Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, May 17 - “Any threat to journalism or attempts to gag the independent voices is a threat to society. The incidents of attacks on the media must not be seen in isolation, as the entire society and democratic ethos are under threat when free Press is attacked,” said noted writer and social scientist Dr Hiren Gohain while speaking on the topic ‘Attack on media, autocratic attitude of the nation and the role of civil society’, during a discussion organised by Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) on the occasion of the 23rd death anniversary of journalist Parag Kumar Das.
Tributes being paid to Parag Kumar Das on his death anniversary at Rajgarh Road in Guwahati on Friday. – UB Photos
Observing the day as Swahid Diwas, MASS organised a tribute programme and the discussion, in which a number of distinguished persons took part.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Gohain said when tyrannical forces come to power, the Press is the first victim. “Direct and indirect pressure techniques like intimidation, IT raids, stopping government advertisements, etc., are some of the tools to attack free media. It was prevalent during the time of Congress rule, but now it is more vigorously organised,” he said.
Senior journalist Ajit Bhuyan said the attack on media has now become a worldwide phenomenon and during the year 2018, 94 journalists were killed in different parts of the world.
“At a time when so-called big media houses are involved in a cut-throat competition to be in the good books of the ruling parties, regional media is still holding its ground and working in favour of the communities it serves,” Bhuyan added.
He further mentioned that with changing times, the pattern of threat has now shifted from individual journalists to killing the noble profession of journalism through money and muscle power.
Senior advocate Arup Borbora said the situation now is worse than the emergency declared during the rule of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “Demolition of the democratic institutions is a greater threat to the democracy,” he mentioned.
Senior journalist Partha Pratim Hazarika, while speaking on the occasion, said media always faced the threat of some sorts, but from 2014, there is a constant attempt to undermine the status of traditional media like the newspaper. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not addressed a single press meet. But his twitter handle is very active as it gets him instant feedback,” he said, adding that in the present context, social media can do more harm than good. “Even the ruling party’s president has acknowledged that social media’s capacity of spreading misinformation cannot be negated,” he mentioned.
The discussion also included issues like the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, rationalists Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Narendra Davolkar, the attacks on democratic institutions and statistical data fudging to hide the actual picture from the public.