Bengal: Editorials to Organisations – Reactions Pour in Against Newsclick Raid

Several editorials termed it as a ‘dark era’ for press freedom in the country.

Kolkata:  From the largest circulated Bengali daily, Anandabazaar Patrika to Ganashakti daily  to the Marxbadi Path, CPI(M)’s mouthpiece, several newspapers in West Bengal  expressed  their shock at the turn of the events in New Delhi , where the  office of news portal Newsclick was raided along with the homes of its journalists, contributors and general staff, and their laptops and mobile devices were seized by the Delhi Police.

In its editorial on Friday, Anandabazaar Patrika said that even by the present standards of media freedom set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government it is a serious attack on media freedom. Invoking the draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) has meant that this attack on Newsclick can rain upon the entire media fraternity of the country, it said.

Ganashakti, in its editorial, said the attack on Newsclick  is not a standalone attack but an assault on media freedom in the country.

In its editorial, Marxbadi Path, has said that Newsclick editor Prabir Purkayastha, who has been thrown in jail under the present government, was jailed during the Emergency period also.  These times denote the time of undeclared Emergency and the return of McCarthy age in India, it said.

Talking to Newsclick, the associate editor of Marxbadi Path, said that “in the last nine years, India has receded 21 ranks in the World Press Freedom Index. Silence now will be a crime. For gennext, we have to lead struggles against it” he said.

A host of organisations, such as the Centre of Trade  Union, the Indian Peoples theatre  Association, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Electricity Employees Federation of India , All India Lawyers Union, Students Federation of India, Democratic Youth Federation and minority organization, Awaaz, also condemned the Delhi Police’s usage of the draconian UAPA on journalists and the arrest of its editor .

Protests were aired on the social media, too, with many people decrying the chain of events, saying it was a “dark era in the history of press freedom of the country”.

Anirban Mukherjee, vice president of the National Platform  for Rights of the Disabled in his Facebook post criticised the incident and the arrests. He also expressed anguish at the way Newsclick’s human resources head Amit Chakraborty, a physically disabled person, was being treated by the state. Mukherjee and many others quoted German Pastor Neimoller’s poem on human rights.

“First they came for the communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a communist

Then they came for the socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me.