Shillong, Jan. 15: The Meghalaya cabinet, facing protests on uranium mining and power deals, this evening decided to restrict the media on reporting bandhs, hartals, road blockades or any other form of protests sponsored by NGOs, political parties or groups of people.
After adopting the recent Gauhati High Court verdict and the Supreme Court ruling banning bandhs, chief minister D.D. Lapang today said in line with the court rulings, the media would also be barred from publicising news about bandhs, hartals and road blockades.
On January 6, Gauhati High Court declared bandhs “illegal and unconstitutional” as these violate the citizens’ fundamental rights.
The order was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Arun Chandra Upadhyay in the light of a 1997 Supreme Court order upholding a Kerala High Court judgment declaring bandhs “illegal”.
Asked whether the court rulings had anywhere mentioned any restriction on the media in reporting bandhs and other forms of agitations, Lapang replied in the negative but added that the cabinet would frame its own rule to restrict the media from publicising bandhs and agitations by pressure groups and political parties.
The decision of the hurriedly-convened cabinet meeting assumes significance in view of the upcoming agitations by pressure groups, including the Khasi Students Union and the Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People, against the government’s move to go ahead with uranium mining.
Lapang had said at a recent business summit in Calcutta that the government would be able to start uranium mining by the middle of this year.