Shyamotpal Biswas,News correspondents from Agartala,Tripura,India, Entry of journalists, NGO activists and filmmakers into jails for writing articles or taking interviews of inmates has been banned by the government, except under special requests. The decision came after a series of incidents of jail inmates being interviewed by journalists including British film-maker Leslee Udwin who made a documentary on the December 16 gangrape case which sparked a huge controversy as she interviewed the convicts in Delhi’s Tihar jail. “No private individual/press/ NGO/company should ordinarily be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or interviews etc,” Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Kumar Alok said in an advisory sent to all states and UTs. However, state governments may consider allowing visitors/press/ documentary makers if the authorities feel that a particular documentary/ article/ research is for the purpose of creating positive social impact or the proposed work is relating to prison reforms or the authorities themselves decide to invite press/ film-makers to cover a particular event. If any permission is granted by the head of prison department of a state, the visitor has to submit a security deposit of Rs one lakh. Those who wish to make documentaries or conduct interviews, they may be allowed only handy-cam/camera/tape recorder but not mobile phones/ papers/ book/ pen. The jail superintendent himself has to be present at the spot. In case he is absent, the next senior most officer must accompany the visitor. The jail superintendent should intervene on the spot if he feels that a certain video clip or an interview being conducted is not desirable. No videography/photography should be allowed which may create potential security risk or social/communal disturbance. “After the visit is complete, the visitor shall hand over all their equipments like handy-cams, dictaphone, camera, tape recorder or any other equipment to the jail superintendent for a period of three days. All precautions should be taken to ensure that the visitor does not leave the jail premises with the recordings,” the advisory said. The jail superintendent shall then see/hear all the recordings carefully and if he finds anything objectionable, he shall delete that portion. The said equipment after careful scrutiny/editing may be returned after three days to the visitor. In case of newspaper/magazine/web-based articles, the visitor shall follow the norms of journalistic conduct prescribed by Press Council of India before preparing the material for publication. “The final version of the documentary/film/research paper/ articles/books to be released/published is to be submitted to the concerned state government/head of prison department for final ‘no objection certificate’ for publication/ release,” it said.
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