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Patriotic test by women's press club

A form for booking the facilities of the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC) for media conferences and meetings has sought a declaration from the member endorsing the event to declare that it will not have anti-national content.

By Ananya Sengupta
  • Published 18.01.17
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New Delhi, Jan. 17: A form for booking the facilities of the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC) for media conferences and meetings has sought a declaration from the member endorsing the event to declare that it will not have anti-national content.

The IWPC, known as the women's press club and housed in a small bungalow in the heart of Delhi, has for years been a popular place for social-sector NGOs, rights activists and individuals to address journalists. Its tiny hallway can be booked for an affordable Rs 5,000 for two hours.

The amended form has been circulated since September but the changes were noticed two days ago. "Nothing will be said which will be anti-national, question the integrity of the country, amount to sedition or cause harm to the reputation of the club," says the declaration form.

The Press Club of India does not have the condition for organising events.

Sources in the club, whose members total around 700 women journalists, said the club had decided to redraft the form after a managing committee meeting approved the change.

"There are people in the managing committee who support the new provision and we need a consensus before we can remove it. However, as of now, for bookings, we are not using that form," said an office-bearer who claimed that the issue had been discussed over two to three months before the decision was taken to make the changes.

The minutes of the meetings for the past few months do not mention any discussion on the issue. Some sources said neither the general body nor the managing committee had taken up the issue.

Some members expressed anger and anguish over the changes and felt that it was a "foolish attempt" to show allegiance to the ruling party.

Sources suggest that the form was revised by a particular office-bearer and sent by mail to the president and vice-president of the club and, upon approval, they were uploaded.

"Yes, they are asking a lot of questions these days. It is unfortunate that IWPC is succumbing to pressure.... This is how they crush dissent," said P. Muralidharan, the secretary of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, who is a regular at the club, organising media conferences on disability rights.