Condemning brutal attacks on the journalists across the country, Punjab Local Government and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday announced Rs. 10 Lakh to Indian Journalists Union (IJU) for the welfare of working journalists.On behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Sidhu was addressing the inaugural session of 9th Plenary Session of the IJU. More than 300 working journalists from across the country have reached the holy city to attend the Plenary, hosted by Amritsar chapter of Punjab and Chandigarh Journalists Union (PCJU), an affiliate of IJU, at auditorium of Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan of Guru Nanak Dev University. Education Minister Om Prakash Soni and Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla were guest of honours in the session.Sharing his views on freedom of press which is one of the topics of the planery, Sidhu said the journalists are truly saying that they don’t have freedom of speech of expression and murders of their colleagues are result of this kind of atmosphere being created in the country. “Without the freedom of press, the democratic institutions cannot be made accountable before society. In other words, we can say that freedom of speech and expression is spirit of the democracy”, he elaborated.On promises made by Congress before assembly elections, the Punjab Cabinet Minister assured that he would try his best on every level to ensure that the promises are delivered. He also said that he would also raise the concerns of journalists in Punjab Vidhan Sabha. “An Act is very much needed to be passed in the assembly to ensure safety of the journalists”, he added.
While addressing, Aujla said the press is fourth pillar of the democracy and entire political system would collapse if the concerns of the journalists are not addressed and measures are not taken for safety of the journalists. The education Minister lauded the efforts to raise the issues of the journalists and assured all kind of cooperation to the journalist organizations.Prior to this, SN Sinha, president of the IJU, delivered welcome speech during the session. Sabina Indrajee, vice president of International Journalists Federation, Shrinivas Reddy, founder leader, Amar Dev, national general secretary and Balwinder Jammu, president of Punjab and Chandigarh Journalists Union also expressed their views with the delegates came from as many as 24 states of the country. Rajan Mann, on behalf of Amritsar Chapter of the PCJU, offered vote of thanks.On second day, Sunday, , Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa will be the Chief Guest and Revenue Minister Sukh binder Singh Sarkaria, BJP Punjab President and Rajya Sabha member Swet Malik, Congress MLAs Harpratap Singh Ajnala and Inderbir Singh Bularia will be guests of honour.Session on second day will discuss the issues of concern to the journalists, state of the media in the country and challenges to the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and independent journalism.The conference is expected to chalk out a program of action demanding new Wage Board to the newspaper employees. It will pass a number of resolutions on various subjects affecting the freedom of expression and other democratic rights, said Sinha.GS Paul, Jagtar Singh Lamba, Sanjay Garg, Vipin Rana, Rakesh Gupta,Davinder Singh Bhangu, Dilbag Singh Attari, Surjit Singh, Harkirat Singh and other members of the Amritsar chapter were present on the occasion.