Slamming the Baddi superintendent of police for snatching the camera of a photojournalist and subsequently deleting the pictures, members of the Baddi Press Club and the Solan District Journalists Association on Saturday urged the government to initiate stern action against the erring officer for prevention of reoccurrence of such incidents in future.
The members also urged the director general of police to order a departmental probe against the superintendent of police for allegedly misusing his official position to throttle the voice of the media in a democratic set-up.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the ruling Congress condemning the SP's behaviour in full public view said the issue would be taken up with the chief minister.
Party spokesman Ajay Singh Chauhan said officers sitting on responsible posts should realise that the media was the fourth estate of democracy and preventing journalists from discharging their duties was not only a serious issue, but also an open attempt to defeat the very purpose of the Virbhadra Singh government to provide responsive, clean and transparent administration.
Notably, the trouble brewed on Friday evening after some journalists had gone to cover a news item on the complex of the Baddi civic body.
Since the conflict had arisen between a dhaba owner and certain policemen, the superintendent of police had also arrived on the site. As soon as a journalist started clicking the photographs, the Baddi SP reportedly took the camera in his possession and declined to return despite repeated request of the scribe. Later, an assistant sub-inspector was deputed to return the camera in which all photographs concerning the conflict were deleted.
The action of the SP besides causing resentment among the journalistic fraternity also invited criticism from the leaders of various political parties.
President of the Solan district journalist association Bhanu Verma said the government should order a departmental probe against the SP. Besides, appropriate lawful action should also be initiated for misusing official position in full public view.
In an emergent meeting of the Baddi Press Club held under the chairmanship of Balbir Thakur, the members unanimously urged the government to initiate the needed lawful action against the erring officer for acting in irresponsible manner by taking the law in his hand at a public place.
Meanwhile, president of state unit of AITUC Jagdish Bhardwaj and CPI state secretary Shashi Pandit also urged the government to ensure the safety of journalists and initiate departmental action against the superintendent of police. Later, the members brought the issue in the notice of inspector general of police GD Bhargav, who assured them that the issue would be probed.
Denying the charges, Baddi SP S Arul Kumar said since a journalist had allegedly tried to obstruct the police functioning, proceedings under Section 186 IPC were being initiated.