Bengal bans anti-TMC dailies

Bengal bans anti-TMC dailies

Mamatas decision to block English newspapers in govt libraries draws flak

 In an unprecedented move,  the Mamata Banerjee government on Wednesday decided to ban all dailies except vernacular newspapers considered to be pro Trinamool in the State government funded libraries in the state.

A circular issued by Library Services and Mass Education Special Secretary Ramapada Biswas says no government fund will be spent on purchase of newspapers/dailies published or purported to be published by any political party as a measure to develop free thinking among the masses.

The circular has specified eight newspapers that henceforth will only be available which includes five Bengali, one Hindi and two Urdu dailies.

The newspapers that fit the Mamata government’s criterion include Sambad Pratidin of which two editors are in Rajya Sabha,  Sakalbela, Dainik Statesman, Ekdin, Khabar 365 Din — all Bengali vernaculars considered to be close to Mamata—, Hindi newspaper Sanmarg whose Managing Director Vibek Gupta is in Rajya Sabha and two Urdu newspapers Akhbar-e-Mashriq whose senior journalist Nadimul Haque has also managed a berth in the Rajya Sabha and Azad Hind.

Circulation wise considered to be prime newspapers of the state like Ananda Bazar Patrika, Bartaman, Aajkal in vernacular and The Times of India, The Telegraph, The Hindustan Times and The Indian Express have failed to match the criterion of Trinamool supremo.

When asked about such a weird range of choices, Library Services Minister Abdul Karim Chowdhury defending the decision said, “The government has a policy. We are implementing it. The order has been passed following all rules and regulations.”

The only banned newspaper that is published by a political party is Ganashakti, which is a CPM mouthpiece.

Rule of law

Coming down heavily on the government decision, educationist Sunando Sanyal, once close to Banerjee and who headed the West Bengal Syllabus Committee for a few months after she came to power last year, said, “The order is totally against democracy and the rule of law and at the same time it is laughable to say the least. Now the government will decide what one should read and what not. I don’t know what next they will come up with.”

Criticising the decision, State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said, “The government cannot decide what the people will read and what not. It is an intrusion into the freedom of reading.
We will protest this move.”

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the order is “worse than censorship” and has shades of “fascism”.
Eminent writer Sunil Gangopadhyay observed that the government should not meddle in all matters and the move amounted to “gross interference in privacy of readers.”