Attacks on Media Houses & Scribes Pose Threat to Democracy


A discussion on media in the Parliament during the 1950s reveals that elected representatives upheld the Constitution principles and gave due importance to the Fourth Estate, even when it was detrimental to their interests.

An MP belonging to the Janata Dal remarked “You are controlling the media” to which the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru replied: “Curbing the media is not possible in this country. If that happens, then this nation cannot proclaim to be a democracy,” he said.

Nehru stood by the same principle as long as he was the Prime Minister.

Despite owning a media house, Nehru never interfered with the policies followed by the organisation.

Significantly, there were news reports and even editorial pieces published in the same newspaper faulting Nehru’s decisions and policies, during war with neighbouring China.

Cut to 77 years after the incident. Now, it can be said that the media is not enjoying such freedom.

Media is always being fettered by the powers that be posing a threat to the role envisioned by those who framed the Constitution.

The media in Andhra Pradesh, where elections would be held in a couple of months, is facing a grave situation. In fact, the recent developments are raising serious questions over the safety and security of mediapersons in the state.

In Andhra Pradesh, media had been regulated by the ruling parties since 2014. The then ruling party had restricted mediapersons of a specific newspaper from attending government press conferences and meetings.

Now, the ruling party is directly attacking a few media houses. During the last couple of days, the situation has turned more anxious with both the media offices and mediapersons being attacked directly.

The photo-journalist of a newspaper, branded to be anti-ruling party, was thrashed by the ruling party men following which he had to be hospitalised.

Close on the heels of the incident, the followers of an MLA of the Rayalaseema region attacked the office of a media house and pelted stones on it. They even threatened the staff in the office forcing them to stall the work and close the office abruptly. One other journalist of the same media house was also attacked and the scribe narrowly escaped from death. These incidents raise several doubts about survival of democracy.

Time alone can reveal how the situation would evolve in the coming days.