The Bihar government has moved to cancel press accreditation of hundreds of newsmen in the state and bring in a new system for granting the same, in a move seen as a fallout of the horrifying Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes.
According to sources, the state government has almost finalised the list of accredited journalists whose names are to be struck off. The number runs into hundreds, they claim. "Many of them work in dubious news organisations. Therefore, the state government would ask the press accreditation committee, which consists of journalists from leading newspapers, television channels and news agencies, to cancel such accreditations. The committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday evening," said a source at Bihar government's Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD). The state has almost 600 accredited journalists from the IPRD.
Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the sexual exploitation of 34 minor girls at a shelter home run by his NGO in Muzaffarpur, was an accredited journalist of PIB under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Bihar government's Information and IPRD. Thakur's newspaper also received advertisements worth Rs 3 million from the department even though the number of copies he printed was much lower than he claimed.
The IPRD cancelled his press accreditation card after an FIR was lodged against him on June 3, while the PIB struck off his name from its list of journalists on July 31.
However, questions were raised about the way Thakur managed to secure accreditation cards for himself and his son, apart from getting huge advertisements from the state government. According to the IRPD officials, the accreditation cards and advertisements are issued by the state on the basis of circulation figures issued by the Central government's Directorate of Audio Visual Promotion (DAVP). DAVP records show that Thakur's newspaper, Pratah Kamal, has a circulation of more than 60,000 copies.