Mamata's media gag falls flat; takes U-turn on decision

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Mamata Banerjee
Kolkata, Mar 29: West Bengal Mamata Banerjee grabbed media headlines this time around when she declared that the state banned all English and mass-circulation Bengali dailies at state-sponsored and aided libraries. The announcement was made on Wednesday. After realizing the impact of her decision, she quickly took a U-turn on the same and said that the order was being altered only to include more newspapers. [Read: 'Ban' Newspapers: Is Mamata a fascist?]

Her decision to 'ban' English newspapers in libraries was met with sharp criticism from all quarters, including Trinamool ally Congress, Left parties and the community as a whole. They called the decision "undemocratic, undesirable and worse than censorship." [Read: NO democracy in West Bengal, Mamata bans English Newspapers]

According to government sources, an order by the Department of Mass Education Extension and Library Services is being amended to include an English daily, Olchiki, Nepali and a Bengali daily to the original list of eight newspapers.

Sources have been quoted as saying to PTI, "Among the newspapers being added are leading English daily Times of India, Bengali daily 'Aajkal' besides an Olchiki and a Nepali newspaper. A concerted move is on to tarnish the image of the state government by leveling the charge that the freedom of the press is being gagged. This is a lie."

The source added, "Rumour is being spread with a malafide intention by some motivated people. The Library Department is a small department; it has little funds and cannot keep so many newspapers."

Displaying the party's defiant image, they had earlier defended its decision on Wednesday and said that it was made in accordance with its policy and ruled out withdrawing the circular. As per the earlier order, the purchase of newspapers/dailies by public libraries was restricted to Sangbad Pratidin, Sakalbela, Khabar 365 din, Ekdin, Dainik Statesman (all Bengali), Sanmarg (Hindi) and Akhbar-E-Mashriq and Azad Hind (both Urdu dailies).

Three journalists of Sangbad Pratidin, Sanmarg and Akhbar-E-Mashriq were recently elected to Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress tickets.

The circular had also stated that no government fund will be allotted towards the purchase of any newspaper or daily published or purported to be published by any political party in any public library in the state.

OneIndia News

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