Former Tripura CM Biplab Deb

Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb has faced serious criticism after he attacked Shiv Sena-led government of Maharashtra for arresting Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami in Mumbai on November 4.

Deb tweeted: “Blatant misuse of state power against Arnab Goswami is a direct attack on free speech and democracy. It gives us reminiscence of the Emergency by Congress and its allies. This must be condemned in loudest voice.”

Journalists’ organisations in Agartala on November 5 reacted sharply to the chief minister and stated that Deb had openly warned media on September 11 in a public function, after which as many as nine working journalists were attacked in the state but neither the chief minister nor his government condemned such incident and made any arrest.

Deb had accused a section of media of being over enthusiastic in covering mismanagement of COVID-19 in Tripura and threatened: “History shall not forgive them, and people of Tripura will not forgive them. I will not forgive them. History stands witness to the fact that I Biplab Deb, do what I say.”

Assembly of Journalists (AoJ), the apex body of media workers of the state, has been agitating, demanding withdrawal of the “derogatory statements” of chief minister but Deb did not respond. As a result, the media in Tripura has still been continuing the agitation against Biplab Kumar Deb.

Deb’s statement condemning Arnab’s arrest infuriated the journalists of Tripura. AoJ chairman and veteran journalist Subal Kumar Dey said: “We condemned Arnab’s arrest loudly and demanded his immediate release and also, to give justice to his family. But Biplab Deb’s tweet on Arnab is nothing but crocodile tears to show before central BJP leaders, which is a complete drama. Deb has no minimum respect to media and democracy and he has no right to criticize Maharashtra govt.”

“Since, the incident was with Arnab Goswami and that too a place like Mumbai, the entire country is jolted today seeing the oppression of elected governments. But in Tripura during Biplab’s rule, the status of media is worse than any other part of the country. Unfortunately, we are not getting that much of a response from the central government and fellow colleagues in metros. The face of all governments is one and equal – let us unite to fight for media freedom,” Deb added.

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