HPCC Chief threatened to break cameras of TV reporters

Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Markandey Katju has slammed the rising intolerance of politicians toward a critical media and pointed to Congress leader Virbhadra Singh’s “ugly display of temper” as the latest example.

Asked about corruption allegations, the Himachal Pradesh Congress chief on Tuesday threatened to break the cameras of television reporters, sparking criticism both from the media and politicians, including those from his own party.

“Intolerant behaviour by politicians has no place in a democracy,” said Mr. Katju in a statement on Wednesday. “If something untrue is published about a politician, he has certainly a right to get his rejoinder published, but losing one’s balance or giving an ugly display of temper is just not acceptable in a democracy.”

The PCI chief also pointed to other politicians’ display of “undemocratic behaviour” in the recent past. “There was a statement of a Chief Minister of a certain State that a section of the media is doing dadagiri and spreading negative canards about the State government,” he said, in an apparent reference to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “In some States, some political workers [evidently at the orders of their leaders] had physically assaulted media people and even vandalised the office of a leading newspaper in Mumbai.”

Mr. Katju backed the media’s right to ask hard questions. “Politicians must realise that in a democracy people have a right to criticise them, and the media has a right to enquire about the activities of politicians and inform the public about it,” said the statement. “In a democracy, it is the people who are supreme, and politicians are only servants of the people.”

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