Panaji : The hauling of three photojournalists to the police station who photographed President Pratibha Patil while she was sunning herself at a Goa beach during a private visit here has not been taken to kindly by the local media.
Published photographs showed the 73-year-old president in a yellow printed sari, lounging on Benaulim beach, 35 km from here, with a white tourist couple in skimpy swimwear in the foreground.
On Wednesday, photojournalists Ganadeep Sheldekar, Soiru Komarpant, both working for regional English language dailies, and Arvind Tengse, a freelance photographer, were summoned by police.
They were questioned for several hours as to why and how they photographed the president when she was on a private visit.
O Herald O, a leading English daily, asked in an editorial: “”Was any crime committed? If so, under which section of what law? If not, what was the reason behind summoning the photographers and recording their statements?”
“If photographers are to be forbidden from taking photographs of the president, it can only be by force of law. It cannot be because the president’s security officer feels in his personal ‘wisdom’ that taking pictures of the president on a private holiday is inappropriate,” it said.
Prakash Kamat, president of the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ), said the police summons amounted to “police interference in media functioning”.
The Photo Journalists Association Goa (PJAG) too condemned the police.
On Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took the police to task.
“It is wrong on the part of the police to call the journalists,” BJP chief spokesperson Rajendra Arlekar said.
“If you see those photos, they show so many civilians in close vicinity of the president. That is the lapse they are trying to hide,” Arlekar said.
The photographs show security personnel and a dozen tourists milling around Patil. They included a middle-aged bare-chested male tourist and his female partner wearing a one piece swim suit.