The Kerala Union of Working Journalists and the Delhi Union of Journalists held a joint protest outside Tripura Bhavan in Delhi today to register their opposition to the arbitrary closure of the daily Desher Katha. Office bearers of the two organisations submitted a memorandum to the state government demanding that the cancellation of the newspaper’s registration be revoked.
The memorandum said, “This protest meeting of the DUJ and KUWJ strongly condemns the decision of the Tripura Government and the Registrar of Newspapers for India to cancel the registration of Daily Desher Katha, a 40-year-old prominent and progressive newspaper. Such actions were unheard of even in the time of Emergency and remind one of the British regime, where newspapers were banned at the whims and fancies of the colonial rulers.
“Daily Desher Katha is the second largest circulated daily in Tripura and is known for adversarial stories exposing the present government. It had also extensively covered the massive violence spearheaded by Sangh Parivar activists against Opposition parties in the State soon after the Assembly elections.
“The registration was cancelled on flimsy grounds that there were some anomalies in a declaration of ownership. The real reason, however, is that the BJP government wants to suppress dissenting voices. It does not want Opposition voices to be heard or read among the public. Such a step is a blatant attack on the freedom of the Press. The KUWJ and the DUJ are also concerned about the safety and job security of Desher Katha staff and a closure would mean loss of jobs.
“This protest meeting demands that the RNI should immediately restore the registration of Desher Katha. The State Government should not interfere with the freedom of the press.
“We call upon all democratic forces to condemn the increasing attacks against journalism and journalists in the country.”
DUJ General Secretary Sujata Madhok, KUWJ Vice President Sofia Bind, Desher Katha’s former Editor Gautam Das, Lok Lahar Editor Rajendra Sharma and the President of the Indian Women’s Press Corps T.K. Rajalakshmi addressed the meeting. DUJ Secretary Aroop Sen presided over the programme. KUWJ Delhi unit Treasurer Prasoon Kandath welcomed the gathering. DUJ Secretary Jigeesh AM presented a resolution protesting the Government’s decision.