The National Alliance of Journalists and the Delhi Union of Journalists in a joint statement greet all our members and co-workers on the occasion of May Day, when workers first became conscious of their rights and dignity and fought for them. This May Day has a special significance as the country is in the midst of a national election when the freedom of expression and the rights and dignity of independent journalism, the spirit of inquiry and the scientific temper and secular democratic character of India is being threatened as never before.

In this context we welcome the promises made by some political parties in their election manifestos for redressal of the problems of the Media. The Congress Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have devoted sections of their manifestos to Media and both have agreed e.g. to withdraw the dangerous Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 and review the Press and Periodicals Act, 2023, besides reviewing other laws that are meant to censor the Media. Both parties also promise to enact laws to protect journalists from arbitrary arrests and malicious prosecution.

Further, they promise action to curb cross-media ownership monopolies. The CPI (M) and the Communist Party of India hàve promised to restore the Working Journalist Acts with amendments to include all media workers. They have also promised action to stop fake news. The NAJ-DUJ regret that most other parties have not cared to pay even lip service to the cause of independent and free media. On the eve of May Day we protest the threat to our basic labour rights from the four Labour Codes that seek to replace decades of hard won legal rights enshrined in law.

The Codes will replace the two Working Journalists Acts and make hiring and firing easier at a time when unemployment is rife and the livelihood of many journalists is at stake. We demand restoration of the Working Journalists’ Acts, an end to the contract system and a new Wage Board. We also demand special protection from arrests and an end to arbitrary prosecution of journalists. May 1 is particularly important for us as it marks the 75th foundation year of the DUJ, the oldest body of journalists in the capital.

A phased programme to celebrate the anniversary year is to be announced shortly. A meeting of the office functionaries of the NAJ and DUJ has also resolved to observe World Press Freedom Day on May 3 with the call “Save Independent Journalism in India Today”. It has condemned all attempts at spewing hate speech and whipping up communalism in a country that prided itself in its secular democratic character.

Political Parties Urged To Safeguard Media Freedom On 75th foundation Year Of DUJ

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