Pune: The Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation (AMC) in Maharashtra has issued a letter to a local journalist of a Marathi daily, asking him to submit information and evidence related to his “question-cum-accusation” within three days. That the COVID-19 vaccine doses were being sold outside the vaccination centers run by the civic body.
However, with the letter released on Sunday sparking controversy, the civic body withdrew it late on Wednesday evening, and also apologized saying it was sent “inadvertently”.
According to the letter sent by the AMC’s health department, the journalist of Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana had raised the issue during a press conference organized by District Guardian Minister Hasan Mushrif on August 15.
The journalist said the letter was in fact a “notice”, and claimed that he had not asked the question during the press conference.
“During the press conference, you raised a question-cum-allegation about COVID-19 vaccines being sold outside vaccination centers run by the civic body. Instead of doing so, you raised the issue in the press conference in the presence of the Guardian Minister. Administrative The level is not appropriate,” said the letter addressed to the journalist by Dr Satish Rajurkar, Health Officer, AMC.
Since the matter (the question raised by the journalist) is tantamount to an “allegation”, it lowers the morale and energy of the employees working towards controlling COVID-19, it added.
“Since the Municipal Commissioner has directed to conduct a detailed inquiry, you are requested to provide information and evidence as to where the alleged incident (vaccines being sold outside) took place and who are the staff members involved. ‘In three days,’ the letter further said.
Rajurkar, while talking to PTI, said that it cannot be called a notice, as it was a simple letter seeking information about the issue of alleged misconduct raised by the journalist during the press conference.
“When this question was raised, the commissioner of AMC assured action and sought information. Accordingly we have sent him a letter asking us to provide details. Normally, journalists are first informed about several things. So if the information is shared with us, we can take appropriate action,” he said.
The journalist said that though the civil administration was reporting it as a letter, it was actually a notice as they have sought information within three days.
“A delegation of journalists met the district collector today and handed over a letter regarding this notice,” he said.
Regarding his question, he told that during the press conference he had only sought information about the number of doses being given to Ahmednagar.
“When I asked this question about the number of doses being provided for the district, another reporter raised the question of jointly selling the vaccine. I did not ask that question. Other journalists also asked some other questions. But since I raised the first question, they sent me a notice.”
He said that journalists have the right to ask questions, while the administration has the right to deny or answer it.
Meanwhile, the AMC on Wednesday withdrew the letter issued to the journalist.
“The letter was issued inadvertently and has been withdrawn. I personally apologize for it,” Rajurkar said in a statement.