Tuesday, May 03, 2016

25 journalists staying in government provided bungalows in Delhi

Twenty five media-persons are presently staying in Central government provided type-4, type-5 and type-6 government flats in the national capital.

As per the response shared by the Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Urban Development, to an RTI query filed by me, all these flats are situated in posh areas like RK Puram, Pandara road, Bapa nagar,Kaka nagar,Hudco Place Extension and Andrews Ganj Extension.

Some of these bungalows were allotted to the journalists as far back as the 1970s and 1980s.

Officials in the Urban Development ministry said that the allotment of government flats to journalists are rare and is based on the discretion of the incumbent minister. “In Delhi, there is always a shortage of government accommodations for the government officials who have the first claim over such accommodations hence it is in rare cases that a government accommodation is given to a media person. Unless and until the concerned minister really wishes for the allotment of the flats to a media persons, the government flats are very rarely allotted to them”, an official with the directorate of estate said.

Interestingly, in December 2012, the Supreme Court in an order, had asked the government to make sure some of these journalists vacate the ‘illegally occupied government bungalows’ as they had overstayed their entitlement. The Supreme Court had given the order after the National Green Tribunal, which approached the Supreme Court, presenting its problem regarding non availability of a suitable accommodation for it to function from, after which the SC asked the government to act.

However, more than 4 years later, some of the journalists, who were required to vacate the government accommodation, still continue to stay in those flats.

Very few of the journalists who are staying in these accommodations are working for a mainstream publication.

One of them brings out a Hindi daily from Ghaziabad, while another journalist is working for a local news channel. A journalist from a south Indian magazine has been staying the flat for the past 13 years, another journalist of a Chennai based magazine ‘Junior Vikatan’ was allotted the flat in 2006. A journalist with "Spot films' too was given the flat in 2003. A reporter with ‘Amrit Sandhesh’ newspaper that is published by the family of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, was allotted the flat in 2006. Similarly a representative of SUN TV was given the flat in 2006. One such flat is in the possession of a reporter from Amar Ujala newspaper. A reporter from Andhra Prabha, a Telugu newspaper, too was given the flat in 2006. A cameraman with ‘Asian Film TV’ was allotted the flat in 2003.

The demand from Gujarat...

Former Home Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who is in the eye of storm for his role in the Ishrat Jahan case, might have admitted the role and influence of a Gujarat based Congress leader in the whole case.

Chidambaram, while quoting his interview that he gave to Hindu Business Line which appeared on 25, April,shared multiple tweets on his twitter account. 

The content of three of these tweet reads , “Although I have no recollection of seeing the first affidavit, let us presume that I did. Then came the report of Magistrate SP Tamang. This report caused an uproar & there was demand mainly from Gujarat that Government of India should clarify or dispel misinterpretation being placed on the First affidavit. This is why a Second, short affidavit was filed!”.

The reference to a ‘demand, mainly from Gujarat’ to effectively change the first affidavit, has led to strong speculations that the former Home Minister has unknowingly admitted that there was a strong demand from certain Congress circles to change the content of the first affidavit, which in essence stated that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar module, and that demand had come from a Gujarat based leader.

On 21 February, I did a story for The Sunday Guardian “Manmohan ministers tried to implicate Modi in Ishrat case” http://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/3423-manmohan-ministers-tried-implicate-modi-ishrat-case, in which I had written about how a top Congress leader from a western state, had written to the Prime Minister’s Office in the first week of September 2009, expressing dismay that because of the first affidavit the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could not be framed in Ishrat’s encounter. The Congress leader was unhappy that the MHA’s affidavit had placed on record that Ishrat was a terrorist.

“Chidambaram, who is very articulate with his words and uses his every word very carefully, has clearly stated that the ‘demand’ to change the affidavit had come from Gujarat. Obviously it did not come from Modi or the BJP. Since he has used the word ‘demand’, it implies that it had come from someone who was very influential. Now, he might say that this ‘demand’ had come from the civil society or human right activists but we all know whom he is referring to”, an official who is familiar with the entire case, said. 


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