12:07 am - Tuesday March 19, 2019

Subject: Press Freedom In West Bengal?

Dear Friends,

Subject: Press Freedom In West Bengal?


We are back on West Bengal but with no bias against the State or the minority community.

Here are some facts:

 The freedom of speech that includes press freedom, a fundamental right and a prized possession enshrined in our Constitution, has of late become a casualty in this much talked about State. A learned journalist of great standing, Shri Manas Ghosh, well known for his writing skill and specialisation on Bangladesh in the Calcutta (now Kolkata) based “The Statesman”, was made the founder- Editor of the “Dainik Statesman”, published in Bengali. He was replaced on November 25,2015,  as the Editor of “Dainik Statesman”  by the business editor of the paper Saikh Sadar Nayem.

There by hangs a tell. It is reliably learnt that Manas Ghosh had not been in the good book of the “presiding” deity of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee. The primary reason for that, we understand, was too much coverage by the “Dainik Statesman” of the internecine quarrel within the TMC and also the fight- out for area control with the CPM.
Then came the blunt coverage in the “Dainik Statesman” of the recently – held municipal election at the Bidhanagar Municipality with illustrative photographs showing free public usage of banned weapons by Trinamual volnteers, pushing aside the  policemen on duty. This was an extra dose in Bengaii “Dainik Stattsman”. That was perhaps too much of press freedom that “needed to be disciplined.”
The plan was simple. The concerned management was warned about such “unwanted” activity of the editor.” That did not work. Then, a bait was thrown at the editor of granting his publication a liberal rate of advertisement from the government. This did too not seem to work.
Manas Ghosh then thought it to better to quit. Or, was he forced to quit? Soon appeared on the front page of the “Dainik Statesman” a report “Mamatar Abhijoger Sarbatta Achhe,Itihas Tai Bole”, meaning thereby what Mamata says is so profound that that is borne out by history.”  This was in the context of the use of the CBI by the Centre, especially against the TMC.

We have not seen such flattery for the Chief Minister of a State in the local press, which is not a party mouth piece like the Ganatantra or Punchjajanya. Now, the new editor of the “Dianik Statesman”, is SAIKH SADAR NAYEEM.As the name suggests, the new Editor belongs to the minority community, perhaps in tune with the general pro-minority policy of the present day West Bengal government.
This was soon highlighted in an interesting manner.
Mamata Banerjee had nominated Pakistani citizen and a self- confessed founder member of the banned SIMI(Students Islamic Movement of India)to the Rajya Sabha as an MP, Ahmed Hasan (Imran Khan).This MP runs a Bengali  paper, namely, “KALAM”. In it, the MP befittingly celebrated the elavation of SAIKH SADAR NAYEEM as the Editor of the “Dainik Statesman”.           The relevant report very correctly highlights that it was for the first time in the long history of the famous “The Statesman” group, that a Muslim was appointed as an Editor. Nayeem was earlier the Business editor in the “Dainik Statesman”. The relevant press clipping from the Kalam is attached for the benefit of those who could read Bengali script.
Well, Friends, does not the instant case amount to coercion of sort or a violation of the fundamental right of  freedom speech or in this case of freedom of press?

Were we expecting something different or better in West Bengal?


   Your sevak,


        D.C. Nath

    (Former Spl. Director, IB)

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