When Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is keen to implement a series of sustained welfare schemes for media persons, surprisingly, some senior journalists have been denied accreditation cards by the state government.
The Assam State Press Accreditation Committee on September 20 cleared the names of journalists for accreditation, and Chief Minister Sonowal on September 26 distributed the cards at an official function at the Assam Administrative Staff College.
Sonowal gave a patient hearing to the problems of the working journalists in the state and promised to implement a series of welfare programme, including housing, healthcare and education of children.
When the CM is so sincere to resolve the problems of the working journalists, the then Director of the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR), Rajib Prakash Baruah, did not even bother to ensure that every genuine working journalists in Assam are issued accreditation cards.
Utpal Parashar, a Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times has not been given accreditation, while he has been in the profession for more than two decades. Before shifting to Guwahati, Parashar was HT’s Foreign Correspondent in Nepal, and is a well known journalist across South Asia. He was also a member of the Accreditation Committee in Uttarakhand.
Parashar’s colleague in Hindustan Times, Sadiq Naqvi, a Special Correspondent in Guwahati, has also not been issued accreditation card by the Assam government. Similarly, Rajib Prakash Baruah has also committed a blunder by denying accreditation cards to two senior journalists of the two news agencies of India – Press Trust of India (PTI) and the United News of India (UNI).
Accreditation cards were denied to Abhijit Deb, the News Coordinator (Northeast) of UNI, and to Durba Ghosh, a Special Correspondent with the PTI. The Assam government denied accreditation card to Abhijit Deb even after he submitted the documents that he holds accreditation card issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
It is still not clear as to why accreditation card was denied to Durba Ghosh as she has been working in Assam for a long time, and is also wife of a senior IAS officer, Sanjib Gohain Baruah.
Though the Assam government did not make any official statement on the issue of denying accreditation to the senior journalists, the Rajib Prakash Baruah managed to get a contractual job as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) on September 28, just two days prior to his retirement as an ACS officer.
Surprisingly, the Assam government is still clinging on to the archaic Assam Press Correspondents (Accreditation/ Recognition) Rules, 1989, and officials like Rajib Prakash Baruah wasted almost ten months of his tenure as the Director of DIPR, and not amending the rules.
Will the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal pull up Rajib Prakash Baruah for denying accreditation to the senior journalists?