For the first time, the North Eastern Council (NEC) has barred free press access to its plenary session, which will be held over the weekend and which is to be addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah tomorrow
Using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse, the NEC has limited media access to just 10 handpicked reporters.
What criteria the NEC used in selecting these 10 remains a mystery as important dailies of the state were left out of the list. This discriminatory policy comes at a time when journalists are facing undue harassment and even arrests for critical reports in other parts of the country.
It has come as a surprise as having Shah visit the North East is a rare occasion and one for interaction with the media, as it has been in earlier years on the visit of other dignitaries. Besides the Union Home Minister, all the Chief Ministers of the North East states are also likely to be there.
When asked about the decision to restrict the press in this unprecedented manner, the NEC Secretary, Moses Chalai, said “The auditorium is small and we have to maintain Covid protocols,” but this did not go down well with the excluded journalists.