Speaker withdraws remarks, media ends boycott of proceedings

Speaker withdraws remarks, media ends boycott of proceedings

29 February 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone today withdrew his remarks pertaining to media made in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, which had prompted three days continued boycott of two Houses of Legislature by the journalists. The media announced end of the boycott after the statement of the Speaker, made both inside and outside the House, and resumed coverage of proceedings of the Legislature. After over three hour long protests for third consecutive day today, the media persons got a message in the Press Club from Mr Lone that he was ready to take back his remarks in presence of the journalists when they take their seats in the press gallery. Entire press, which had been protesting against Mr Lone’s remarks that media was under his control and they have to disclose sources of their story, accepted the Speaker’s offer. ‘‘While welcoming media persons in the press gallery, I would like to tell them that what I said is confined to the House and the galleries only as is provided in the rules. I never meant to hurt them at all and feel that some misunderstanding has cropped up due to communication gap in the mind of media persons, which I think now has no scope at all’’, the Speaker said. He added 'due to some communication gap, I spoke some words like control over media, which I shouldn’t have. I regret if you were hurt by the remarks. Had the matter been brought to my notice at the same time, may be I had amended my statement immediately and the media boycott of proceedings of the two Houses could have been avoided’’. An emotional Speaker said he was deeply hurt by his remarks followed by media boycott of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s reply to both Houses of Legislature on Motion of Thanks to Governor’s Address. ‘‘Though the Chief Minister’s speech was not covered, still Omar didn’t say that he was blacked out due to me’’, he said, adding that there should be no conflict between media and the Speaker or any other institution in future. ‘‘I welcome you and request you to cover proceedings of the House’’, Mr Lone said assuring all facilities to the media in the Assembly gallery. Observing that media trial has, no doubt, its own importance in the system, he added that it should be based on mutual respect. ‘‘In case, there is any doubt in the minds of media persons while publishing any news item, they can, by all means, approach the concerned quarters to receive their version as well or get it rectified-corrected by my Secretariat’’, he asserted. He appealed to the media not to publish proceedings of the House in a distorted manner or misrepresent them. ‘‘I will also appeal the members to behave responsibly to ensure credibility of the Institution at all costs as the House is supreme for all the pillars of the system and has to be respected in the same spirit’’, Mr Lone said. He said the media persons should feel more concerned that Leader of the House (Chief Minister Omar Abdullah) had all along been telling him to control himself while dealing with opposition and media. ‘‘Even the House members like Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, MY Tarigami and Harshdev Singh have been telling me to maintain good relations with press’’, he added. Later talking to the Excelsior exclusively, Mr Lone hoped that the budget session would be smooth from now onwards with the co-operation of opposition and media. ‘‘I am confident that now entire opposition will behave properly and co-operate the Presiding Officer in running the House smoothly’’, he said, adding he expected from the treasury benches also that they would behave decently and give full information sought by the members of any party. He didn’t anticipate a stormy session ahead saying the opposition would cooperate with him now to run the House smoothly so that issues of the people were debated, discussed and resolved. Mr Lone said he had all along been of the opinion that the House should run smoothly and in co-ordial atmosphere. ‘‘However, on some occasions, the entire opposition while trying to raise their issues, disturbed the House proceedings. All of them get up together and agitated the matter in one voice, which often created the confusion inside the House and it becomes difficult to listen what they are speaking or not’’, he added. The Speaker said every time the opposition expected his ruling in their favour, which was not possible under Rules. Instead, he added, the opposition should raise the issue one by one as people expected that their representatives will raise and discuss the issues pertaining to their areas. Earlier in the morning, the media persons gathered outside the Central Hall of Legislature in large number and continued boycott of proceedings of both Legislative Assembly and Council for third consecutive day today. CM’s Political Advisor Devender Rana met the media persons and assured them of an early solution to their demands. Mr Rana made hectic efforts and finally the solution matured with the Speaker deciding to withdraw his remarks on the media persons on floor of the House. The Speaker thanked the legislators, who made efforts to end the media boycott of proceedings of both Houses of the Legislature. After their protest outside the Central Hall of Legislature, the media persons held a meeting at Press Club, Jammu to chalk out their future course of action. It was during the meeting that they got the message that the Speaker was ready to retract his remarks. After the Speaker’s statement, which satisfied the media persons, the journalists announced end of the boycott of Legislature Proceedings. During the protests at stairs outside the Central Hall of Legislature, PDP MLC Murtaza Khan, Congress MLC Bashir Ahmed Magray and Legislative Council Secretary Mohammad Ashraf came to the journalists and demanded that since their issue pertained to the Assembly, they should end the boycott of Legislative Council. Independent MLA Er. Rashid also met the protesting journalists twice conveying them the messages of the Speaker. BJP MLAs Jugal Kishore and Ashok Khajuria also visited the journalists and announced that they had walked out in the Assembly and boycotted proceedings of the House for the day. All four BJP MLAs including Mr Kishore, Mr Khajuria, Sham Choudhary and Sukhnandan Choudhary staged a dharna in the Civil Secretariat near the venue of protest of the journalists. The PDP for the second consecutive day expressed solidarity with the media.