IFJ condemns dismissal of respected Indian journalist and activist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and the National Union of Journalists (India) in condemning the illegal dismissal of respected union leader Geetartha Pathak from the Assam Bani on June 19. The IFJ and its affiliates say the action is a direct and deliberate attack against Pathak’s trade union activity and have called for his immediate reinstatement.

Pathak, also the secretary of IJU and the President of Journalists Union of Assam, has  worked in the newspaper published by the Assam Tribune Group of Publications for 27 years and was assistant editor when his services were terminated. The media house had issued Pathak with several “show-cause”notices and warnings but despite responding to those notices, his services were summarily terminated without any inquiry or any other due process of law.

The IJU President SN Sinha in a letter to the newspaper management said: “The reason for dismissing Geetartha Pathak is because he has been taking a keen interest in the affairs of the employees’ union. He has been made a victim for his activities  and it is a baseless and frivolous reason to dismiss someone after 27 years of service.”

Describing the action as a “witch hunt”, the IJU said the dismissal was: “Nothing but victimization for trade union activity.”

The IFJ, IJU and NUJ (India) call upon the management of Assam Tribune Group of Publications to immediately reinstate  Mr Pathak.

The NUJ (India) Secretary Pramod Saini said: “We call upon the immediate withdrawal of all false charges levied against Pathak and that he is immediately reinstated. If there are any cases charged against him, we ask that you follow the due process of law and uphold the principles of natural justice.”

The IFJ said this was a clear breach of his right to union activity and that the South Asia Media Solidarity Network, comprising all the key unions in South Asia, had also strongly criticized the actions of the Assam Tribune Group in its resolution last week.

“The IFJ calls on all Indian journalists and our colleagues in the region to back our journalist colleague and his right to union activity and call for his reinstatement by the Assam Tribune Group.”