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Punjabi Press Club passes condolence motion for Gobind Thukral Featured

 

The Surrey-based Punjabi Press Club of British Columbia (PPCBC) has passed a condolence motion for veteran Indian journalist Gobind Thukral, who passed away on September 29 at the age of 79, after losing his battle with cancer.

He had worked with various reputed dailies and magazines, including Indian Express, India Today, The Hindustan Times and The Tribune.

The motion was unanimously passed by the PPCBC members at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 8.  

Thukral had extensively covered Punjab, which witnessed a decade long Sikh militancy from 1980s-1990s. This was a time when the Sikh militants were fighting an armed insurgency for a separate homeland. He had covered all aspects of the movement, including the police repression of Sikhs during the conflict. He pulled no punches while criticising both sides, even as journalists faced death threats from both the police and the extremists.

Thukral also wrote in great detail about the 2002 anti-Muslim massacre of Gujarat in his book Troubled Reflections: Reporting Violence, which takes a critical look at the way media functioned during the bloodshed and gave legitimacy to those involved. The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat back then and is widely believed to be complicit in the genocide. 

The book also takes into account the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. Engineered by then-ruling Congress Party, the massacre of innocent Sikhs fuelled more militancy in Punjab.

Thukral had visited Canada on several occasions. He strongly believed in equality, social justice and international solidarity. He remained critical of religious fanaticism and ultra-nationalism of all stripes.  

The members of PPCBC feel that today, when India is witnessing growing attacks on religious minorities, political dissent and free press under a right wing Hindu nationalist government, the death of Gobind Thukral is a major blow to secularism, and to fair and fearless journalism.

The PPCBC also paid tributes to Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was tortured and murdered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey on October 2, 2018. Khashoggi was critical of the Saudi government. On his first death anniversary, the members of PPCBC denounced growing attacks on free expression all over the world and demanded justice for the slain journalist. 

The members also passed a motion to condemn the suppression of press freedom in Indian-occupied Kashmir, which remains under lockdown since August 5. They unanimously expressed their solidarity with Kashmiri journalists who had recently protested against censorship and media blockade by the Indian forces in the region.      

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