Nobody can put an allegation against Mamata Banerjee that she wants to muzzle the Press. But it is a fact that she wants a ‘friendly Press’. Now one can put forward a question in this context that ‘what is the difference between muzzling a press and a friendly press?’ Instead of giving a direct answer to this let me put forward an example: Last year, when Mamata assumed power, almost all newspapers including Ananda Bazar Patrika, Bartaman and Aajkaal suppoted her as she grabs power from CPM. But later, as Information and Cultural Affairs Minister, apart from her responsibility as Chief Minister, Mamata had stopped government advertisements to a number of newspapers and magazines including Ananda Bazar Patrika, Bartaman, and Aajkaal . It was reported by some sources that at this stage ABP was to get to the tune of Rs. 30 crores (exact amount not known) on advertisement account, Bartaman was to get Rs. 10 crores and Aajkaal’s pending bill was also nearer to this amount.
After this kind of step taken by Mamata, all affected newspapers have become very much worried. In this it was further reported that Mamata Banerjee had gone to meet the editor Ashok Dasgupta and had a close-door meeting for nearly an hour. After this meeting two things happened: one, the editorial policy of Aajkaal towards the present government had become ‘positive’ and two, government had started clearing the pending advertisement bills of Aajkaal. Other two newspapers might had followed the same procedure or adopted some other method. But the fact remains that they are also following a ‘positive policy’ towards the ruling party. We newspapermen are in the know of one very important journalistic jargon—‘constructive criticism’—by which they do criticize the government but not with a purpose of destabilising it. So both sides are happy with the arrangement.
Even after accepting this fact as a reality, there is no denying of the fact that the CPM-inspired persons sitting in crucial positions of administration, police, education, different local self bodies, different political parties, institutions and so called left oriented intellectuals have been activated by the CPM party bosses to create trouble in their respective areas. There are numerous examples. Let cite only one incident which is a pointer to understand their modus operandi. On 14th August, 2012, all newspapers of Kolkata have carried banner news where it was said that a woman was dragged into a car from a crowded road of Kolkata and taken her to an unknown place where 10 people gang raped her for the whole night and in the morning she was thrown on the road. That lady instead of going to her in laws went to the Charu Market Police Station to report the incident. The unusual behaviour of that woman attracted the constables of IB department. They started investigation and found out that the whole story of ‘gang rape’ was cooked up. In the face of police interrogation she admitted that nothing was happened to her. Now what legal or penal action would be taken against her would be decided by the police.
It is worth mentioning here another incident which took place after Dinesh Trivedi resigned as the Railway Minister from the central cabinet on 18th March, 2012. Prof. Ambikesh Mohapatra of Jadavpur University and his octogenarian neighbour Sub ata Sengupta, a retired engineer, forwarded a cartoon picture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was discussing with Mukul Roy (present Railway Minister) on what kind of punishment should be given to Dinesh. In those photographs they have quoted the dialogue of Sonar Kella directed by the great filmmaker Satyajit Ray sarcastically and this had infuriated a section of Trinamool cadres. Among them one Amit Sardar, who introduced himself as a member of Chakberia Chhitnayabad Zonal Committee of TMC, had lodged a complaint against Mohapatra and Sengupta. Before bringing Mohapatra and Sengupta to police station they had beaten them. In that condition they were brought to the police station and police officers Sanjoy Biswas and Milan Das had arrested them without any “arrest warrant”. It was revealed afterwards that there was no FIR against them. Next day when they were produced before the Magistrate the bail was granted.
At this stage the state Human Rights Commission had instituted a suo moto case. Commission in its final judgment said that the state government should pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh (Rs. 50 thousand each to Mohapatra & Sengupta) within six weeks.
A cartoon can be humorous, critical and even positively savage. Citizens who are expressing or airing a critical opinion about the ruling party cannot be picked up from their residence by the police at the instance of an agitated mob. If this is allowed to continue, then not only the human rights of the dissenters will perish, free speech which is the life blood of our democracy will be gagged.
In this connection readers should keep in mind that immediately after Mamata assumed power, people from the CPM had started pouring in the ruling party primarily with an intention to save their skin from the anger of the present ruling party and ultimately with a motive to sabotage the administrative machinery from within. And for this reason it has become a common knowledge that the ruling party has two types of cadres — ‘red TMC’ and ‘green TMC’. CPM is past master in this game of sabotaging. In this arena of saboteurs, CPM had included all sections of people including judges and so called intellectuals.
Speaking at a seminar organised to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Bengal legislative assembly Mamata (on 14th August, 2012) said, why should judgment be delivered in exchange for money? Corruption has made inroads into the judiciary and democracy as a whole. This is unfortunate.
This is an open hint given by the Chief Minister as she cannot spell out the names and parties of those who are involved in the process of destabilising present government at this stage.