GUWAHATI, Nov 23 – The Journalists’ Union of Assam (JUA) and the Association of Small and Medium Newspapers of India, Assam State Committee, today observed the International Day to End Impunity and insisted that the government ensure the security and welfare of the journalists who have of late been facing more threats while discharging their responsibilities.
This programme was held in response to the call of the International Federation of Journalists to commemorate the killing 32 journalists in Philippines on November 23, 2009 and to voice concern at the exemption from punishment for the perpetrators of crimes including murder of journalists in several countries.
Addressing the function, Chandan Goswami, a faculty of Gauhati University, pointed out that attacks against journalists in Assam have been increasing and said that this alarming development would affect the freedom of the press.
“The job of a journalist is not an easy one. Journalists have to extend their services to the society and nation,” said Goswami, adding that in view of the unrest prevailing here since decades, it has become paramount for journalists to undergo safety training so that they can do conflict reporting without jeopardizing their lives.
On the other hand, Gitartha Pathak, president of JUA, while explaining the significance of the day also stressed for a safety code for the journalists. He pointed out that of the 47 journalists killed in the country since 1992 up to now, 22 belonged to Assam.
“This figure paints the reality of journalism in Assam. Journalists in the State have faced intimidation and many have paid with their lives,” said Pathak asserting that insurance cover for the journalists was a must.
It needs to be mentioned here that the JUA and several other associations of journalists have been raising this issue of insurance cover for the journalists in the backdrop of escalating violence against the scribes.
Pathak said that the government must seriously consider insurance cover for the journalists who have completed a certain period in their field.
General secretary of JUA Bedabrata Lahkar said that murder of a journalist was the ultimate form of censorship and called upon the government to do the needful to secure the life of the journalists.
The JUA on the occasion reiterated its demand to know the status of the inquiry into journalists killed in the State.
The function was presided over by veteran journalist B Goswami.