West district administration serves notice to Dainik Sambad- vernacular daily for COVID-19 reporting Credit: Representational Image

Agartala: A day after Tripura journalists gave a 3-day ultimatum to the chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb to withdraw his statement against media, the West district administration served a notice to Dainik Sambad, a vernacular daily for a news published in COVID-19 situation. They have demanded evidence to support the news report or face penal provisions.

The state chief minister on Friday charged some newspapers of trying to confuse people of Tripura and said he would not ‘forgive them’.

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Managing editor of Dainik Sambad, Paramita Livingstone clarified that violating section 54 of the Disaster Management Act 2006 is not at all applicable. As a responsible newspaper which is the largest circulated vernacular daily in North East India, the newspaper has been discharging its public duty and responsibility.

The newspaper also said that, “it appears that, without getting our response with a predetermined mind notice has been issued. Otherwise how your good office can arrive at a definite conclusion about the news items referred to in the notice without considering reply.”

Journalists from various media houses came together to form Tripura Assembly of Journalists, a joint body for asserting media rights, and condemned the chief ministers ‘threat to media’.

In a press statement, chairman of the forum, Subal Kumar Dey, said, “We condemn these anti-democratic and unconstitutional comments from the chief minister. We hope that he will withdraw his comments within three days”.

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The notice issued by the West Tripura District Magistrate Shailesh Kumar Yadav reads, “A news item titled ‘Swasrista Achalaytane Natukesafar’ authored by Paramita Livingstone, published on September 03, is baseless, concocted and prima-facie published with an objective not only to create panic among the citizens but also to denigrate the fighting spirit of the frontline workers involved in fighting COVID-19 pandemic in Tripura.”

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Yadav directed the newspaper authorities to submit documentary evidence based on which the news report claimed the situation at three COVID-19 treatment centres, GBP Hospital, Shahid Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel and Hapania Industry Department auditorium were ‘undescribable’. To explain how the newspaper claimed that lockdown and curfew wouldn’t be able to prevent or contain COVID-19, or the claim of insufficient PPEs available with the government, among other issues.

The notice mandated a reply within 5 PM on Monday, failing which the media would be liable to face legal action under provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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