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Life’s No Beach For The Media

Not a charmed life for journos in Goa. If angry politicians and the cyber police don’t get you, rival newspapers will.

Journalists in Goa

Life isn’t all sunny in Goa, at least not for the media. There’ve been two back-to-back incidents in which the media got the short end of the stick just this week. And nobody’s bothered reporting about it, it seems.

First off, was an incident with the Bharatiya Janata Party who is a year into power, and its cadre is already starting to display muscle power. And the party top brass doesn’t seem to care much.

A television journalist and his cameraman were abused, threatened and roughed up by a driver attached to the state BJP headquarters. Oddly, the local cable news channel, whom the duo work for, appears not to care much either.

On the afternoon of Monday, March 11, Harish Volvoikar and Basu Raj, reporter and cameraperson respectively with Goa 365, were heading for a press conference called by the BJP minister for tribal affairs Ramesh Tawadkar. On their way, they saw state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar’s car, a green Toyota Innova GA-07-C-2444 double parked on the busy road just below the party office in Panaji.

When we spoke to Harish, he said, “We got down to film the wrongly parked car, when Krishna Parab came in another car and started abusing us, threatening us not to film the wrongly parked car”.

Tensions escalated after Parab, grabbed Harish’s collar, even as other journalists arriving for the press conference looked on.

Harish also added that, “He said things like we had taken money to film the BJP president’s car improperly parked and threatened to hit us because he was a BJP worker. ‘We are ruling now’”.

BJP president Vinay Tendulkar when contacted on Tuesday said that Parab was party general secretary Govind Parvatkar’s driver and that he had nothing to do with him.

Parvatkar however said that Parab was formally attached to the BJP office in Panaji and was a general pool driver, whose services were utilised by all BJP officials, not him alone.

“In fact, after the incident, I made Parab apologise to the journalists for his error. There is no way he should have behaved in the manner he did”, Parvatkar said.

Suhan Karkal, top functionary of Goa 365, the cable news channel which employs Harish and Basu Raj acknowledged that the incident had occurred, but insisted that it had nothing to do with the channel itself.  “The office had nothing to do with it. What I was told was that they had patched up”, Karkal said, also adding that both were on duty at the time of the incident.

The incident comes a few days after the BJP completed its one year anniversary of being in power on March 9, 2013. It was a day on which most media platforms were bathed in advertisements, a fact which was criticised by the Opposition, calling the expenditure superfluous. That no newspaper, nor cable news channel, save one, ran the story perhaps comes as no surprise.

Two FIRs booked as Goa journalists engage in facebook wars

And it seems there’s no respite for Goa journalists on land or in the virtual world. Bad enough that you get roughed up while photographing people breaching the law. Now you can’t even escape the long arm of the cyber police.

A photo allegedly uploaded by a journalist on facebook has led to two police complaints being filed against the journalist who works for a leading vernacular newspaper.

Both the editor and the chief reporter of the Goa edition of Dainik Lokmat, (a newspaper chain run by Congress MP Vijay Darda) has last week filed a first information report (FIR) against Vithal Sukadkar, a reporter with Dainik Gomantak (Goa’s oldest Marathi newspaper), accusing Sukadkar of uploading “distorted” photos on facebook.

The “distorted” uploaded photo shows Raju Nayak, Lokmat’s editor hoisting his chief reporter Sushant on his back at a party.

When contacted, Sushant told us that uploading such a photograph amounted to harassment.

“It is complete harassment. These photos are distorted. It is most improper to upload these photos on a social networking site. Therefore I have filed an FIR”, Sushant said. While Raju has filed a complaint against Vithal and others at the Panaji police station, Sushant has filed a similar complaint at a police station in Margao, 35 kms from the capital.

When contacted the accused Vithal claimed that all he did was comment on the photos and that they were not uploaded by him.

The charges are almost symptomatic of the rivalry shared between the two newspapers. Dainik Gomantak, a battle-scarred veteran in the Goa market has been battling the relatively new entrant Lokmat, which has with a Rs 1 introductory price played havoc with the circulation charts for other vernacular newspapers.

A senior official said that both complaints had been filed under section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

Contact Mayabhushan

 

Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/findsiddiqui/5020327436/]

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