Indian Journalists Union President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General Sabina Inderjit have been re-elected unopposed during the 10th Plenary in Raipur, Chattisgarh. The IJU is the largest journalist union in the country and is spread across various states. In his opening remarks, Pathak highlighted that journalists, media, and journalism itself have not faced such a formidable challenge as they are experiencing in the last eight years.
He stressed that the IJU is relentlessly fighting for the rights of journalists, freedom of media, better working conditions for media persons, and freedom of speech for all citizens of the country. He also called for unity among journalists in the country to promote free press and expressed concern over divisive trends in journalists' unions.
Sabina Inderjit, who is also the vice president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), expressed her concern over the growing attacks on journalists. She highlighted how the pandemic was used by governments at the central and state levels to silence independent reporting. Sabina also expressed her concerns about the recent Digital Media Act, which has been challenged in courts, and how it is impacting social media. She called for journalists to fight against the dangerous trend and change their outlook as unions to meet new challenges.
Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bupesh Baghel inaugurated the two-day national level plenary meeting and announced that his cabinet has approved the draft bill on the law prohibiting attacks on journalists (Journalists Protection Act). He urged the four pillars of democracy to complement each other to strengthen democracy and emphasized that any imbalance among the pillars, especially the media, could have an adverse impact on society.
Around 200 participants from thirteen states attended the plenary meeting, including Amar Sangno, President of the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, IJU NEC member Taya Bagang, and senior journalist Mukul Pathak. Pathak also spoke about how media or journalism being a vital pillar of democracy needs more support from respective state governments and administrations. He added that since journalism is a profession with many risks to their life and health, the government and the media employers should work out for compulsory insurance for all journalists.
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