Photojournalists associated with the New Indian Express and the Print were allegedly barred from attending a joint press conference by Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann in Delhi on Friday. The press conference was intended to discuss the worsening air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas.
Santwana Bhattacharya, editor of the New Indian Express, tweeted that the newspaper’s photojournalists were “disallowed” from the press conference, as were photojournalists from Morning Standard, a Delhi daily published by the same group.
#AAP goes down censorship route.— santwanabhattacharya (@santwana99) November 4, 2022
Photojournalists from @NewIndianXpress / @TheMornStandard disallowed from Kejriwal-Bhagwat Mann presser.
Why throw out photogs, @ArvindKejriwal @BhagwantMann @AAPDelhi ?
Is the extra hospitality bcoz of our Liquorgate and Hawalagate reports?
Her tweets asked whether it was because of her publication’s coverage of “Hawalagate” and “Liquorgate”. refers to a Gujarat police investigation claiming the AAP sent “hawala money” to Gujarat; the second to the controversies surrounding the AAP’s .
Bhattarcharya told Newslaundry the photojournalists were not told why they were “disallowed”.
“No reason was given. My comment is there in the tweet,” she said. “If it is for the stories we've done with absolute due diligence, why should photojournalists face the flak or be censored trying to do their job? This is not acceptable, runs contrary to the basic media freedoms. We were not intruding on anyone's private property.”
The Print’s photojournalist Suraj Bisht told Newslaundry he wasn’t permitted to attend. “When I went to the gate, the security personnel asked for my ID card,” he said. “They took the card inside. When they came back, they said that I couldn’t go in.” Bisht said the security personnel took his ID card to a member of the AAP’s media team.
Praveen Jain, the news website’s national photo editor, said, “What do we have to do with politics? It's our job to just take a photo. It’s very wrong not to allow entry into the press conference. When you have called the media, then you should let them in.”
Meanwhile, Kejriwal at the press conference said air pollution isn’t just Delhi’s problem but “entire Northern India’s problem”.
“The centre has to come forward and take specific steps so that the entire North India can be relieved from pollution,” he said. “Air pollution is a North India problem. AAP, the Delhi government or the Punjab government are not solely responsible. Now is not the time for the blame game.”
Delhi’s air quality plunged into the “severe” category today as the air quality index stood at 472 in the morning. The AQI in some of the national capital regions was worse, with Noida and Gurugram recording 562 and 593, respectively.
But what can be done to fix Delhi’s AQI? on why the AAP and central government need long-term solutions, not stopgap measures.
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.