” the notification said.
Reacting to the police notification, AAP Spokesperson Pankaj Pandit said that in his 22 years of career in journalism, he is witnessing such a bizarre demand for the first time now.
“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,” India Today quoted Pandit as saying.
The chief spokesperson of the Himachal Congress committee, Naresh Chauhan, also condemned the administration’s demand and said the move was against the freedom of the media.
The DPRO Bilaspur has reportedly refused to accept the official identity cards to issue security passes, saying that the character certificate was mandatory.
He even demanded an official stamp on the digital ID cards of journalists.
PM Modi will address a public meeting in Himachal’s Bilaspur, besides inaugurating a campus of the AIIMS. He will also participate in the Kullu Dussehra celebrations.