PUCL Bulletin, May 2002

Acceptance Speech by Reji Joseph

Hon'ble Justice S. M. Daud, Hon'ble Justice Zakeria Mohd. Yacoob, Hon'ble PUCL President K. G. Kannabiran, Hon'ble General Secretary Dr. Y. P. Chhibbar, PUCL State President P. B. D' Sa, Award winner Ms. Rani George, and other ladies & gentleman,

I am extremely happy and fell proud to have been selected for this prestigious National Award instituted by PUCL, which has been rendering impearled service to humanity for over three decades. The prime article of faith of a journalist specialising in human rights reporting is the sense of justice and fearlessness which is contained in the famous dictum 'Even if a 1000 culprits escape, no innocent person should be victimised.'

Even though the ideas of democracy, socialism, and Secularism have been included in our Constitution, human rights are violated every moment. It is the press, which is rightly called the Fourth Estate, that plays the leading role in preserving truth and justice.

How terrible is the row of criminal acts taking place every moment, Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the South. It in estimated that 4 women are molested and a murder takes place every minute in this country. The rights of citizens are always trampled underfoot.

A real journalist is the spokesmen and defender of truth and justice. How dangerous it is to go into the midst of the underworld goondas and the anti-social elements and do their duty by speaking out the truth? Many innocent people got subjected to the cruel treatment in the police stations and in the lock-ups over 9 lakh under trial prisoners are seeking justice in the various jails of the country.

It become my lot, as a journalist standing for faith, to peep into the jails and police stations as we are not normally welcome there women, children and those of the scheduled caste and tribes are facing harassment and torture everywhere and at all times. Those in charge of establishing law and order have degraded themselves as specimens of the negation of law.

The journalist trying to stand for justice and to proclaim truth is forced to face many a crimes. He discharges his duty standing in the midst of aggression, plundering, and looting. He has to face always situations threatening him with death or arrest or at least severe injuries.

But if his life in the discharge of his duties in such situations, he does not get any security by way of insurance in India. Every movement a journalist has to face the threat from militants, the underworld and suppressions even from the police force.

His works were always be effecting either an individual or movement or the society and naturally he is freed to live in a frightening atmosphere
I would like to repeat emphatically my moral obligation to speak for those who are denied justice and fair play.

Let me once again declare in unambiguous terms my sense of gratitude to the PUCL for this award. My thanks to all of you for patiently listening to me. Jai Hind