NEW DELHI, India: Rashtarpati Bhawan is under strict surveillance, a watch on visitors as well as telephone calls to Rashtrapati Bhawan is being kept. This is evident from the experiences of two journalists of Indian Express after a routine visit to Rashtrpati Bhawan. On Wednesday, one of the journalists was called in the night by top brass enquiring whether he had secured the copy of the letter written by the Prime Minister to the President. This enquiry was obviously to know whether Rashtrapati Bhawan has leaked the Prime Minister’s reply sent a day earlier. On Thursday, an appointment of another senior journalist of the Indian Express was fixed with one of the senior members of the staff of the President which was to have taken place at a convenient place. At the appointed time there were two car loads of watchers outside the place. The cars apparently belonged to the Intelligence wing. These cars left soon after the journalist left the place. Telephone tapping is going on extensively for some time. Some of the senior secretaries of the government of India, who apparently know what’s going on, have been explicitly warning the journalists not to talk on the telephone.

The government is also chartering the visitors’ booth at the residence of Cabinet Ministers and all particulars of the visitors are being recorded. This was not done earlier even though the security guards have been posted there for some time. In the circumstances Delhi has become a thorny place for working journalists, according to Indian Express.

For some time past, it is practically impossible to go anywhere near the Prime Minister to get his reaction on any important developments even if he may be somewhere around. Gone are the days for the journalists when they could throng around the Congress Party President or the Prime Minister after the Party meeting. Now the meetings are invariably held at the Prime Minister’s residence from which the journalists are kept a furlong or two away. It is impossible to reach the Prime Minister even through members of the party executive or ministers who speed away in their cars with security guards to their homes which are equally debarred and now the new regimentation of extensive telephone tapping has choked the only form of communication available.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 27, 1987