Of late Islamic money and men have become extraordinarily active in the field of media in eastern and north-eastern India. Within a very short spell of time, the Islamic Journalists Society has started at least twelve newspapers including one daily newspaper in Bengali named Aajvikas and three 24-hour satellite news channels (They are Network 365 from Kolkata, Din 365 from Jharkhand and Dy 365 from Assam). Apart from Aajvikas they have started Dakshiner Varanda a magazine devoted on agriculture and environment, Anahata a newsweekly, Fashion on fashion and style, Career and Pesha Sopan both devoted on career and job information Indoor Outdoor this news magazine has four editions and it is published in Hindi, Oriya and Assamese, two educational magazines in Bengali Mission Secondary and Mission Higher Secondary, Amrit Cricket on cricket and other sports, The International Gazette, a magazine devoted to international issues. Those who are in the field of newspaper publication they can well imagine how much capital is required for bringing out so many publications regularly.
Shri Suman Bhattacharya, a former journalist of Ananda Bazar Patrika, the largest circulated Bengali daily with a circulation of 1.3 million, is spearheading the journalist section of the group. Shri Bhattacharya became popular after covering the Kargil war in Ananda Bazar Patrika. His father was very close to Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, former Information and Broadcasting Minister as he was an employee in Dakshinee Varta a yearly magazine edited by Priya Ranjan. People are inclined to draw a conclusion that may be Priya Ranjan had an invisible hand in the appointment of Suman Bhattacharya in his present position. The daily newspaper Aajvikas edited by Suman Bhattacharya has already campaigned for allowing work-permit for the Bangladeshis. In another news campaign Aajvikas has argued that Md. Salim, an MP of CPI(M) would have been a better chief minister of the State than the present CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. These kind of indirect but definitive and motivated stories are being published in the interest of parochial Islamic interest.
Let us cite another example from its publication Anahata, a newsweekly. In its issue of 3?9 December, 2008, it had put forward six questions and obtained answers from the intellectuals and college and university students. If one goes through the questions they have asked, one would immediately understand the motive behind asking those questions. Let us put forward the questions they have asked: (1) There are few people who are honest and responsible think that Muslims in general are ?anti-nationals? and ?opposed to the national interests?. Do you think that this kind of generalisation is supportable? (2) Do you think that the terrorists are Muslims only and no other communities have no terrorists? Is it a fact that terrorists form a separate party? (3) What is your perception about terrorists? Or what do you understand by ?terrorists?? (4) If you find that there are terrorists in other communities as well, then will it proper to say that only Muslims are terrorists in this country? If it is correct, then should we get rid of such wrong notion? (5) What kind of India you prefer to see?a free, secular India where love, tolerance and equal prestige for all will be followed as national ideal? Or you want an India which is being ruled by a particular group of people belonging to a particular religion and where only that particular religious group will enjoy policy deciding right? (6) What kind of social discrimination gives birth to terrorism or such an ambience drives people to take up ?terrorism? as a way of solution?
Many renowned personalities of Bengal including Sunil Gangopadhyay, litterateur and President, Sahitya Academy, PC Sorcar Jr. famous magician, Kaushik Sen, actor, Bibhas Chakravorty, Drama director, Bani Basu, litterateur etc. have responded to these questions more or less positively which have successfully served their purpose.
Although all these newspapers have been started by the Islamic Journalist Society, now they have changed the name of this organisation. Instead of the word ?Islamic? they are now using the word ?Independent?. By giving this new name i.e. Independent Journalist Society they think that people would accept this organisation as a secular organisation and would not have any prejudice against it. Or may be they would have found certain problems while registering the society in the former name. In any case, the presence of this new Independent Journalist Society is being felt by each and every section of the society as the publications are covering regional and sectional subjects. Another important aspect of their motive is that they have not limited themselves in the political matters only; instead, they have spread their fangs in divergent areas. Through this media chain they are consciously trying to rope in important personalities in their fold. The latest example, in this regard, is that when Din 365, the 24-hour satellite channel, was inaugurated in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, on December 18, 2008, the chief minister Shri Shibu Soren was present at the function.
Wherefrom this huge capital is coming for running such a huge number of magazines is not exactly known. But it has been said that some ?Hawala Businessmen? are involved in this matter. The name of Arun Poddar, a Kolkata-based businessman, has come up as supplier of money to the Independent Journalist Society. In exchange of this job Poddar has an eye on a Rajya Sabha seat from CPI(M) quota with the help of Md. Salim. It is said that Md. Salim had assured him to get one seat of Rajya Sabha to him. It is also said that huge Arab-money is coming through different sources. Although exact proof for this is not immediately available but circumstantial evidence is very much there. Even if the sources are not disclosed the affluence can be noticed in their life style.
(Author is a former member of Press Council of India)