Omar defends journalists in assembly, wins applause

Omar defends journalists in assembly, wins applause
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Jammu: Two days after PDP MLA Javed Beg lambasted the Kashmir media in the state assembly, saying “journalists want nuisance of news”, Leader of Opposition Omar Abdullah on Friday asked the Deputy Speaker to not be so harsh on reporters after he warned them to not use mobile phones inside the assembly.

Omar seconded the concern raised by the National Conference’s Jammu head, Devender Singh Rana, that journalists in the House should be allowed to work smoothly.

Deputy Speaker Nazir Gurezi had directed some officials to snatch the mobile phone of a journalist when he was using it inside the assembly.

“Don’t use mobile phones, otherwise I won’t allow you to use it in the House in future,” Gurezi said, addressing the press gallery.

A minute later, Rana stood up and defended the journalists. Omar then asked him to sit and instead spoke himself.

“Times have changed,” Omar told the Deputy Speaker, who comes from the land-locked Gurez valley where cell phones do not work properly and no internet exists. “Now journalists don’t come with big cameras and people don’t wait for newspapers in the morning,” Omar said. “Journalists are using phones for live streaming and other online media. You can’t be so harsh.”

“If the cell phones don’t work, members of this House will start complaining that their proceedings are not being covered,” he added.

Omar’s words led to loud table-thumping by the reporters for at least 40 seconds. He smiled at the appreciation.

Gurezi clarified, “I have only banned using phone by reporters for voice calls.”

For the record and necessary action, the press gallery is dangerously designed. There is every chance that the laptops which reporters use may fall down and hurt someone sitting in the House in the Officers’ gallery.”