What happens when police try to derail a press conference by protesting villagers? The Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) hosts it, a day later!
According to a press statement by GUJ, the press conference started in Melauli on July 8, 2020, ended in Panaji more than a day later. The villagers had been protesting a proposed IIT project and wanted to hold a press conference to explain their stand but police decided this was a violation of Sec 144!
The GUJ stepped in to host it instead, stating that the detention of the villagers was a violation of their freedom of expression.
Here is a statement from GUJ giving details of the ‘protest’ press conference:
The Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) held a unique protest by inviting the detained villagers of Melauli -Shell, Sattari to hold a press conference in Panaji on Thursday. The Valpoi police had earlier disrupted the press conference at Melauli, Sattari on Wednesday, insisting they did not have the necessary permissions.
Villagers Shubham Shivolkar, Ram Melekar and Pandurang Shivolkar were detained by the Valpoi police while they were preparing to address a press conference on the proposed IIT project under the banner of Melauli Panchkroshi Gram Bachav Andolan at the Jalmi Sateri devasthan in Melauli.
According to Valpoi PI Sagar Ecoskar, the villagers were detained for violating section 144. The villagers, though, said they never violated any guidelines. Instead, there were only four people who were addressing the press conference with face masks and maintaining proper social distance.
Disrupting a press conference didn’t go down well with many, including the state’s journalist fraternity. If a press conference in Sattari can be disrupted for violation of section 144, why not disrupt press conferences in Panaji and other government functions? If there is a containment zone in Sattari, Tiswadi, which houses the state capital of Panaji, also has containment zones.
The Goa Union of Journalists took a serious note of the incident where freedom of speech and freedom of press was being challenged.
GUJ decided to invite all the detained villagers to Panaji and complete the press conference which was started in Melauli-Sattari on Wednesday.
“Law cannot be different for different people. This is democracy and everyone deserves freedom of speech and expression,” said GUJ president Rajtilak Naik.
Goa Union of Journalists