Shyam Meera Singh said that ‘there is the freedom to murder and lynch but there is no freedom to criticise Modi or the current government; if there was freedom, why would he face termination?

(Republished with permission from GauriLankeshNews).

In an autocratic move, Aaj Tak, a Hindi-language news channel operating under the India Today group has terminated the services of one of its journalists citing two tweets made by him on his personal account. Shyam Meera Singh, a journalist with the channel since December 2020 took it to Twitter to inform that the termination of his services was because of two tweets that were critical about PM Modi.

Who says Respect the Prime Minister. They should first ask Modi to respect the post of Prime Minister post.

— Shyam Meera Singh (@ShyamMeeraSingh) July 17, 2021

The termination letter from Aaj Tak which Singh shared on his Twitter account mentioned that the contract of employment for the journalist under the India Today group prohibited the use of social media for airing personal views.

Even though the termination letter mentions that he had already received ‘two warnings’, in reality, he was not given any warning personally. However, Singh further added that during meetings journalists at the channel were repeatedly told to not post personal views on the social media platforms.

‘When journalists in any country are asked to refrain from expressing their ‘personal views’ it means that they are being asked to refrain from being critical about the ruling government,’ Singh told Gauri Lankesh News.

This is termination letter from my company Aaj Tak.

— Shyam Meera Singh (@ShyamMeeraSingh) July 19, 2021

Earlier Singh had tweeted that whenever he shares a personal opinion on his Twitter account, some people tag his news company demanding his termination. He further added that he will continue to express his views and reiterated that ‘Modi is a shameless Prime Minister.’

यहाँ ट्विटर पर कुछ लिखता हूँ तो कुछ लोग मेरी कंपनी को टैग करने लगते हैं. कहते हैं इसे हटाओ, इसे हटाते क्यों नहीं… मैं अगला ट्वीट और अधिक दम लगाकर लिखता हूँ. पर इसे लिखने से पीछे नहीं हटूँगा कि Modi is a shameless Prime Minister.

— Shyam Meera Singh (@ShyamMeeraSingh) July 17, 2021

Addressing the larger question of press freedom in the country, Singh told Gauri Lankesh News that ‘freedom exists in this country, there is the freedom to murder, lynch, and if you look at news channels running 24*7, you might feel that there is definitely freedom of expression too. However, there is no freedom to criticise Modi or the current government; if there was freedom, why would I face termination?’

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Singh prior to joining Aaj Tak, worked with the English-Language newspaper The Economic Times. Following his tweets about job termination at Aaj Tak, several journalists and media personnel took to social media to write in his support.

This is shameless. @aajtak have terminated their journalist @ShyamMeeraSingh for criticising @narendramodi, height of shamelessness. Bhakti ki charam sima par pahunch gaya hai aajtak

— Sumit Chauhan (@Sumitchauhaan) July 19, 2021

So Aaj Tak doesn’t permit journalists to use their personal social media platforms for anything except news?

— Sucharita Tyagi (@Su4ita) July 19, 2021

A journalist in india has been terminated from his job at news channel (Aaj Tak) for writing a tweet that is critical of Narendra Modi.

— Amaan (@amaanbali) July 19, 2021

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