HYDERABAD: Journalists stayed away from the press gallery during the whole of the Question Hour in the Legislative Assembly protesting the arrest of two reporters in Kurnool district.
The Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India members brought to the notice of Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy the absence of journalists from the press gallery. They wanted the Government to unconditionally withdraw cases against the two arrested journalists who had highlighted the loopholes in Indiramma housing programme.
An assurance by the Chair that the Government would make a statement did not pacify the members. As the Opposition members continued to insist that the Government should not harass journalists and withdraw the cases, the Speaker adjourned the House for 20 minutes. He said he had convened a meeting of the Assembly Media Advisory Committee to discuss the matter.
At separate meetings with representatives of the A. P. Union of Working Journalists and members of the Media Advisory Committee in his chambers later, Mr. Suresh Reddy expressed anguish over Monday’s sit-in by journalists in the Assembly premises since the Legislature was not directly involved in the stand-off between the Government and the journalists. After the House adjourned, Opposition parties faulted the Home Minister Jana Reddy’s statement.
BJP member G. Kishan Reddy said it was misleading and portrayed journalists in bad light.
CPI (M) floor leader Nomula Narasimhaiah questioned why the Government did not initiate action against the village secretary, who gave blank signed papers to the said journalists. CPI leader Chada Venkat Reddy said the action was an attack on freedom of press.