Congress criticises journalist being banned from Goa Assembly

Panaji: The Congress on Tuesday accused the Goa government of targeting journalists and also urged the Speaker not to selectively debar journalists from entering the state Assembly complex after a mediaperson was banned from the ongoing budget session.

“A journalist has been castigated for giving some information. The CID and Crime Branch has been calling him. The government of the day should be magnanimous and have a sense of statesmanship,” Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo told reporters.

“Threatening reporters and stifling of democracy and press is not correct. We strongly condemn it. If anyone has made a mistake he should apologise or clarify.”

However, the Office of the Speaker in a clarification said the journalist, Harish Volvoikar who operates, was using an expired Assembly access pass and it amounted to “disregard and violation of rules and sanctity of the Vidhan Sabha”.

“As per records, the card was valid till March 2017 and he continued using the same card for almost a year thereafter,” it said.

“Hence, Honourable Speaker (Pramod Sawant) has decided to disallow Volvoikar, claiming to be a press or mediaperson from attending the assembly session.”

Volvoikar was debarred on Monday from entering the precincts of the Goa Legislative Assembly, two days after he sent across a message through his digital news service about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s ill-health and later retracted it.

Volvoikar was later summoned by the Cyber Cell of the Goa Police Crime Branch, after a BJP leader Sunil Desai complained to the police, claiming unknown persons were spreading rumours about Parrikar’s health.