Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday declined to comment on Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju's statement that the press did not enjoy freedom in the state and was harassed if they wrote against the government.

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Katju targets Bihar govt on media issues

"I am not required to offer any comment," Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of the 87th foundation day of the Patna Medical College Hospital here.
   
However, Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, who was also present said, "Press enjoys full freedom in Bihar".
   
"We will congratulate Katju saheb if he sees only the issue of freedom of press instead of finding out what is happening in Bihar and the steps taken by Nitish Kumar for development with justice in the state," he said.
   
After slamming Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan over attacks on journalists in the state, Katju had on Friday targeted the Bihar government alleging the media in the state was harassed if it wrote against the government.

Media forced to act as mouthpiece of Nitish government: Lalu   

Meanwhile, RJD president Lalu Prasad strongly supported Markandey Katju's statement that the press did not enjoy freedom in Bihar saying "due to pressure" from Nitish Kumar government the media is forced to act as "mouthpiece" of his government.
   
"Justice Katju is right in his observation about the fate of the press under Nitish Kumar government in Bihar," Prasad, who was in Sikandrabad in Bulandshahr to canvass in support of Congress candidate Jitendra Yadav, whose son was recently married to his daughter said.

Prasad said the media was working under "tremendous pressure" of the state government in Bihar.
       
"Newspapers who dare to write against Kumar government is deprived of advertisements and the reporter is punished," the RJD chief said.

"There are 7,500 press-persons in Bihar of print and electronic media and all of them are working under pressure of the NDA government," he remarked.

"Their news which goes against the interest of the state government are thrown to dustbin by their own organization under pressure of the state government and the concerned reporter sternly dealt with," he claimed.

"Under thesecircumstance the media is forced to work as a mouthpiece of Nitish Kumar government," the RJD supremo whose party is the main opposition in Bihar, said.

Katju had on Friday targeted the Bihar government alleging the media in the state was harassed if it wrote against the government.

Media passing through bad phase in Bihar: CPI (ML)

Bihar state secretary Nand Kishore Prasad on Saturday described as 'absolutely true' Katju's comment on press freedom in Bihar.
        
"Katju's remarks on freedom of press under attack in Bihar is absolutely near truth", Prasad said here in a press statement.
        
The media is passing through the "most bad phase" in Bihar under Nitish Kumar's rule, he claimed.
        
The policy on advertisements adopted by the Nitish Kumar government had adversely affected freedom of expression as media houses have been 'compelled to bow down before the government which is most dangerous for democracy', he added.

(Agencies)