Journalists’ organization in Tripura – Assembly of Journalists (AoJ) – has written to the prime minister, Union home minister and Press Council of India against Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb for “warning media” and “interfering in the free functioning of the press”.
The letter described the alleged coercive and anti-media policies of the state government against those who have been criticizing the chief minister.
On September 11, Deb had allegedly warned the journalists in a public gathering against writing stories criticising his government.
“History shall not forgive them. The 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,” he had said, which was perceived as a clear threat by the journalists’ body of the state.
After the chief minister’s warning as many as six working journalists were assaulted and another eight media personnel were threatened by miscreants in different parts of the state for writing against Biplab Kumar Deb, the letter stated.
Besides, reducing the government advertisements to the media houses, the administration is allegedly registering false cases against the journalists and editors and also, serving notices, demanding disclosure of news sources, AoJ alleged in the letter.
The organisation alleged police inaction on crimes against journalists despite complaints lodged in various police stations across the state.
As many as 23 journalists in the past 30 months of Biplab Kumar Deb’s rule were assaulted and every incident was registered with police but not a single arrest has been made do far and the state government has not even once condemned such attacks on the media, the letter said.
The newspapers and journalists who wrote on COVID-19 mismanagement in the state and the related corruption have been targeted and their family members working in government sectors are facing atrocities, it stated.
“Apart from the ill-treatment by the government, official news sources have been blocked by a circular. As a result, it is now extremely difficult to perform journalism. We appeal to the PM and the Press Council to take cognizance of the sensitive issues and intervene in the matter to save media persons in Tripura from the vindictive wrath,” said AoJ chairman Subal Kumar Dey.