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New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has urged law enforcement agencies around the country to not prevent journalists from doing their job and reporting the coronavirus outbreak during the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It has also urged the government to put in place a system of regular media briefings at the ministerial level to ensure communication about the outbreak does not suffer.

The Guild, in a statement issued Thursday, said it had noted with concern that high-handed and arbitrary police action has obstructed many journalists from reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in many parts of the country.

“Such action is self-defeating when media freedoms are critically important for covering the outbreak and the state response,” the statement said.

“The job of the police is not to impede journalists’ work, especially under current circumstances, but to facilitate their functioning. The State and Union Territory governments and the police also need to be reminded that media has been exempted as an essential service under the current lockdown guidelines of the Union Home Ministry,” the Guild said.

Urging all law enforcement agencies “to let the media play its role as smoothly as possible”, the Guild said, “It also urges the government to put in place a suitable mechanism to facilitate minister-level regular briefings during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, so that communication does not suffer as it doesn’t give the media adequate opportunity to ask questions.”

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