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UNDER PRESSURE, MCGM CHIEF DR. JAIRAJ PHATAK WITHDRAWS MEDIA GAG

Following much pressure from the media and severe criticism over the gag order he issued to journalists, municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak withdrew the circular. After a meeting with the reporters’ association, MCGM Commissioner Jairaj Phatak took back the circular on the grounds that the association would frame its own guidelines, which journalists would have to follow. Phatak called a meeting with the association members, asking them what was the trouble about and what reporters found objectionable in the circular. “If you issue your own guidelines to reporters, I will withdraw mine,” Phatak told the association members. Last week, Phatak issued a six-point rule to journalists, regarding “discipline” that they have to follow during press briefings. The notice warned reporters, covering BMC issues, that they would be thrown out of the civic headquarters if they did not toe Phatak’s line. According to the rules, a reporter could ask him only one question during a media briefing even if s/he has more than one query. A reporter also would not be allowed to point an accusing finger at officials in the press meet. After handed over the rules, journalists-deeming the guidelines as a hindrance to the freedom of the press-staged a protest outside Phatak’s cabin. Now, after the meeting, the journalists’ association has decided to stick to some of Phatak’s list of dos and don’ts, such as cellphones should be switched off during press meets and only authorized reporters should be present at the briefings. Bureau report – NMTV News.

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