Agartala: A 40-year-old CPI-M newspaper in Tripura, “Daily Deshar Katha”, has been ordered closed by the government on technical grounds, leading the Marxists to accuse the state’s BJP government of committing an “illegal” act.
The West Tripura District Magistrate passed an order closing down the Bengali daily, alleging discrepancies in the changeover of the management.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and the newspaper’s founder editor Gautam Das on Tuesday said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “pressurised the District Magistrate to do the illegal work as the newspaper was critical to the state government’s misgovernance and ruling party’s undemocratic ways”.
The BJP denied the allegations.
The District Magistrate and Collector, Sandeep Mahatme, after conducting four hearings between September 12 and October 1, passed an order on Monday night to suspend publication of the newspaper which began publication in 1978.
Das said that since the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) government came to power in March, massive attacks had been unleashed on Left leaders and cadres.
The circulation of “Daily Deshar Katha” fell to 45,000 per day, leaving 1,000 vendors and hawkers jobless.
“The BJP government tried to stop issue of government advertisements to the newspaper but they could not do so due to an order of the Gauhati High Court,” Das said.
The newspaper was originally owned by CPI-M. In 2012, the ownership was handed over to a registered society. Last month it was transferred to a newly formed trust.
“All the procedures have been done and everything was conveyed to the Registrar of Newspapers through the District Magistrate,” he added.
Terming the Monday action as a “black day” for the Indian media, Das said that even during the Emergency in 1975-77 no newspaper was forcibly closed down.
“At the behest of BJP, the DM has done the most undemocratic and illegal act. The DM even violated the judicial procedure,” the Left leader said.
He said the management of the newspaper would soon seek justice from the appropriate forum. He said over 200 journalists and non-journalists would now become jobless.
BJP spokesman Mrinal Kanti Deb said the BJP had no hand in the District Magistrate’s action.
“The CPI-M had hidden facts about the management. They have cheated the people. The DM has only curbed the illegality of the management of the newspaper,” Deb told the media.
In New Delhi, the CPI-M said: “This is a brazen attack on the freedom of the press. It is a sad day that (the daily) has stopped publication on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti.”