Of scam, crusade and media outburst- Part I

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The mainstream media in Assam (or India) today faces enormous credibility crisis, but has it turned such low that a young State civil service officer could out rightly slam the ‘men in the medium’ with the help of alternate media? Is it the beginning of the end for media, particularly the free-to-air news channels in Assam or one more example to reckon with the future course of wider journalism? These and many more questions are being raised by the  professional journalists of the State after witnessing a video statement posted in Facebook by Ramanuj Hazarika, a 2015 batch Assam civil service officer, who declared that he had lost his respect for ‘Assamese media’ and claimed that he is ‘not amongst those who will keep quiet’ and digest the media’s slander silently. It all started with a small news item that Hazarika, the then election officer and executive magistrate of Dhemaji district in eastern
Assam, had resigned from his post. The news, mostly telecast by local (read Assamese) television channels, also added Hazarika took the decision to prepare for the next Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations. Till this point it was fine, but one or two news channels included few more words that Hazarika’s resignation at the time of astounding ‘cash for job’ scam under Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) run examinations carried significance (read apprehension) as over 25 young Assam Civil Service (ACS), Assam Police Service (APS) and few allied service officers (who had cleared the recent APSC examinations) are still in the government custody for probing their selection processes. Of course, an ACS officer can reign and prepares for a better opportunity by virtue of his democratic rights in the country. So when Hazarika resigned on November 23, 2017, it could (should) have been a
simple news item for media outlets. But the speculation raised by a section of television reporters made the issue murkier and suspicion grew if Hazarika (like all those tainted civil servants) tried to escape the anti-corruption police actions. Speculations were cropped up primarily for two reasons. First, the public opinions in Assam today are in favour of scanning all the answer-scripts of APSC run examinations under the chairmanship of Rakesh Kumar Paul (who is also facing trials after arrest) since 2015. Secondly, one may generously  question why an ACS officer should resign from his job for preparing the UPSC examinations (meaning that he could have applied for a longer leave).

(This is the first part of the article and the remaining portion will continue tomorrow)

Nava Thakuria

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)