Social activist Anna Hazare has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the growing attacks on journalists and enact a stringent law to protect them.

In a letter to Dr. Singh, Mr. Hazare said: “Growing attacks on journalists, who are the fourth pillar of democracy, are a serious threat to India's democratic structure. Stringent laws will need to be enacted as soon as possible to curb such heinous attacks.”

Mr. Hazare's request comes a week after Mumbai journalist J. Dey was murdered in Mumbai.

Union Agriculture Minster Sharad Pawar also supported the call for a separate law for protecting journalists. However, he had a word of caution. Speaking to journalists in Pune on Saturday, he said: “The draft of the Bill should be created with the utmost care. Genuine journalists should get protection, but it should not be misused.”

On the probe into Dey's murder, Mr. Pawar said: “The media should wait before pushing the government for details on the case. As former Home Minister, I know that the process can be long. If every detail is shared with the media, it can be a barrier in the investigation.”

On the Lokpal Bill, Mr. Pawar said: “I have not been involved in the process. But I do think that all parties should be taken into consideration. Everyone is in favour of a strong Lokpal.” However, “I keep myself away from Annas and Babas.”

To a question on the recent coming together of the Republican Party of India and the BJP and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Mr. Pawar said, “This will definitely benefit the parties involved. But the common man's experience of the alliance will decide the future of the Ambedkarite movement.”

“We have nothing to offer [Gopinath] Munde,” Mr. Pawar said, rubbishing speculation that the senior BJP leader was invited to join the Nationalist Congress Party. Amidst rumours of his being upset at not being involved in the BJP's decision making, Mr. Munde recently met NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal.