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Govt believes in freedom of media: BJP

The state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today expressed its reactions on the issue related to police raid in a local daily office.

The BJP state unit stated that a section of media ‘wrongly’ termed the issue as an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy.

In support of his claim, a BJP spokesman asserted that the BJP-IPFT government believes in the freedom of media and with this view, the new government already took various initiatives for the welfare of media sector.

BJP state spokesperson Subrata Chakraborty said the police raid at office of the local daily in the city was a part of preliminary investigation in connection with publication of the advertisement to find out if there was any link between fraudsters and an advertisement published by the newspaper.

Addressing media through social media live, the BJP state spokesperson said an FIR was filed at Airport police station by the Airport authority in reference to an advertisement published by the newspaper on Apr 16 last.

The advertisement was related to job recruitment. But the Airport authority, as per the FIR, denied any such recruitment process. However, the case was then referred to West Agartala police station since the newspaper office falls under the jurisdiction of West PS.

Based on the complaint, as part of preliminary investigation, a team of police went to the newspaper office to verify if there was any link of fraudsters with the advertisement, said Chakraborty adding that it is the responsibility of the police administration to ensure that no one becomes victim of fraud.

Elaborating the steps taken by the BJP-IPFT government for welfare of the media, Chakraborty said that the pension of journalists was increased from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 10,000 with effect from July 01, 2018 and four veteran scribes were receiving the benefits. The monetary help of Rs. 2 lakh had been provided from Journalists’ Welfare Fund to Biswajit Sharma for his treatment.
For awasan of the journalists, the state government arranged one acre land at Barjala Mouja under Sadar sub-division, he said.

The BJP spokesman said the Finance department already sanctioned Rs. 14.94 lakh for renovation of Agartala Press Club and Rs. 15,33,876 for installing AC. More Rs. 2.68 lakh was sanctioned for the renovation purpose and the works being implemented by PWD are nearing completion.
The Information and Cultural Affairs department had also arranged a three-day workshop on September 15-17, last year for strengthening the skills of working journalists. Besides, four media related committees- Press Accreditation Committee, Circulation Committee, Website Committee and Journalists’ Welfare Committee under the ICA department have been reconstituted, Chakraborty said.

He also said that the Tripura Advt. Guidelines-2009 was amended time to time. Besides, the state government already initiated a process for further amendment which has already been approved by the Law department. Now, the process is pending with Finance department for approval.

According to Chakraborty, as per the Tripura Advertisement Guidelines-2009, the rate of advertisement for newspaper was increased category wise with effect from 21-08-2018: for A category, (from Rs. 75 to Rs. 110 per column cm), for B category (from Rs. 65 to Rs. 90 per column cm) and for C category (from Rs. 50 to Rs. 65 per column cm).
On the other hand, the state government is on a move to amend the existing Tripura Press Representatives Accreditation Rules- 2001 and a proposal in this regard would soon be sent to the Cabinet. The journalists of Web and Electronics media would be given Press Accreditation Card after the amendment comes into effect, he added.

The BJP spokesman further stated that as many as 92 accredited journalists had been given new identity cards in 2019-20. Eight journalists didn’t take the cards yet and 10 journalists didn’t apply for renewal of the accreditation cards while one journalist had retired.
The new government had also increased the allocations meant for newspaper advertisement as compared to previous years. The budget for the same had been estimated to be Rs. 3.5 crore in 2018-19, Rs. 8 crore in 2019-20 and Rs. 10 crore in 2020-21.

Before concluding his address, the BJP spokesperson said the party always welcomes ‘constructive criticism’ because media role is important for the welfare of state and its people. If state government takes any step to prevent any fraud then it should not be termed as attack on the fourth pillar of democracy, Chakraborty added.

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