India    HANDS OFF MEDIA, CATHOLIC JOURNALISTS TELL INDIAN GOVERNMENT
The Indian Catholic Press Association has called for renewed efforts to safeguard press freedom in the country and urged the government to refrain from interfering with media.
   The body also expressed dismay at the increasing threats to minority media in the country and demanded the restoration of postal concessions to some Church publications.
   Earlier this year the federal postal department withdrew postal concessions to publications that do not carry a certain quota of news material. The withdrawal, applicable only in Kerala state, affect most Church publications.
   The withdrawal prompted Church protest. It aims to "harass Christians" and "gag the mouthpieces of the community," the statement said.
   Some 40 Catholic journalists and editors from Church and secular media at the meeting said they regretted the move. In addition to using "political pressure" on newspapers, "the administration has also used the postal department to victimize the minority media," the journalists added.
   
UCAN 27/2/00

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