Chief secretary issues letter barring scribes from secretariat entry
“The past incidents in which certain matters appeared in the media before the Cabinet meet are objectionable. It should be ensured that nothing goes in the media,” the letter marked to additional secretaries, secretaries, principal secretaries and in-charge secretaries, reads.Updated: Jan 04, 2018 21:04 IST
DEHRADUN: In what could be termed as an attempt by the government to censor the media, a ‘confidential’ letter that mentions barring entry of journalists in the Uttarakhand state secretariat has come out in the public domain.
The letter issued by chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh on December 27, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, expressed concern that some of the subjects supposed to be discussed in the Cabinet meetings appear in advance in a section of the media.
“The past incidents in which certain matters appeared in the media before the Cabinet meet are objectionable. It should be ensured that nothing goes in the media,” the missive marked to additional secretaries, secretaries, principal secretaries and in-charge secretaries, reads.
The letter further instructs that other than ‘senior officials’ the entry of the journalists should be banned in various departmental sections. It states that outsiders cannot directly make an entry into government offices at the state secretariat. In case of an urgency, they can meet the employee or official concerned at the reception, it says.
On Thursday, Singh evaded media queries regarding the contents of the letter. But he told mediapersons that the state government’s publicity wing would put up a system to ensure that journalists were briefed daily about the day’s developments.
“Our effort is to give you authentic information based on facts. That is why we are putting in place a system where only verified information is shared with you by officials authorised for the purpose on a regular basis,” he said. “It is not an attempt to withhold information from the media or to reduce systemic transparency.”
In fact, the Trivendra Singh Rawat-led BJP government is said to be ‘uncomfortable’ about the information leaks by various sources to the media. Last year, a letter from Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari to chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat raising his objection on the recommendation of a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the National Highway-74 widening project appeared in the media. The letter came as a big embarrassment for the Uttarakhand government.
Recently, a Cabinet decision on waiving off penalty on water bills appeared in advance in a section of the media.
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party state president Ajay Bhatt said he was unaware about the official communication regarding restricted entry of the media at the secretariat.. Bhatt assured the media that he would inquire about the matter.