HYDERABAD: The public hearing held by the fact finding committee of Press Council of India (PCI) on Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao's reported comments on media, saw media representatives present a divided response here on Tuesday.
While the committee was mandated to find the fact whether the chief minister made the statement attributed to him that he would break the necks and bury underground media persons, when he addressed a public meeting in Warangal earlier this month, the public hearing veered off to the issue of the ban imposed on two local Telugu TV channels, as their representatives broached it.
As representatives of the channels made their case, the panel members said since the PCI had no mandate on the visual media the public hearing must be restricted to find whether there was any threat perception to the print media in Telangana and its free functioning.
In response, many journalists, mostly from TV channels, said they too faced a latent threat perception. A TV reporter even said, "Some goons threatened us when we were on a silent protest on the Tank Bund three days ago. They warned us of dire consequences if we don't call off the protest."
However, the journalists from Telangana argued that it was the Seemandhra lobby to be blamed for suppressing the freedom of press as several media houses were in favour of the united Andhra Pradesh during the Telangana movement. Both the sides of the journalist gave representations to the committee seeking PCI's support for their respective cases. When a panel member asked, what he would have done if he was in the place of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, senior journalist Tankasala Ashok said, "I would have said, as the chief minister, enough is enough and let us put an end to this controversy." And he said the chief minister's outburst must not be taken in a literal sense.
While senior journalist Srinivas Reddy suggested that chief minister KCR should come clean in the public and apologize for his remarks and put an end to the controversy once for all.
The committee will meet Telangana chief secretary Rajiv Sharma on Wednesday and hold a public hearing in Warangal where KCR made the alleged statement.
The three-member committee appointed by the PCI chairman Markandey Katju was even put on the defensive when a Telangana journalist questioned its sanctity as he pointed out that one of the members of the committee K Amarnath, was from Seemandhra. Krishna Prasad was another member of the committee led by Rajeev Ranjan.