‘Times have changed’

Deepak Khajuria. Updated: 1/13/2018 2:13:30 AM Front Page

Omar comes to journalists' rescue after Dy Speaker bans using mobile phones in Assembly

JAMMU: In a departure from the usual attacks made by the government and the opposition against each other, the first sitting of Legislative Assembly witnessed Leader of Opposition Omar Abdullah, coming out in support of journalists present in the press gallery, minutes after Deputy Speaker Nazir Gurezi, irked by some scribes using mobile phones to transmit the proceedings of the house in live-time to their concerned newspapers/ channels, banned the journalists to carry mobiles inside the house, which was ultimately withdrawn.
Even as his colleague Devender Rana was first to object to Gurezi's ruling, Omar took it upon himself to protest against the ban, politely telling the Deputy Speaker that times have changed and such rule would be akin to denying the journalists an opportunity to carry out their professional duties.
As the things unfolded, the ruling of the Deputy Speaker came when he saw some video journalists recording the proceedings with mobile phones and also clicking pictures.
"Don't use the mobile phones otherwise I won't allow you with phones in the house," Gurezi said addressing press gallery, followed by orders of snatching the mobiles from journalists who were using mobile internet for reporting.
Soon after the order, NC MLA Devender Rana interfered, asserting that the restriction on media persons from using mobile phones for work purposes was not genuine and it was not good to restrict their entry with mobile phones.
On this, Omar took the opportunity and asked Rana to sit and instead spoke himself.
The former Chief Minister stood and told the Deputy Speaker that these are not the times when news paper offices would wait for hours together for getting the reports about the proceedings of the house and mobiles are the most convenient instruments of communication and bar on journalists to use mobile phones for reporting the assembly proceedings is tantamount to denying them an opportunity to carry out their professional duties.
"Media persons are using phones for live streaming and other online media. You can't be so harsh. If they don't work, members of this House will themselves start complaining that their proceedings are not being covered," said Omar.
The Deputy Speaker immediately withdrew his ruling and clarified to Omar that some of the journalists were talking over mobile phones which disturbed some of the MLAs present in the House.
Omar's timely intervention was appreciated by scribes sitting in the press gallery, who welcomed it with thumping the desks and NC's working president reciprocated it with smile.
It is worth mentioning that Omar Abdullah is one of the most popular politicians of the country, who are quite active on tweeter and other social media platforms and even also famous among youth for the same.

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