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Indian Journalists Union (IJU), while appealing to the Union government to declare working journalists as frontline warriors, has urged all states and Union territories to separately announce compensations to the families of media persons who lost their life due to COVID-19.

The national union of journalists lauded the state governments who have already paid compensations to the beneficiaries.

The union mentioned that the Odisha government has offered Rs 15 lakh to each family, who lost a working journalist due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab governments have announced Rs 10 lakh each to such victim families. Both Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh governments announced Rs 5 lakh each, followed by announcement of Rs 4 lakh by Bihar government, and Rs 2 lakh by the Telangana government to the kin of journalists who died due to COVID-19 complications.

Northeast India lost at least 20 journalists due to COVID-19 since the pandemic hit in March 2020, informed Nava Thakuria, an IJU enthusiast and India representative to the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).  Besides three journalists who died while working outside the region, all others succumbed to virus-infection aggravated ailments, while performing their duty as COVID warriors.

Assam witnessed the highest number of COVID-19 casualties among media persons (13 journalists). Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya also lost their journalists to the pandemic. But no state government in the region has sanctioned a single rupee to the victim families.

“Assam government initially announced that it would include the COVID-19 media victims in the list of Rs 50 lakh life insurance scheme beneficiaries along with the other frontline warriors, but lately it remained silent over the commitment,” said a statement issued by IJU president K Sreenivas Reddy and secretary-general Balwinder Singh Jammu. They added that other Northeast states should also come forward offering adequate compensations to affected families.

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