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AP: Another blow to Jagan amid protests by journalists

By Mohammed Siddique
May 10, 2012 12:29 IST
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Even as Sakshi media group of Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy was trying to recover from the shock of freezing of five of its bank accounts with deposits of Rs 112 crore, it has suffered another major blow.

The Andhra Pradesh government has banned the release of advertisement to Telugu Daily "Sakshi" and TV news channel "Sakshi" with immediate effect. The government has issued GO No 2097 to this effect.

According to the officials of the state information department, the ban has been imposed in view of the Central Bureau Investigation probe in to the alleged illegalities in the funding of the media group and freezing of its bank accounts as well as the charge sheets filed in the court in which Jagati Publications has been named among the accused.

The CBI was already probing the allegations that massive irregularities were committed in the release of ads to the Sakshi Group by the officials as it was owned by the son of then Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy. The CBI has already seized 46 files and also questioned the then commissioner of information Parthasarthy.

The ban on advertisement came on a day when the journalist community across the state was holding protest demonstration against the freezing of the bank accounts of three companies which run Sakshi daily and Sakshi channel, Jagati Publications, Indira Television Pvt Ltd and Janani Infrastructure.

While the accounts of three companies in Oriental Bank of Commerce and State Bank of India were frozen two days ago, the accounts in Overseas Bank of India were seized on Wednesday. CBI has informed the court that so far 10 accounts of the group have been seized. The deposits in these accounts include Rs 103 in fixed deposits.

In Hyderabad hundreds of journalists, many of them the employees of Sakshi group, took out a rally on the call of the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists and Indian Journalists Union. They journalists led by the IJU Secretary General D Amar, secretary M A Majid and APUWJ leaders K Srinivas Reddy and Narinder Reddy marched form union office to Tank Bund.

Later a delegation of journalists submitted a memorandum to the governor ESL Narasimhan demanding the de-freezing of accounts and allowing the media organisations to run without any hindrance.

Speaking on the occasion K Srinivas Reddy said that it was unjustified and unfair on the part of the CBI to selectively target the bank accounts of the media organisations. "Then what about the other bank accounts of other companies in the group? Does it mean that they have legal money parked in them?" he wondered.

He said that it appeared to be a politically motivated action as it timed with the by elections in the state. "If they think that they can win elections through the media, and anybody can stop them by curtailing media, it is foolishness", he said.

M A Majid, secretary IJU, demanded immediate withdrawal of the orders of freezing bank accounts as it was coming in the way of the newspaper and the TV channel working freely.

"It is not only a question of livelihood of 20,000 employees of Sakshi group but the major issue is of the freedom of the press. How they can take this action when the charges of illegalities in the funding were yet to be proved in the court of law?" he said.

Similar protest demonstrations were held in all the major cities and towns of the state.

Meanwhile the petition of Sakshi group challenging the CBI orders will come up in the CBI Special Court in Hyderabad later on Thursday.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
 
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