NEW DELHI: Remembering one of their own who died a sordid and tragic death at a young age, the Capital’s media fraternity poured in at the Press Club of India here on Saturday to launch a campaign for journalist Soumya Viswanathan who was shot dead in the wee hours this past Tuesday.
The employees of television channel Headlines Today, where 25-year-old Soumya was working as a news producer, along with the Press Club launched the “Justice for Soumya” campaign.
Friends, colleagues and former classmates came together to offer their tributes to the journalist who was found dead in her car on Nelson Mandela Marg, barely 10 minutes away from her C-9 Vasant Kunj residence.
Remembering her as the finest young producer in the group, Headlines Today editor Rahul Kanwal said it was difficult to speak about Soumya in the past tense.
“After the news of her death, our newsroom has not been the same. It has been sombre and grim. She was young, diligent and talented. For her seniors, she was a pillar of strength and for those who have just started out, she was an icon. For us, it is not just a story. She was a family member. We are launching this crusade for Soumya both on air and off air to bring the culprits to book,” he said.
Senior journalist Jyoti Malhotra said it was important to remember that Soumya died in the line of duty. Offering “our deepest sympathy and condolences for her family”, she said Soumya’s murder was a wake-up call for all those women who work.”
Ms. Malhotra told the gathering that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit -- who drew flak after her “adventurous” comment -- had called her up this morning saying she was deeply upset at Soumya’s murder and that her remark was “misconstrued”.
Radhika Khanna, a teacher from Kamla Nehru College, where Soumya pursued her Bachelor’s in Journalism for three years, expressed her grief on behalf of the institution.
“Her sordid death is a stark reminder of the times we live in. At our college, we teach young girls studying Journalism to be honest and fearless and as I gather from her friends and colleagues, Soumya was one such person. We are shocked by her sad demise,” she said.
A resident of Vasant Kunj underlined the need for more police security on lonely stretches like Nelson Mandela Road.
“My daughter returns home late. As a mother, I am always concerned and anxious till the time she reaches home safely,” she added.
Indian Women’s Press Corps general secretary T. K. Rajalakshmi said the onus of ensuring the security of women employees should not just be on the State and the police but should be shared by the organisations themselves.
“Policing is not the only solution. It is imperative to have compulsory drop back for women employees even if they have their own cars,” she said.
A signature campaign was initiated that will be handed over to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil.