Journalists wear black badges protesting against CM's remark on media in Agartala Credit: File Image

Agartala: Annoyed over the inaction of police in registering a complaint and taking necessary action over the assault of scribes in state, the members of the Assembly of Journalists (AoJ), a journalist forum for protection of media rights, will sit-in protest in front of Rabindra Satabarshikhi Bhawan on October 15 next.

Chairman of AoJ, Subal Kumar Dey said that attempts to suppress the press have been made across the state following the statement of the chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb in Sabroom on September 11.

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“We have decided to sit-in protest in front of Rabindra Satabarshikhi Bhawan placing two demands including immediate withdrawal of chief minister’s statement and rollback the written and unwritten orders from the government have gagged officials against speaking to media persons”, Dey said.

On October 2, journalists in Tripura wore black badges in protest against chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s statement on the media and his alleged attack over the freedom of speech and expression on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

“We had asked the chief minister to withdraw his statement, but did not receive any positive response from his office. Since September 13, we have been protesting against the statement of the chief minister. We met with the governor to resolve the matter and later wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Press Council of India in this regard”, Dey said.

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Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the special economic zone (SEZ) at Sabroom, Deb said that some media organizations are trying to confuse people of Tripura and said he would not ‘forgive them’.

“Some section of media are trying to create confusion among the people, getting over-excited. History will not forgive them, people of Tripura, will not forgive them and I, Biplab Kumar Deb, shall not forgive them. I do whatever I say, history is testimony to that,” Deb said.

The AoJ was formed in protest against the threat to the media and later served a 3-day ultimatum to the chief minister to withdraw his statement. However, four days later, Deb said he did not threaten or intent to hurt anyone.

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A team of five senior journalists from AoJ on Tuesday met with the Tripura director general of police (DGP) acting, Rajiv Singh demanding immediate remedial measures.

Senior journalist Jayanta Bhattacharya said that a memorandum was submitted to the DGP, apprising him about the series of attacks over 24 journalists in the last 31 months in which the police has failed to take any action.

“The DGP has assured that he would alert the police stations in this regard. The police chief also said if a police station does not take action in a particular case, SDPO or SP can be contacted, failing which the DGP or the Court would look into the matter. The scribes were also asked to file well written FIRs so that sections are included accordingly”, Bhattacharya said.

The copy of the memorandum submitted to the police chief reads, “During the past 31 months since March 2018 the media personnel in Tripura have become an endangered community because of frequent attacks on them by political and mafia elements whenever any news item published, despite authenticity appears to them to be prejudicial to their interests”.

Altogether 24 journalists have so far been assaulted and injured either by unruly activists of the ruling party or mafia elements enjoying patronage of the ruling party.

“The frequency of attacks has increased since September 11, 2020 and since then as many as seven journalists have been attacked and injured by ruling party activists and leaders and in the latest case, by mafia elements”, the copy of the memorandum handed over to media reads.

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Two teams of AoJ comprising senior most journalists and editors recently visited parts of the state to find that a deep fear psychosis has gripped the entire media community in these areas because of threat of attacks.

“No journalist in district, sub-division and block area feels safe enough to present an authentic and truthful account of events for fear of attacks on themselves as well as on their families”, Bhattacharya said.

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He also said that police personnel posted in these areas hardly ever register FIR and even when they do on rare occasions, they invariably invoke very light and easily bailable sections of IPC or CrPc.

Veteran journalist and editor of local daily, Tripura Observer, Arun Nath said that last Friday after a delegation of AOJ held its meeting with the scribes in Udaipur in Gomati district, the CA of one of the ministers called them to warn them.

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