At loggerheads with media in recent days, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh today pushed for a media regulatory body to function as an effective watchdog”.
Singh, who has been under attack for calling newsmen as “presstitutes”, said he is been repeatedly attacked since 2012 by certain “media workers” who not only cooked up stories, but also did enormous harm to the institution that he was heading, the Indian Army under the watch of the UPA government.
Alleging that there was no accountability for their actions, he said they are not only getting away scot free but also keeping up a “steady flow of misinformation”.
“… The government of India, perhaps not wanting to take on these ‘media workers’ who would hide behind the larger umbrella of the ‘National Media’, failed to act,” the former Army Chief said in a statement.
“It is time that the media itself seriously looked at creating an effective watchdog organisation that has the power to actually nip this malice in the bud. Today the media’s own credibility is at stake and unless there is effective internal policing, this problem threatens to go completely out of hand,” he said.
Singh, who is currently in Djibouti to oversee evacuation of Indians from Yemen, had on Tuesday compared the rescue operation from the war-torn country with his visit to the Pakistani mission recently, saying the evacuation was “less exciting”. However, he later made snide remarks against a TV channel for playing up his comparison remarks.
“Friends what do you expect from presstitutes,” he said in a tweet late last night on Tuesday adding that last time the TV anchor thought there was ‘O’ in place of ‘E’.
His remarks elicited sharp reactions from political parties as well as a media body.
Terming media as “one of our great strengths”, he said if it has to be protected from being seen as compromised, then it is vital that all collectively push for a regulatory body.
He said that he had complained to the Home Ministry in 2013 about “planted stories and their immediate sources” and added that he would be happy to forward the complaint that was filed with the MHA to the Broadcaster’s Association, should it publicly commit itself to forming an impartial body with specific time lines. Angry over Singh’s remarks, local journalists under the banner of Journalists’ Association Ghaziabad burnt an effigy of the Minister of State for External Affairs.
In a letter to the Prime Minister which they handed over to the district magistrate, the scribes demanded a public apology from Singh for calling newsmen “presstitutes”.