New Delhi, June 9 : Former union minister Arun Shourie on Friday urged journalists to boycott ministers in the battle for media freedom following the CBI searches at the houses of NDTV network’s founder Prannoy Roy.
Calling the CBI raids an attempt by the government to exert “overt pressure” on the media, the noted journalist said non-cooperation and boycott of ministers were essential ways to fight for freedom of the press.
Speaking at an event at the Press Club of India here, Shourie said the government was intent on gradually extending its domination on all forums of public life.
He asked journalists not to sit on judgment on each other and resist attempts to divide them.
“They will seek to divide the press,” said the former BJP leader who was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Shourie said it was wrong to assume one could buy peace with the government by publishing articles of ministers or running their interviews on TV.
He recalled that when the Rajiv Gandhi government brought the defamation bill, journalists decided to ask every minister at press conferences whether they supported the legislation. If the answer was ‘yes’ or supportive of the bill, the reporters would walk out.
He said boycotting the ministers and not cooperating with them were ways to fight for freedom of press. “Do not call them to your functions.”
Shourie also urged journalists to redouble work that annoys the government. “News is what the government wants to hide. You should excavate that.”
The CBI this week searched the houses of Prannoy Roy for allegedly causing financial losses to a private bank.
Amid protests by journalists, NDTV said the CBI had “stepped up the concerted harassment of NDTV and its promoters based on the same old endless false accusations” and that the raid was “a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press”.