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Senior journalist who broke fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh "sent" to Dhanbad in "punishment posting"

By Our Representative
Gujarat’s one of the most well-known senior journalists, Prashant Dayal, who shot into prominence nationally after al case of sedition was instituted against him for a series of scathing stories on then police commissioner OP Mathur in the Times of India in 2008, has been asked leave his chief reporter’s job and instead go to Dhanbad, Jharkhand, by his new bosses of the Bhaskar group. Reason? Says Dayal, “I refused to sign-up a letter forwarded to me by the management, which said I will not accept the Justice Majithia wage board award. It is a punishment posting, which I will not accept.”
The award, which offered a 50-60 per cent hike in working journalists’ salary, was announced on basis of recommendations of a commission instituted by the Government of India under Justice GR Majithia in 2009.
Known for decades for his incisive crime reporting, Dayal, a Gujarati journalist, switched over to Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati daily) from the Times of India, Ahmedabad, more than a year ago because he was offered a better package as chief reporter. “Who doesn’t know Dhanbad? The well-known two-part feature film, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, is based on coal mafia of Dhanbad”, Dayal told Counterview. “I told the management, if they didn’t want, they need not give me the wage board award, and I will not take it, but they cannot force us to sign a paper like this.”
On January 7, 2014, a Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and S K Singh rejected various challenges by “management of various newspapers” to the wage board award. In its judgment, the bench ruled “the wages as revised/determined shall be payable from November 11, 2011 when the Government of India notified the recommendations of the Majithia wage board. All the arrears up to March, 2014 shall be paid in four equal installments within a period of one year and continue to pay the revised wages from April, 2014 onwards”.
Justice Majithia
While refusing the Bhaskar group management’s plea to sign the paper that he would not accept the Justice Majethia award, Dayal in his email dated June 4 said, “I am writing this mail in connection with the recent events of state editor and city editor calling reporters and compelling them to sign to waive off their rights to get benefits of recommendations of Majithia commission, approved by the Supreme Court. I am writing this email representing the Ahmedabad city reporters as their team leader and upon their request.”
He underlined, “Reporters tell me that those who have not signed on the papers, made individual choice and it was their personal decision. This is put to your notice that those who have either refused or were unable to sign were not against the management and are working in harmony. The work environment has been better and I believe should always remain the same.”
Expressing his concern, Dayal said in his email, “Reporters were told that the company may retrench or transfer the staff if the person doesn't sign the paper. This stand is not professionally appropriate, and if after such threats to reporters, any coercive actions are taken against them, I believe it is the time for the HR to ensure that such steps are not taken. This is to clarify that this is not a union activity or rebel against the management or the company.”
“I hope that you would take the email in spirit rather than going on the language of this email”, Dayal’s email concluded. Meanwhile, several sections of journalists of the Gujarati newspapers, who work as employees and are not on contract, are feeling that, following the the Dayal episode, efforts would be made by other newspaper owners to ensure that the Majithia award is not implemented in the newspapers. Journalists working on contract are not covered by the award, which if implemented would mean 50-60 per cent in journalists’ salary.
When in the Times of India, Prashant is known to have broken major stories, including the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, for which he received threats to life. Before joining the Times of India several years ago, Dayal worked with Divya Bhaskar, which he rejoined. In a recent interview, he told a Gujarati monthly, “Jalso”, that every effort was made to compromise him. Apart from threats, he was sought to be bribed for not doing breaking stories that he had been doing.

Comments

At the outset let me commend Prashant Dayal for his principled stand.Mediamen want to do their job.Managements would be best advised to do what they are best at-journalism-rather than embroil them in their petty media management intrigues and politics.Media co. managements dont want wageboards.Why?simply because they do not want to pay just wages to the sloggers.Freedom of the Press?Bull!Freedom of the owners to do ,you know what?Somebody should be writing a book on Journalism:from missionary to mercenary!Fight man,fight for the best values of journalism! rk misra

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