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Accreditation of fake journalists, a security risks in Parliament!

Rampant involvement of journalists, across diverse media profession, in nasty game of business and statecraft put them in public glare. Journalistic clout, personal connections with persons in powerful political, bureaucratic and corporate positions make media persons very resourceful, tempting the interested groups in trade, commerce, industry, political class, government, security setup to tap them for intelligence, lobbying for various benefits on quid pro quo basis and other favours. This also puts media persons under cloud for their coloured reporting of news, its analysis and interpretations, thus denying the people their inherent right to correct and fair information. There are always exceptions that help maintain the nobility of journalistic profession. That is why accreditation of media persons to both the Houses of Parliament assumes importance as it provides unhindered proximity of media personnel to movers and shakers of power that be.
However, a glance of the conduct of media persons in Parliament denotes how journalist mafia have overtaken Parliament of India. There are several instances when such media persons have been caught and let off because of systematic collusive culture. A large number of accredited media persons for reporting the proceedings of both Houses, and those with entry passes to Lobby and Central Hall for gossip based political stories are bogus with their doubtful professional credentials. Majority of such journalists are fake representing innocuous and defunct news bodies. In fact, they are agents of MNCs, large business houses and other national and international interests, wheeling, dealing, setting, lobbying, liaisoining, spying for such interests through their clout with authorities in the government of the day. Simultaneously, there is no mechanism or expertise in the public relations wings of the Houses of Parliament Secretariat to sift the genuine from the fake media persons.

Genuineness of media persons can be gauged from their negligible or nil presence in the press galleries of Houses of Parliament, except during the Zero Hour and partly in the Question Hour, mostly to watch excitements and thrills of the proceedings. Thereafter, press galleries are virtually empty with only presence of agencies and official media. Apart from this, even journalists, long time retired for over a decade to more than two decades, are being maintained as accredited journalists on their old addresses. Nurturing of fake and nonworking retired journalists is order of the day with connivance of incompetent and corrupt elements in public relations wings of Secretariats of Parliament.

There are instances of a majority of journalists using their permanent press cards as a cover for working as agents of the corporate houses and other vested interests. They visit Central Hall daily even when Parliament is not in session. Mostly such journalists are non-functional retired ones, who hardly report even gossip based political and other stories. This calls for restricting regular press cards to functional media persons during the sessions only and not for inter-sessions as in state legislatures. In addition, such journalists manage to get permanent passes for their unrestricted access to power and pelf, showing how the corporate have captured the media.

There are about 600 journalists accredited to each of the Houses of Parliament, majority of them being under cover lobbyists and pimps. There have been several instances when they were caught and let off, with little space to describe here. Accreditation Committee (Media Advisory Committee) comprising mostly fake journalists approve names of media persons to be accredited, for which public relations wings use corrupt means to grant accreditation, with no built-in system of filtering their professional credentials, security and antecedent clearances.

It is time the Union Ministry of Home Affairs intervened to secure the temple of Indian democracy to rope in Press Information Bureau, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police to ensure, like in the Government, only genuine journalists are granted accreditation to Parliament, within the frame of autonomy of legislature, to safeguard internal security of Parliament. The nation is undergoing a difficult time when all sorts of unscrupulous elements like insurgency, militancy, terrorism, subversion and rebel-rousing are on the rise. In the Government, the mechanism of verification of professional credentials of media persons, before accreditation is granted, is almost fool-proof. Some such system needs to be made operational in Parliament before it is too late!

-M.Y.Siddiqui

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