The Foundation for Media Professionals deplores the manner in which pressure has apparently been brought on the management of ABP News by an influential section of the ruling establishment to do away with the services of Punya Prasun Bajpai, Milind Khandekar and Abhisar Sharma and also for disrupting the broadcast of the channel during prime time.
It seems that the only “fault” of the three journalists was to disseminate information that critically examined the government’s claims about the efficacy of some of its welfare programmes. The Foundation, on the contrary, holds that Bajpai’s expose, for instance, of certain false claims about the impact of welfare programmes in Chhattisgarh is a much-needed demonstration of watchdog journalism.
The vindictive manner in which Bajpai, Khandekar and Sharma have been treated is clearly aimed at having a ‘chilling effect’ on other journalists who dare to be critical of the current government in general and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular. The management of ABP News did not cover itself with glory by its actions.
The Foundation also calls upon the government to respond to Bajpai’s allegation that it has a big team under a senior bureaucrat at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to monitor the media coverage and that, on the basis of its inputs, the Prime Minister’s Office has been issuing covert instructions to media houses. Such alleged interference, in whatever form, smacks of the notorious Emergency-era censorship, which proved to be counter-productive in all respects.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President, FMP
Manoj Mitta, Director, FMP